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Newms Notes - March 5, 2013

Published by
Mike Newman   Mar 5th 2013, 3:43pm

By Michael Newman


Here are the stories that just quite did not make the headlines but are some that need to be investigated to say the least. Every weekend from now until May will have meets that are big. This gives me a chance to look at the stories behind the stories. So here we go:


A freshman to be noticed

Skyler Bollinger (Yorkville HS, Yorkville) made her presence known on the cross country course last fall for the Lady Foxes as she was the #1 runner all season for the team. She ended her year finishing fifth in 2A. With Yorkville in 3A for track, you would think that this freshman would be swallowed up by some of the top runners that populate 3A.


Not so fast.


Bollinger started the season with a flurry on February 16th in a quad meet at Downers Grove South. She ran 2:23 in the 800 then came back and ran 5:10 for 1600. That time in the 1600 is currently the fifth fastest time in the state. It should be more noticeable considering the fact that she was wearing training flats. Notice it even more because of the track it was run on.


“Our indoor track is 160 Meters, but it really has four straights,” said Downers Grove South Girls Coach Doug Plunkett. “Considering she ran 5:10 on that track, that is a notable achievement on our track.”


Bollinger came back at the Mustang Relays at North Central College and put Yorkville in a commanding lead with a 2:19 opening split. It will be fun to watch when she runs against Perez, Fisher, and the Ackermans. She will be one runner that will be able to hold her own.


A 3200 that should not have been run


After he ran a 3200 Meter Run during a 3200 Meter Relay at the Mustang Relays at North Central College, Grant Nykaza (Beecher HS, Beecher) said in an interview with me that he felt like the race was like a time trial.


He was right on with that statement.


He was lost in the crowd as he ran 3200 Meters in 9:14, the second fastest time in the state. Hardly anyone was cheering for him and he went on his own pace while faster relay runners were zooming by him. He could have run that on a track somewhere by himself because that is what he was doing on that Monday night. To have run that fast, he needed a race where the attention was solely on him, not thrown into a relay.


It was the wrong idea at absolutely the wrong time. Ed Ernst, the coach of St. Ignatius, was approached with the idea of his runner Jack Keelan entering this as a match race. Ernst politely turned the request down rather having his runner compete in the 3200 and 1600 relays.


With approximately 5 laps to go, Nykaza was approaching the finish line as an exchange was being made in the relay. The relay runner’s exchange interfered with Nykaza’s pace slowing him down. In 3200’s, you will see runners being lapped indoors but in most cases it does not slow the runner down like it did here. He came to a complete stop.


I am glad Nykaza got his time for Arcadia. Running that solo like he did indicates to me that he is capable of running sub 9 outdoors. I wish he would have been in a meet where the crowds were cheering for him or the runners that were chasing him.


Downers Grove South has done a wonderful job growing this meet. It is a destination meet for many schools and it will continue to grow. But please, please, do not throw an individual in a relay race again!


A double that went unnoticed


At the York Invitational last Friday night, all the focus was on the race that Scott Milling (York HS, Elmhurst) and Nolan McKenna (Wheaton-Warrenville South HS, Warrenville) were running in the 3200. Back in the pack was sophomore Zach Dale (Conant HS, Hoffman Estates). The Conant runner finished third in third in this race improving his PR by 17 seconds (9:33.58). When I looked at the entries, I noticed that Dale was in the 1600. In fact, he was the only runner in the MEET that was doing that double. I was wondering how much he had in the tank.

He had plenty. Just like the 3200, Dale stayed back in the pack and made his move in the last 300 of that 1600 race.  He finished sixth, but his time was 4:28. An improvement of seven seconds on his PR off of a double…by a sophomore!

“Seeing him every day and seeing his work ethic, I tell the guys if you work hard and come into a meet, good things will happen,” said Conant Coach John Powers. “He looked terrific. I do not know what was better. The individual times that he ran or the two races together. During the week, he was unsure that he would be able to double. After he finished the 3200, he could not wait to race again.”


Lincoln-Way East’s 4 x 200 relay heads to New York


It will be a big week for the Lincoln-Way East Girls 4 x 200 Meter Relay. Last Monday at the Mustang Relays, the handoffs in the relay by East were shay at best. Thank goodness they had a big lead to get away with that. They will not have that luxury at the New Balance Indoor National Championships at the Armory.

Lincoln-Way East could be in contention for the championship, but the handoffs need to be crisp. Sprint coach Angelo Brown stated that they had time to iron that out. When asked about his chances going up against the top team in the nation Medger Evers of Brooklyn, Brown just smiled. “We are looking forward to the challenge,” he said smiling quietly.


Speaking of relays

I was at the ICOPS Championships at Lewis University watching the races go off. Then we got to the 4 x 200 Meter Relay. I thought I was at a NASCAR event. Batons flying, exchanges were not being made.


It was simple. Go to the open exchange.


Runners were trying to do blind handoffs on an indoor track. It was a disaster waiting to happen as runners took off too early and kept going because they could not hear their teammate yelling for them to stop. At an indoor facility, the noise is magnified.


“I was really against the open handoff until I heard Plainfield North Coach Tony Holler talk about the open handoff at a clinic,” said Waubonsie Valley Coach Kevin Rafferty. “From that point on, I have always used that handoff.” Rafferty wrote about that in his article which you can view here. The open handoff the two runners making the exchange can make eye contact and know if they need to slow down. Something I hope more schools start to do.


The Girls 3200

Tess Wasowicz (Palatine HS, Palatine) ran 10:59.9 at a triangular at Glenbard East last week making her the fifth girl in Illinois to go under eleven minutes for 3200 Meters. Nine runners in Illinois are ranked in the top 100 nationally. Incredible since Illinois has been on the track for only a month where the rest of the nation has had a 2 month head start.


Cheering a teammate

I e-mailed a coach to ask him if there were any notable performances by his team that would make TFX. He replied no but we did have a runner in our 1600 Meter Relay that stopped three times.


I stopped reading it for a second wondering what happened.


The coach explained that the runner was a freshman in his first year of track. He also explained to me he was a non-English speaking exchange student from Jamaica that was stopping because teammates were calling his name out and cheering him on.


Ah, the innocence of track. Maybe that is why it makes this sport so good!


Final Comment

To all the coaches that come up to me at a meet: Please do not ask me if I can help move a pit at the end of the night. The joke has gotten old. Funny still, but old.

I’m smiling as I write this.

Have a good week everyone!


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