Boys track and field: Batavia brings home 3A state title
CHARLESTON -- Batavia's Johan Fallon had his eyes set on a bigger prize on Saturday afternoon.
After finishing in second place in the 400-meter dash at the Class 3A state track and field state meet finals with a personal-record time of 48.49 seconds, Fallon shifted his attention toward guiding the Bulldogs to win the team title.
By running a solid anchor leg of the 1,600-meter relay, Fallon helped the Bulldogs score 10 points to lift them to first-place in the final 3A team standings with 37 points. Warren and Edwardsville both tied for second place with 30 points, though neither team had a relay in the 1,600, the final event of the meet. The Bulldogs' zoomed to a winning time of 3:19.81 to nudge out runner-up Hinsdale Central (3:20.28) and Evanston (3:21.42) to seal the first boys track team championship in program history.
Fallon relied on strong kick to edge out Hinsdale Central's Daniel Watcke, who placed second in the 800 finals, in the final 100 meters.
"I knew Watcke is a really strong runner and knew he would be behind me," Fallon said. "I got the baton in second, and the team did what we had to do and they knew what my strength was. I got in first, and just held it as long as I could.
"I always run better in relays than individual events because I have to perform better for them. With the team title on the line, that was all I was thinking about."
The Bulldogs' 1,600 relay consisted of Vincie Solano, Jacob Hohmann, Andrew Gerke and Fallon. Running the third leg, Gerke said he ran his best leg of the season in the 1,600.
"I was just trying to get off to a good start and put my team to the best position possible," Gerke said. "They've been harping on me all year to get out as fast as I can, then glide through as much as I can and push through it."
The Bulldogs spread points all over the 18-event meet, sparked by a first-place in the triple jump by senior Jalen Buckley (14.85 meters). The Western Michigan football recruit capped his final track day with an individual and team title.
"I knew I had to win it to help the team," Buckley said. "I got it on my last jump. I knew I had to get points for the team. I tried to worry about myself and just jump. I'm happy to enjoy the ride back with my team."
The Bulldogs claimed a fifth-place medal in the 400 relay in a time of 42.57, while Scot Parker earned eighth in the 200.
In other events, St. Charles North's Paolo Gennarelli closed out a solid career with a second-place medal in the shot put (18.14 meters) and fourth in the discus (53.80). Cary-Grove's Zachary Petko finished eighth in the shot put.
"I didn't expect more than finishing in second with the competition," Gennarelli said. "The competition was really good."
Micah Wilson, a St. Charles East senior, nearly won his second straight state title in the 3,200, but ended in third place in a time of 9:04. Wilson, a Wisconsin recruit, recorded a fourth-place finish in the 1,600 (4:12).
"This was a pretty good day overall, but didn't get exactly what I wanted out of my races," Wilson said. "It's kind of crazy, though. This is the last day in this jersey is special."
Larkin's Jamarion Stubbs snared a fourth-place medal in he 300 hurdles with a clocking of 38.73 seconds.
Aurora Central Catholic's Patrick Hilby was one of the standouts in the Class 2A field. He gained two medals, taking third in the 800 and sixth in the 400. Kaneland's best performance came in the 1,600 relay, with Palmer Behrends, Chris Ruchaj, Jai Sekhon and Sam Gagne earning third in a time of 3:24.
"I was really nervous going into this meet, since it was my first year running track and just went out with no regrets and went out and finished hard," Behrends said.
Gagne, one of two seniors in the relay, said he saw an opening to help improve Kaneland's placing from fourth to third.
"I knew I had to make up some ground after starting fourth," he said. "I made my move around the backstretch. This is a great group, and we've been working hard all year."
Burlington Central's Zac Schmidt took fifth in the 200 dash, while Yusuf Baig placed sixth in the 3,200 and seventh in the 1,600. The Rockets' 400 relay managed a fourth-place time of 42.66.
In Class 1A, Harvest Christian Academy was paced by Daniel Winkelman's second-place showing in the 1,600 (4:19) and sixth-place in the 800 (1:56).
Teammate Cannon Lambert earned a fourth-place finish in the 400 dash, and the 3,200 relay team took third place.