Niko Schultz was one of the many stars that competed in the inaugural CYUP Misfits Invitational
It was last summer amid the doldrums of the global coronavirus pandemic that Jeff Bryant talked about hosting a track and field meet that could reunite the forces in a major way. "I think we should throw this big [track] meet and make it something different or unique, have like the 1000, 500, 300... we could do it a local park track," he said aloud.
Little did we all know that location would turn out to be the brand spanking new Indoor at Gately Track & Field Center. Things could have been a logistical nightmare if not for the crafty thinking Bryant who knew the only way a safe and sound track & field meet would work is if it were broken up into sections.
In this era of Covid, the bottom line in presenting a track and df
Key video highlights from the action at the Gately Track & Field Center
-Friday was essentially a festival of "mile" races from middle school through high school:
Future Chicago Latin runner Ben Gibson dominated his middle school peers from the gun and won in a US#1 4:36.29.
On the girls' side of the middle school game, it was fellow eighth-grader Grace Boleyn of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa who stole the show. Boleyn endured a tough challenge from a fabulous field that saw every finisher break 5:50.
There were seven sections to decipher through before reaching the winner. Section six struck hard with Lauren Pansegrau of Wisconsin winning in a personal best 4:58.06. That set up forced the hand of Emma Squires of Petoskey, Wisconsin. Squires pushed the pace from the gate which seemed to put her foes on their heels.
However, Josephine Welin of Oak Park-River Forest HS, who was making her season debut, tracked down Squires and dogged her after the 800m in 2:22.. At times, it appeared as though Squires was about to breakdown because her form is a bit unorthodox. The wait to fully attack Squires was over with just about 150m remaining. Welin fist-pumped her form into high gear and pulled away to a personal best win in 4:52.20. In all, there were 10 girls who broke 5:00. 70 of the 77 finishers cracked the 6:00 barrier.
The boys field came in with heavy fanfare as there were some top-notched competitors from various spots in the midwest.
It was a distance lover's affair with 12 sections salivate over. It took just two sections for the first runner to break 5:00 as Foster Shelbert of Naperville Central IL scatted home in 4:58.00. The next milestone was a sub-4:30 effort by Ian O'Laughlin of Metamora IL who ran 4:28.29 out of section 8. Section 10 set things up for the finale as middle-distance emerging star Ryan Maseman of Plainfield North IL set a lifetime best 4:21.88.
In the finale, Izaiah Steury of Angola IN was billed as the favorite and he lived up to the tag by taking the pace out well. It was a shoestring of runners passing the first mile in 1:01.
Saturday was greeted bright and early with the hurdles, short dashes- youth and high school, and early sections of the 3200m.
60H: Zach Winger of California is a stranger to indoor track and field but he found a way to win in 8.29 and dip inside of the top 50 nationally.
Niko Shultz's 600m: In what turned out to be one of the most electric races of the day and certainly one of the best middle-distance/long sprint races ever on Illinois soil. Matthew Griffin of New Hampshire and Niko Schultz of Plainfield South got out ahead of the field with a quick 400 in 51-seconds low. Tucked in behind them was sophomore Nathan Cumberbatch of Shorewood, Wisconsin. On the backstretch with 100 to go after being locked horns with Griffin, Schultz shifted into another gear and powered home to the incredible win: 1:19.86!!! It would be a US#1 and the first time an Illinois boy under 1:20. For a consolation prize, Griffin earned US#2 1:20.32. Cumberbatch took third with the top sophomore mark in the country 1:22.14.
Luke Wiley stings the 3200m field: Who knew that this event would end the meet like a fourth of July celebration. Lucas Guerra of Highland IN, Micah Wilson of St. Charles East, Drew Rogers of Herscher, Peter Walsdorf of Woodstock Marian, Nick Falk of New Trier, and several other standouts in the field. Wilson and Guerra traded blows for several circuits leading up to the first 1600 in 4:31. But later with just four guys, Wiley pushed the pace with Rogers lurking. Wiley would stream home with a massive PB 9:02.65- good for IL#1 and US#4. HE is also a marked man for the remainder of the season.
Roisin Willis: Of all of the hype stories coming in, this one was at the top of the charts. The Stevens Point, Wisconsin superstar has made her living off of shining in big moments. Now, for the first time, Willis had the national week and weekend spotlight all to herself. In a record attempt to break Sammy Watson's 1K all-time record of 2:40.72, Willis appeared a little nervous but ready. She immediately went on the attack as soon as the gun sounded- hitting the setup marks of 62, and 2:10 (1.5 seconds off). With the crowd on its feet and raucous, Willis pushed the power boost button with 100m to go... and just missed the record but produced the No. 2 effort ever in 2:41.53. The consolation prize was another round of applause to satisfy the appetite.
Katelyn Lehnen: Perhaps a star has been born after this past weekend. The highly touted 8th grader from Glenwood Middle School dominated her peers in the 60 and 300-meter dashes. The marks 7.95 and 41.00 would have put her in the high school medal contention. Lehnen competes with a fiesty vigor and appears ready now!
Riley Ammenhauser: The now-former Neuqua Valley IL volleyball standout came out of her winter stupor competing in two events. The nation's top returning triple kicked things off by placing in the 60m final. But many in the stands appeared more pleased by the improved speed than the placement. Ammenhauser clocked a personal best 7.90 in the prelims. Later, in the bread and butter event the triple jump, she connected on several 38, 39-foot efforts before unleashing a US#2 40-5.5 bomb. Not bad for a season debut who described her work as another day at the office.
Out-of-towners: First up was a pre-meet meet watch list Katharine Duren of nearby Boston, MA. The high nationally rated 60H came through with an easy 8.67 to remain in the US#8 position. She would later take fourth in the 300 with a time of 41.86.... former Lemont HS standout Kaylie Politza moved to Valparaiso IN prior to the start of the school year. In the process, she earned all-state cross country honors for the Vikings squad. On her trip back home, she competed in the 1600m (5:03.19) on Friday and on day two in the 600m in which she held off Ava Parekh of Chicago Latin 1:34.26-1:36.33. Both efforts earned top 10 national rankings.
Audrey Dadamio: One of the nation's top combined distance runners from Birmingham, Michigan, scratched the 1600m to concentrate on the 3200m. Dadamio's fresh legs got off to a roaring start and left the field in the dust. Her first major checkpoints of 2:20, 4:50 was telling (good enough to win Friday's championship 1600). The final resulted in a home state record 9:51.28.