Burlington Central’s girls are looking to defend a title while the Rockets boys are looking to defend their turf.
The Rockets girls Thursday night are among the favorites at Genoa-Kingston in the Big Northern Conference meet while the boys for the first time ever host the Kane County Invitational.
Every team wants to perform well on their own track, and Central’s boys expect to be in the running for individual titles at county. Kaneland and St. Charles North look to be the favorites for the team title at Central, however.
“They’re prohibitive favorites,” Central coach Mike Schmidt said. “They’re maybe the best teams we’ve seen this year.”
Central sophomore hurdler Lucas Ege might be involved in two of the better races. Ege has a best of 15.44 seconds in the 110-meter high hurdles and 40.11 in the lows, while the Knights’ Dylan Nauert has a best of 40.16 in the lows and 15.85 in the highs.
“They have a pretty good rivalry going,” Schmidt said. “Lucas has separated himself in the highs but in the 300 they’re close. Lucas has come from behind and caught him to beat him.”
Central senior 400 runner Ryan Olsen owns the school record now at 49.5 seconds even though he didn’t win the race when he ran it Saturday at Crystal Lake Central. He’ll also have steep competition from Kaneland’s Nathaniel Kucera (49.77) and St. Charles North’s Zach Kirby, who hasn’t gone under 50 in the open 400 yet.
“They (Olsen and Kucera) ran those times with the temperatures in the 40s and a stiff wind blowing so if they ever get a nice day to race you could really see some fast times,” Schmidt said.
Central’s sprint relay teams have been dropping time as they’ve become healthier.
Freshman Jason Berango, who had an 11.0-second 100 earlier in the year, had a hamstring injury to overcome.
“He’s healthier and has been working on the 4-by-100 and 4-by-200 and long jumping,” Schmidt said. “Our relays, we have six or seven guys who are competing and we had to have a runoff now because it’s so close for the top four.”
Possibly the feature event of the night will be the 1,600 relay. Kaneland has a best of 3:22.8 but North’s quartet did a 3:21.75 at the Penn Relays Carnival last week.
Times might be enhanced even further by the newly resurfaced Central track.
“We just need the weather to cooperate now,” Schmidt said.
Big Northern girls
Central girls coach Vince Neil can’t be certain which direction to look for challenges to his team’s title defense in the Big Northern meet.
“It’s going to be a dogfight with five teams, same as it was last year,” he said.
Rock Falls, Marengo, Richmond-Burton, and Oregon figure to battle the Rockets for points. Central stood fourth going into the next to last event last year before pulling it out.
“I hadn’t been in a track meet that close as an athlete or coach,” Rockets coach Vince Neil said. “It was a lot of fun. Every single kid mattered. It will be that way again Thursday.
“You always say every point counts and every athlete matters, but this time it’s obvious.”
The Rockets have gotten off to strong starts in field events at most their meets, and hope to do it again. Katie Trupp is only three inches shy of the Rockets’ school pole vault record of 12 feet held by Autumn Conn. She’s been on hold for a few weeks in the high jump with a high of 5-5 1/2.
“She’s definitely capable of breaking that pole vault record,” Neil said. “She already has the record in the high jump and long jump. She’s somebody with the ability to walk out of Central with three varsity records.”
Kayla Wolf at 2:18.02 is just .6 off her career best in the 800, but the key to whether the Rockets can win the meet is scoring points in the relays.
“We’ll have to pick and choose who is running where in those to maximize our points,” Neil said.
Jasmine Castillo and Bryce Weinrich are both sub-50 seconds in the 300 hurdles and Weinrich at 17.1 in the shorter race, which gives Central a chance to score heavily in those events, as well.
The Rocket girls host a Class 2A sectional a week from Friday.
Elgin hosts the Upstate Eight girls meet Thursday night in what figures to be a tight battle between Neuqua Valley and St. Charles East, as it was indoors. Neuqua won the indoor title. The Saints’ hopes revolve largely around their relay teams and the running of Britney Williams and Jordan Sheade, who have both gone sub-59 seconds and well below state qualifying standard in the 400. Williams is top seed in the 100 (12.03) and also has run the best 800 (2:18.87), although that’s not her event. The Saints are seeded first in the 800 (1:48.1), 1,600 (3:59.89) and 3,200 (9:20.13) relays.
Grayslake Central hosts the Fox Valley girls meet Thursday. Jacobs’ Lauren Van Vlierbergen, who has bettered state time in both the 800 (2:13.67) and 1,600 (5:05.04), is among the featured favorites. Other top area seeds include 300 hurdler Katelyn Luebke (48.46) and high jumper Omo Tseumah (5-8) from Huntley, and 400-meter runner Ashley Fouch (57.55) and shot putter Jennifer Dumoulin (40-2) from Hampshire. Van Vlierbergen also heads up a Jacobs 3,200 relay team that rates No. 1 (9:29.89), while Huntley relay teams have top seeds in the 400 (51.43) and 1,600 (4:09.55).
Streamwood’s Tae Reetz is the latest sprinter to go sub-23 seconds in the area, with a 22.8-second clocking. Dundee-Crown’s Austin White still holds down area best in the 200 (22.47). … Bartlett’s Connor Rachford has brought his 800 time down to 1:57.87, just .63 off Class 3A state qualifying time. Jacobs’ Nick Matysek is the only area 3A runner below state standard in that race (1:57.13).