Minooka's prowess was on full display at the Prospect Wanner Knights Invitational
Prospect HS; Mt. Prospect IL
The Wanner Knights Invitational has been a staple in boys' track and field in this state for over five decades. Teams who are fortunate enough to be invited have circled the last Friday evening in April as a coming-out party of sorts. Unfortunately, that tradition was halted last year due to the season being canceled via the Coronavirus.
Things appear to be trending in a positive vibe lately and although a significant amount of the traditional field was absent, it was still a good meet.
The #1 ranked team in the Milesplit IL 3A Power Rankings, Minooka was ready to strut their stuff in this 53rd edition. The Indians showed incredible balance en route to locking up their 155 point total. Among the medal haul were two relay titles (4x8, 4x2), Elijah Martin (100m- 11.68), Cael Hiser (200m- 23.39), and Vincent Van Eck (800m- 1:59.60).
The featured event here has always been the 4x800. In 2000, York set the national record with a still all-time state best 7:34.1. Coaches usually unveil their "A" squads for the first time of the season and if everything goes according to plan, it is usually a sign of what is to come in the state series. Minooka is a team that many pundits had ticketed as the best quartet last year prior to the shutdown. The Indians ran a state-best 7:51.68 indoors.
Adam Shaw and Van Eck were the key holdovers from that '20 squad. Shaw got the leadoff assignment and opened with a strong 1:58.4 leg. With the field strung out and the Indians in the clear, it was an easy street display of running for third and anchor legs Van Eck and Zachary Balzer. They rolled home to the first sub-8:00 performance of the season in 7:59.38. Sandburg hung on for second in an IL#2 8:04.18. Six of the top 10 marks in the state came from this meet.
Juan Manaog of Lane Tech is one of the most improved sprinters in the state. He looked to continue his winning ways in the 400m. Manaog and teammate Jaylin Jones bolted out and broke stagger on the field. Manaog held on for the victory in 51.07 in cool temperatures.
The 1600m started rather conservatively despite star power runners Spencer Werner (Loyola) and Nick Falk (New Trier) in the field. Werner led from the gun and allowed the pace to dog to his liking in 2:11. Falk tagged along with Ismail Tineh (Sandburg) joining in on the third circuit. Falk broke away in the final lap and won in a season-best 4:21.11.
You may have heard of the name Molly Fitzpatrick of Barrington. Well, the outstanding distance runner has a brother, Jack Fitzpatrick. Jack is a solid runner but coming from an outstanding program and notable sister, it's sometimes hard to get noticed. Jack took advantage of the 4:42 first half pace of the 3200m, he stayed in the pack and waited his turn. With less than a lap remaining, Fitzpatrick went for his and sealed the deal in a big personal best 9:22.86. His teammate Joey Furlong was second in 9:24.40.
Gabe Czako (Lockport) swept the hurdle races. The first one was the 110H in easy fashion 14.98. The 300H victory did not come easy as Czako tried to give away the victory. He hit the last four hurdles including two very hard which knocked him to the ground. Czako was fortunate to have finished the race en route to the rough 42.87 win.
We may have a new star in the making for the triple jump. Lake Park has had its share of great leapfroggers in the past. Junior Desmond Horton had a breakout meet and won by over four feet (IL#4 45-7.75).