Lake Park's Zach Frye is a bit more than ecstatic after setting a personal indoor best in the pole vault
The Proviso West High School field house has been the epicenter of great track and field action here in the Chicagoland area since a massive facility renovation prior to the 2019 indoor season. Among the fixtures was brighter lighting, fresh interior painting, and of course the track resurfacing courtesy of Mondo. The athletes have responded with eye-popping performances and the fans as energetic as one could imagine.
The opening act was timely and decisive-
Some of the negative comments from far and wide in regard to this standout annual invitational has been meet management. Proviso West Head Coach Johnny Nolan-Jenkins has admitted that he has always been available for constructive criticism. He even states the proclamation at the 8:30a coaches meeting, "if there is something I can do to make this meet better, please let me know." It was a pleasant feeling to know that when events kicked off at 9am followed by two medical emergencies, the final event was in the books by 2:15pm.
There were tons of action all over the field-
Things began with the shot put and one of the early leaders Pete Skoronski (Sr., Maine South) who was coming back from a then IL#1 Friday night effort 57'3" to win on the odd surfaced at "PW" with a solid 56'3." It was more than enough to keep a massive crowd glued to the competition as two other throwers eclipsed 50-feet. One of those guys was future Western Illinois University footballer Shawn Lee (Sr., Downers Grove South) who threw 51'8" in his first meet of the year following ankle surgery.
Jordan Vela (Sr., Andrew) is his name and although he took 8th in the state for the 3A high jump, not many fans outside of Tinley Park heard of him. On Saturday, Vela had a career day that he soon will not forget. After polishing off second place in the triple jump (43'4") behind teammate Dillon Peters' (Sr.) 44'2.75", Vela cleared 6'0" and moved on solo where he eventually won with a personal best 6'5.25." He is going to be a guy to watch all season long.
Defending 3A Pole Vault champion Zach Frye (Sr., Lake Park) was not at all happy about his performance at the Greg Foster Invite just a weekend before. Although he won with a clearance of 13'11.25", that was more of a low-tation than an expectation. Frye bowed to fix a few technical issues and return with a vengeance. He
Taking down the 4x800 record was a long time coming-
Records come and records go but this impenetrable distance record stood since 2006 held by York. The current group of Dukes came in with the fastest time in the state at 8:06.4. It was a strong lead-off leg in 1:57.6 that set things up for the statement win in 7:59.62. The record is gone and the Dukesters are not only increased their state dominance but now are among the top 15 in the country.
The open 800m proved to be a tactical but strong affair with the pace going out around 58.5 for the first half. Kembre Daniel (Sr., Chicago Lincoln Park) came in with no fanfare, but on the final circuit, he opened up with a tremendous gap on the field and won easily in an IL#2 1:57.43. No longer is Daniel a mystery man, but rather someone you can no longer sleep on.
The 1600m was another good one with the Jones College Prep senior duo Anthony Maida and Ian Bacon running off some rust. Maida looked like a rabbit for a while until it was too late to reel him in. Maida hit the first half in 2:12 and 1200 (3:20), he was able to hold a three second lead on the field until the final circuit. Colin Hill (Jr., York) shot home hard to pass Bacon but finished shy of Maida's 4:27.31. It was a good 4:27.71 and 4:27.98 for second and third respectively.
Speed is the name of the game-
There were a ton of choices for the fans palate. The first item on the agenda was the short dashes. The fast section 55m featured four of the state's top speedsters. And as it turned out, Isaiah Tyler (Sr., Proviso East) got himself embroiled in another close affair. Tyler, Kaleb Brown (So., St. Rita), Jermarrion Stewart (Sr., Collinsville), and Christopher Radcliff (Jr., York) were the prime suspects. The gun went off and it was like a wave ready to crash the surfers under its tow. When the damage was done, Tyler came away with the win in 6.59. He held off the youngster Brown who clocked 6.60. The state's top returning speedster Stewart was a distant eighth in 6.68.
After helping his team win its section of the 4x200 (second to Thornwood in the standings), Radcliff polished off the 200m field with a resounding win in 22.61. One wonders how he would have done had Stewart competed. But it didn't matter because no one else broke 23-seconds.
The final race of the day was a tremendous one. The 4x400 relay featured six teams with seed times under 3:35. Lane Tech, Proviso West, Wheaton North, Rockford Christian, Lyons Township, and Thornwood had to better the penultimate mark by York which was 3:30.41. Things began to unfold right way with the opening legs in the 52-second range. But shortly thereafter it was Lane Tech putting the pressure on the field and forcing some legs to do things they did not want to do- get out of their comfort zone. As things continued to unfold, the Indians captivated the crowd and held off the hosts for the second and third fastest times in the state 3:28.86-3:30.18.