Naperville North golden in relays with DeSean Brown

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DeSean Brown had only one thought as the 800-meter relay approached its denouement last week at the DuPage Valley Conference championship.

“We got caught (on the second leg), and Adam (Milsap regained the momentum and) extended the lead,” Brown said of the boys track and field sprint relay. “At that point it was all about staying in front.”

The Naperville North senior, bound for Lafayette College in Pennsylvania to play FCS football next fall, held off his fellow anchor from Wheaton North to capture the Huskies’ lone running championship in one minutes and 31.09 seconds.

The conference victory ended a serious drought in the event for Naperville North.

“It had been like 18 years (since the last league championship in the relay),” Brown said.

“Me and DeSean have been handing off for years,” said Milsap, a fellow senior. “I have full in confidence in him (to finish).”

The Huskies’ 400 and 800 sprint relays have been consistent point-earners for Naperville North this spring.

But the squads’ legitimacy will be sorely tested at the Class 3A Joliet West Sectional. Earning berths to the state meet next week at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston will be on the line.

“We are relying heavily on our relays going into sectionals,” Naperville North coach Jim O’Connell said. “We have a loaded four-by-one and four-by-two at our sectional. We are going to have to give it everything we’ve got.”

Juniors Cameron Knox and Davin Collier, a transfer from suburban Detroit, are the Huskies’ other members of the 800 relay. Colin Herbstritt replaces Knox as the lead leg in the 400 quartet.

Brown, who was also runner-up in the triple jump (41 feet, 2.5 inches) at conference, was edged at the wire for another relay triumph at 400 meters by Wheaton North’s Steven Connor, the 200 champion.

Naperville North finished in fourth place at the conference meet with 86 points.

Brown will skip the triple jump in the state series to focus on the two relays and the open 200.

“We have to run a lot of 200s, a lot of 100s (in practice) for the endurance side of it,” Brown said of the relays’ preparations.”

“The thing we need to capitalize on is our handoffs,” Milsap said of the key to advance. “We are trying to get our steps down and make sure (the handoffs) are fluid.”

Brown also has designs of qualifying for state in the 200 dash.

“I expect to make finals (at Joliet West),” Brown said. “Once you make finals, it’s all about all the hard work you have put in all year. It will be my last event after the relays, and I’m going to give it my all.”

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