A day filled with emotional finishes and stunning upsets, Salt Fork wins this thrilling 4x200 relay (Duffy photo)
Eastern Illinois University; Charleston
Coming into day one of the boy's state championship, the pundits took a safe route in most instances in picking event winners. But even the most conservative observer got dinged.
From the outset, #1 Elgin (Harvest Christian Academy) had to battle their way through a treacherous minefield in order to earn their first state track and field state title. The Lions fell down early with lower returns than expected. Mathew Olech was supposed to win the 3200m but he took second to a feisty Justin Mumford of Trenton-Wesclin 9:18.26-9:19.92.
Later half-mile ace Hayden Colclasure was supposed to battle Andrew Brockmeier of Northridge Prep in the 800m, but Eli Mojonnier of Bismarck-Henning had other plans. After a tense waiting game where Colclasure pulled away for the supposed win in 1:57.76, it was his premature celebration that enabled Mojonnier to win the penultimate section with a time of 1:57.33.
The other favorites in the team race, St. Joe-Ogden, Salt Fork, and Niles Prep continued to trade away points. In between the madness was Chicago Hope Academy with the huge surprise victory in the 4x100 relay. The team from the near westside of Chicago proved that a seed time of 44.12 and being in section three of four meant nothing. The Eagles blazed a 43.19 which the final winner Salt Fork could not overcome in 43.39.
Some counted Garrett Taylor of Salt Fork out in the discus throw but he proved the field wrong in upsetting the favorite Hayden Knott of St. Joe-Ogden with a toss of 166-2.
Mixed into everything else was the two-person squad from Cowden-Herrick known as Daniel Lucas (1st- shot put), Jadon Robertson (1st- HJ, 1st- 110HH, 3rd- LJ) netted 37 points and the third-place trophy.
Down the stretch were Olech and the Lions entering the moment of truth. Down four or five points on the onset of the 1600m. Olech bid his time and patience through the first half of the race in seventh place around 2:15. Olech moved into second on the bell in 3:22 and just like lightning striking in a thunderstorm, he pushed into overdrive claimed the victory with a time of 4:21.59. It would be the point swing they needed and the third-place effort in the 4x400 (3:26.76).
The final total point verdict: Harvest Academy 51, Salt Fork 38, Cowden 37, Northridge Prep 37