Boys track: Glenbard West wins first sectional in 32 years

  • Glenbard West's Adam Dau watches the flight of his discus during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet.

    Glenbard West's Adam Dau watches the flight of his discus during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • York's Charlie Kern runs the anchor leg for a 4x800 meter relay win during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet.

    York's Charlie Kern runs the anchor leg for a 4x800 meter relay win during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Conant's Michael Barberini runs the anchor leg of the 4x800 meter relay during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet.

    Conant's Michael Barberini runs the anchor leg of the 4x800 meter relay during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Wheaton Warrenville South's DJ Almeda runs the anchor leg in the first heat of the 4x100 meter relay during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet.

    Wheaton Warrenville South's DJ Almeda runs the anchor leg in the first heat of the 4x100 meter relay during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbard West's Brady Heller, right, runs the winning anchor leg of the 4x100 meter relay during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet.

    Glenbard West's Brady Heller, right, runs the winning anchor leg of the 4x100 meter relay during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Wheaton North's Connor Zydek wins the 3200 meter run during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet.

    Wheaton North's Connor Zydek wins the 3200 meter run during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Wheaton North's Josh James, left, battles Rolling Meadows' Tim Szlak in the 110 meter hurdles during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet.

    Wheaton North's Josh James, left, battles Rolling Meadows' Tim Szlak in the 110 meter hurdles during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Wheaton Warrenville South's Cedric Rowzee wins the 100 meter dash during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet. Running close behind are York's Christopher Radcliff and Deandre Klein along with Wheaton North's Prince Tarpeh.

    Wheaton Warrenville South's Cedric Rowzee wins the 100 meter dash during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet. Running close behind are York's Christopher Radcliff and Deandre Klein along with Wheaton North's Prince Tarpeh. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Wheaton North's Connor Zydek is congratulated by distance coach Jeff Potter after winning the 3200 meter run during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet.

    Wheaton North's Connor Zydek is congratulated by distance coach Jeff Potter after winning the 3200 meter run during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/19/2018 12:24 AM

Alec Pierce said he's always been a track guy. But not since ruling at Hadley Junior High had he gone out for the sport until this, his senior year at Glenbard West.

Pierce has made up for lost time. Friday at the Class 3A Glenbard North boys track sectional the Cincinnati football recruit helped the Hilltoppers advance 10 positions, including all four relays, into next week's state meet. Glenbard West won its first boys sectional track title since 1986 with Pierce and Brady Heller each qualifying in three relays and an individual event.

 

"I knew we had guys who were really fast," said Pierce, who ran on the 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter relays and qualified in triple jump at 44 feet, 10 inches. "We had three really fast guys, and they needed a fourth."

Aided by other fast guys like Tyquan Cox, Joe Zydlo, Cam Benes and Stephen Moody plus discus winner Adam Dau, Glenbard West's 131 points led the field. WW South (115.50), Wheaton North (107) and York (98) followed.

Great stories abounded. Willowbrook sophomore Liam Riesen hadn't run on varsity this spring and only once indoors but found himself the No. 2 seed in the 400 behind West Chicago's Zenen Cardenas. That's where Riesen finished, good for a trip to Charleston.

"I was like, I actually have a chance to make state," Riesen said. "I was really nervous. This was the most important meet of my track career."

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And Cardenas himself. In 2017 three times he ran 400-meter qualifying times but not at the sectional. Friday the senior won it in 49.31 seconds and qualified in the 200 behind Cedric Rowzee of WW South, also the 100 winner.

"I didn't think it was just good for me, but good for our school, because our school has been missing some qualifiers over the past couple years," Cardenas said. "It shows that our coaches are doing something right."

Wheaton North's Jake Johnson watches the flight of his discus during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet.
Wheaton North's Jake Johnson watches the flight of his discus during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet. - Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Wheaton North's Kevin Riley followed teammate Connor Zydek's winning 3,200-meter move to join qualifiers including Moody and WW South's Billy Hauenstein, always good for late thunder. Riley, a senior, is in his first year of track but has run cross country plus gymnastics and swimming.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Probably the indoor DuPage Valley Conference (meet) was when I realized I might have a shot at (qualifying)," Riley said. "I ran 9:36 and that was the first time I realized state might be a real possibility this season."

York's Charlie Kern and Wheaton North's Joey Simon will make return trips downstate in the 800, joined by Benes; WW South's Sean Maison and York's Sean MacGregor qualified in the 1,600.

Wheaton North's Josh James and Rolling Meadows' Tim Szylak advanced in the 110 hurdles, a bang-bang finish. WW South's Joey Zubak and Heller went 1-2 in the 300 hurdles.

After high jump winner Ben LeVasseur of Wheaton North, Glenbard North's Randy Schmitz squeezed into second place with a cleaner sheet than the third-place finisher, no misses through 6 feet. Schmitz will miss his graduation ceremony to compete in Class 3A.

"I've had two sisters graduate, so I've been to graduation. The only difference would be me sitting in the chair," he said.

Lake Park's Danny Spejcher hadn't competed since an early-April meet due to injury. He long-jumped 21 feet, 4 inches on his first and only attempt, good for the win. Teammate Solomon Sangobowale didn't even have a seed mark in triple jump due to injury; he finished second to Pierce to qualify.

Glenbard West's Rory Cavan runs the anchor leg of the 4x800 meter relay during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet.
Glenbard West's Rory Cavan runs the anchor leg of the 4x800 meter relay during the Glenbard North Class 3A boys sectional track meet. - Daniel White | Staff Photographer

They and pole vaulters Tommy Paprocki and Zach Frye will be coach Jay Ivory's last boys in Charleston. The 18-year head coach will just coach Lake Park girls cross country after this season.

"It's strange, kind of a weird feeling. It's not really set in," Ivory said. "I just focused on the kids, hoping they PR'd tonight, and then whatever happens after that is great."

Rolling Meadows junior Tim Szylak qualified in the 300 hurdles in 2017, but this year he made it instead in the 110s, clocked at 14.99 seconds, .01 second behind Wheaton North's Josh James. Szylak finished fourth in the 300s.

"It's a great experience," he said. "Just running track has taught me that if you want to get better then you have to work for it, and it just helps to become a better person overall."

Teammate Will Rezny won the shot put, at 55 feet, 8 inches, his best throw on his last. A senior, last year he missed reaching the state meet by 4 inches. Looking back, he doesn't think that was necessarily a bad thing.

"It pushed me," he said.

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