The final day of a bizarre, shortened athletic season wraps up with the boys track and field 3A state meet on a sweltering Saturday. Five of our area teams are competing down at Eastern Illinois for top times and state medals. So everybody get set, let’s go, and we are under way in the 2021 State Finals.
Let’s start with the triple jump and Naperville North senior Justin Gnaden. Despite scratching on his first two attempts, the final jump for the sectional champion is a PR of 13.63 meters. That puts the Huskie in 9th place and earns All-State status. Leslie Fisher from Normal Community West is the state champion at 14.67 meters.
Now let’s join the strong men with Naperville Central Freshman Maverick Ohle in the discus. On attempt number 3 the Redhawk rips a throw 48.46 meters, and earns a 5th place finish and a new PR in his first state appearance. Ryan Fault from Glenbrook South wins with a toss of 54.54 meters.
4X800 Meter Relay
Now let’s go racing boys. Neuqua Valley’s 4 by 8 group with Nicolas Dovalovsky as the anchor and he powers his way ahead of Minooka’s Vincent Van Ek to win the State title for the blue and gold. The Wildcat group of Dovalovsky, Austin Burke, Leif Anderson, and Nick Rowling finish with a time of 7:49. A great start for the Wildcats who qualified all four relays.
4X200 Meter Relay
And here is another relay with the 4X200. We got a group of Huskies and Wildcats as Max Rivera and Carson Marlar start for their teams. Nathan Howard and Patrick Conniff also running for NV while Andrew Li and Henry Young run for the Huskies. On the last handoff it’s Neuqua’s Kevin Saju ahead of North’s Nathan Jacobs. But in the end it’s the Batavia relay team taking the title with a time of 1:27.80. Neuqua finishes 5th, Minooka in 2nd, Homewood-Flossmoor 3rd and Naperville North in 9th.
110 Meter Hurdles
More jumping is coming your way, this time in the hurdles. Metea Valley junior Jalen Johnson is in a battle with Evanston’s Khalil Johnson along with Lockport’s Gabe Czako. Khalil Johnson takes first at 14.01, Czako 2nd and the Mustang finishes in third. Sean Kirkwood from Waubonsie Valley with a PR and All-State honors in 5th at 14.92.
300 Meter Hurdles
Here is Jalen again in the 300 hurdles and again he’s battling Khalil Johnson and Gabe Czako. It’s a longer race but the same result Khalil 1, Gabe Czako 2, and Jalen Johnson 3. The two third place finishes are the best in Metea Valley boys track and field history.
Time to run the mile with four laps around the blue track. Senior Arthur Graham from Naperville Central is in full control of the first heat. The Redhawk wins the heat with a time of 4:17.45 and gets an All-State 8th place finish overall.
In the next heat we got Neuqua senior Nicolas Dovalovsky stuck in the middle of the pack initially, but on the next trip around he is in a first place battle with St. Charles East’s Luke Schildmeyer but a lot can change in the last lap. Jacob Meyers from Lake Zurich blows past everyone down the home stretch and wins the mile at 4:10.63 as Dovalovsky ends up taking third, pulling Neuqua Valley into second place in the team standings.
Now to the 200 with Neuqua junior Max Mitchell coming in to the race after taking 9th in the 400. At the line Edwardsville senior Brandon Battle, who also won the 400 and the 100 takes the win over Tyler Colwell from Minooka. Mitchell picks up 5 key points for his team in 5th place. It’s now a three way tie between Neuqua, Normal West, and Minooka heading into the final event.
The 4X400 is always an exciting way to finish the boys state track meet, especially when it will decide the state champion. Normal does not have a team in the final race while Minooka finished at 3:23.97 in the first 4X400 heat. So as long as Neuqua Valley beats that time in the second heat, they will win the state championship.
The Wildcat group of Aleksandras Majus, Kevin Saju, Nathan Howard and Max Mitchell giving it all they have. The race itself is won by Hinsdale Central with Batavia and Plainfield South just behind. But at the line Max Mitchell crosses at 3:23.45. A 7th place finish never looked so good as That gives Neuqua Valley the 3A boys track and field State Championship. The Wildcats take home their second state title after winning in 2018 as well. Minooka earns 2nd place just two points behind with Normal West in third. What a way to end the 2020-21 season!