Prospect Wanner Invite Presented All With Smiles And Grace

Maine South put the finishing touches on a good evening of track and field

Mt. Prospect; Prospect HS-

It was a year ago that Mother Nature was downright nasty to the 50th Annual Wanner Knights Invitational. The Mercury had dropped to 38F but it felt much colder than that by the end of the night that had virtually all in attendance holding up a surrender flag.

Let's fast forward a year later. It was sunny, a bit breezy and much warmer. This is something that's more suitable for everyone and certainly for a well-respected track and field meet.

The first big event final of the day was the 4x800 relay. The coming into the meet was real as many onlookers on hand wanted to see the first sub-8:00 clocking on the season. Naperville Central was expected to load their team with ace senior Thomas Shilgalis. He would not compete. Instead, it was the host Prospect that got things started with a blistering opening leg from junior Erik Snell. He gapped the field with a 1:56.3 stinger. It took a moment for the other players to adjust and get things in motion. There was jostling back and forth until the favored Red Hawks took over on the third leg and ran away and hid. The final verdict was a 7:57.91 state best time. Lane Tech closed hard on their final two legs to take second over Prospect 8:00.35-8:04.39.

The 3200m was a treat with senior distance stars Josh Methner of Hersey and Sam Rivera of Whitney Young. They immediately separated from the pack on their way to possibly running 9:00 or better. The first mile was in 4:33 as Methner led the way. For the next three laps, it was Methner trying to shake Rivera and it appeared as though he would be able to get his way. But with 50m remaining, Rivera found one last surge and nipped Methner at the line to win 9:06.27-9:06.37.

Rivera returned several hours later in the 1600 and tried to smash the competition with an opening 60.5 first leg. Snell was able to close the lead down and take over on the penultimate lap and run away to victory in 4:20.23.

The field events received a very special guest-

Rolling Meadows outstanding senior thrower Joe Boyer. Apparently, he and his teammates invitational was canceled because of a security threat to the school. Prospect HS meet officials were kind enough to offer Boyer and several teammates an exhibition spot to compete in. Boyer met some new friends and tossed the shot put 59-5.5 in the preliminary round. Had he been officially placed in the meet, it would have been the winning performance. Later Boyer "won" the discus throw in 161-6. Downers Grove South throwers Shawn Lee and Kendall Burrow were officially awarded the gold medals respectively: 54-6.5 and 158-10.

Another surprise in the field was senior Damon Street of Maine West in the high jump. Coming into the competition, Street hadn't competed in many competitions. But at the same time, his confidence was sky high because he had beaten the favorite and all-stater senior Michael Shafis of Prospect two weekends prior. Street was especially excited that he wasn't mentioned in the meet preview. "My coach said there was nothing mentioned about me [in the Milesplit IL] preview," he said. The outcome was another winner and personal best 6-6 putting Street #4 in the state.

The speedy events grabbed a few headlines-

Sometimes the sprints and relays get overlooked in this fine invitational. After a few distance events, eyes were planted toward speed. Robert Williams of Springfield made his annual trek up north to compete in the hurdle races and a relay. The speedy senior easily won the 11HH in 14.83. Later in the meet, he was miles ahead of the field in the 300H and appeared to be on a new season best and possibly under 38-seconds for the first time. However, Williams met an untimely fate on the penultimate hurdle and crashed to the ground. He was able to upright himself but the damage was done. He would finish last in the championship section (43.78). Lyons Twp. senior Aidan McBride was able to stay poised in his lane and won with a time of 40.25.

Earlier Prospect junior John Moellenkamp anchored his team in the 4x100 with a blistering 42.39 and then the 4x200 in 1:28.71. If that wasn't enough he rocked away from the field in the 200m, slingshot himself through the finish line with a personal best 22.29. If the state does not know him now, they never will... lastly, was the smooth and gliding effort by Maine East in the 4x400. Junior Tuwayne Gunn had won the 400m earlier in 49.87, powered home his team with an IL #4 3:23.17.