Wheaton North head coach Don Helberg knew his boys track team was special, he just hoped his athletes would rise to the occasion at the Dupage Valley Conference indoor championship.
And boy did they ever. The Falcons soared past the competition, tallying 143 points to become conference champions.
“I knew that we were deep in all the events. We just challenged our guys to rise up to the occasion and we had personal records set almost across the boards,” said Helberg. “We wanted to do well, and we did even better than we expected.”
West Aurora finished second with 82 points, paced by their 200 relay team (Marquette Sanchez, Tony Oros, Parrish McGhee, Benny Prunty) which took first place and set a meet record (1.32:32).
“That was exciting. Those kids ran really well, they competed their butts off,” said West Aurora head coach Cortney Lamb. “Benny Prunty on that anchor leg was impressive. That was really neat to watch.”
Parrish McGhee was the Blackhawks’ workhorse, according to his head coach. McGhee ran in four different events, and placed in three of them—finishing third in the 200, sixth in the 55 dash and first as part of the 200 relay.
Lamb was pleased with his team’s second place finish, and believes it’s a sign of good things to come in the spring.
“We’re very happy with this finish tonight. It’s a great meet to build on going into the outdoor season,” said Lamb. “I think we’re going to see some special things from these kids outdoors”
Naperville Central finished fourth with 66 points while Naperville North finished sixth with 31 points.
Central captured first place in four events, including both the 400 and 800 relays. Sam Bransby captured first for the Redhawks in the 400, and was part of the first-place 400 relay. Mike Juretschke took first in the pole vault.
Jimmy Qiao placed in two events for North, finishing fifth in the 1600 and second as part of the 800 relay. In total, six Huskies placed in their events, with Nick Lyon posting the best finish (second place, pole vault).
Five Wheaton North athletes took first place in their events: Alex Ryan (800), Paul Steeno (1600), Marcus Charles (200), Christian Hollinger (shot put) and Zac Daniels (triple jump). The Falcons had two athletes finish in the top-six of six different individual events (3200 meter, 55 meter, 400 meter, shot put, pole vault and triple jump).
“I think we’re a well balanced team, and that made the difference,” said Helberg.
I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times and yourseason.com. It appears here.