The 800 Meter Jamboree Was A Match Of Challenge And Fun

The boy's championship race will go down as one of the most exciting races on Illinois soil this year



Hope Track & Field Academy; Chicago-

As the rain subsided shortly before the arrival of the first event, it was evident by the energy in the crowd that Monday evening was going to be a great evening. There were 11 sections of "half-mile" races, some mixed genders to accommodate the competition as even and fun as possible. Of course, when it got to the serious business, the final three offerings were unmatched.

Race 1-

Grace Voight led throughout the competition as she won in 2:43.94.

Race 2-

Mai-jeanna Sakho of Hinsdale Central came from behind and with less than 200 remaining, pull into the lead for the victory with a time of 2:32.08.

Race 3-

This affair had a flair of young and old. Anu Parekh, the father of Ava Parekh and Akili Parekh of Chicago Latin fame, got in the fun right away. Mr. Parekh led with a 1:07.88 opening split and dropped the first sub 2:20 effort in 2:18.63.

Race 4- 

This was the first race under 2:10 as three runners got under the mark led by Max Elder of Northridge Prep ran a personal best in 2:03.52. 

Race 5-

The opening pace was slower than section 4 (1:02.44) but things began to pick up at the 600m mark. Ian Morrison of Plainfield North roared up the home stretch and won in 2:02.64 PR. All nine finishers were under 2:10.

Race 6-

There were only five runners here but the competitiveness was tremendous and all of them finished under 2:05 with Zach Daniel of Barrington winning in 2:02.39.

Race 7-

We nearly got our first runner and winner under 2:00. The pace was pushed under 59-seconds and Julian Aske of Evanston Beacon Academy ran to victory in 2:00.05.  

Race 8-

The undercard completed the first half of the day as long-distance ace Tim Neumann of Downers Grove South swooped in to take the victory in 1:56.24. Neumann became the first runner under 2:00 and set up the main card racers something to ponder.

University of Michigan middle-distance star Aurora Rynda leads the charge of the Women's 800m race

Race 9 (Championship Boys)-

The moment that so many people came to watch and relish in was here. There would be a pacer to get the fellas out and in with a respectable opening lap. He burst past the 400 in approximately 53.5 with Nicolas Dovalovsky of Naperville Neuqua Valley and IL leader Dan Watcke of Hinsdale Central following under 54-seconds. Dovalovsky and Watcke were neck and neck with 200 to go. It appeared as though they hit the mark in 1:21 low.

Watcke had the slight edge coming into the home straight and finished with a whopping 1:50.34. Plainfield North's Ryan Maseman nipped Dovalovsky just before the finish line to take second in 1:51.14 (IL#2/US#15). Dovalovsky should not be disappointed in his effort as he hit 1:51.34 (IL#3/US#21). The top three finishers cement themselves among the top 50 all-time in state annals- Watcke leads the charge at #17. Additionally, it was a show of depth as all finishers broke 2:00.

Race 10 (Women's Championship)-

A mixture of collegiate and high school talent was here. No pacer meant that Big 10 champion and University of Michigan runner Aurora Rynda had to do all of the early work. Rynda led the way in 1:00.18 followed by Marianne Mihas (Chicago Latin) and Kaylie Politza (Valparaiso IN) who were both under 61-seconds. 

The pace continued to be led by Rynda who was intent on finishing strong while maintaining a three-second gap with less than 200. Rynda won in 2:04.74. What came afterward got the crowd pumped. Mihas streamed home in 2:07.44 PB (US#8) followed by the former Lemont IL standout Politza 2:08.77 (IN #2). All ten runners dipped under 2:17.

Race 11 (Men's Championship)-

A slew of professional men from various countries came into this one not only ready to put a cap on things but also better their marks in lieu of the Olympic Games. A pacesetter brought a tight group in 51.xx and Kameron Jones of USA was the head honcho. Meanwhile, veteran Erik Sowinski of USA was lurking and struck with less than 60m left of real estate. His team just above 1:45 in 1:46.41. Sowinski is a former University of Iowa All-American.