Boys track and field: Batavia's 1,600 relay caps sectional title
Featured prominently across Batavia's track team shirt reads the message "setting the standard."
It's a testament to what it collectively must do as a team to qualify individuals and relays to state.
But also win a team sectional title, which was finished with an exclamation point. The 1,600 relay team of Jacob Holmann, Tyler Piron, Jonah Fallon and Anthony Bradley blazed to a 3:22.54 first-place finish to cap off the Bulldogs' team title of the Class 3A Batavia sectional on Thursday.
"We started running back in November for this, we've been training all winter," Fallon said. "We knew track didn't start for five more months, but we had our mindset in the right place: It got us here, and we've got one more week."
The Bulldogs ran away with the sectional title, finishing with 109 points. St. Charles North followed in second with 88. Barrington took third with 71.
"When we were done with football and getting ready to start track, I had a lot of guys that ran track over the years. Guys were done," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "I had a lot of kids, rightfully so, were just mentally done. And, they were some of our top returning guys; they didn't come out."
"So, what you're looking at is a team of guys: A few A-teamers, but a lot of B and C-teamers. But, what those guys did was: during COVID time, they would meet at a track and run. They would do a workout. If we had football practice, they would do a conditioning session maybe once or twice a week. And, the result is, I think you're seeing, our strength is always our sprint relays: [800 and 1,600]. We look fantastically strong."
Batavia's Jalen Buckley (6.72 meters) qualified in long jump by taking second place behind Bartlett's Josh Zolecki (6.79 meters). Bulldogs sophomore Quintin Lowe (1:58.63) came from behind in the final 50 meters to best St. Charles North's Ryle Traub for second place and qualified in the 800 meters. Geneva's Tim Archibald was first (1:57.50).
The Bulldogs also took first in the 800 meter relay (1:28.54), besting DeKalb (1:30.14). In the 400-meter dash, Fallon (49.35), DeKalb's JaMari Newell (49.58) and South Elgin's Konrad Sacha (49.91) all qualified.
Kaneland's Porter Conroy qualified in the high jump for his first trip to Charlestown. Batavia's Casey Carlson also qualified.
Conroy, an Eastern Illinois commit, won't truly be too far from his future home.
"It's amazing. I've been working my butt off, I'd like to say, since freshman year to get up there and qualify," Conroy said. "I really feel like I showed what I can truly do this year, and I know I cam show more at the state next week so I'm super excited."
Kaneland's Aiden Gatz and Ted Allen, Batavia's Nick Fortino, Geneva's Roman Cramer and St. Charles North's Josh Kolodziej all qualified in pole vault.
"I didn't think I would be here four years ago, but here I am," Gatz said. "Took a lot of work, but here we are."
As a freshman, Gatz was only jumping approximately 8-feet. But, through dedication and lots of practice, he can now say he's among the state's top pole vaulters.
"Took a long time, but we finally got there," Gatz said. "Grew, got stronger, faster ... It didn't really start to click until this year."
St. Charles North will send Max Galvan to state in triple jump. Paolo Gennarelli won discus (50.84 meters), followed by Marmion's Dan Coxworth (47.28 meters). Gennarelli also won shot put (16.15 meters).
"[I've] been working hard for this," Gennarelli said. "I wasn't very happy with my discus performance at conference, so I made sure to get as many reps in as I could this week, and even worked on it over the weekend."
"It paid off with a big personal record, so I'm pretty pumped," Gennarelli continued. "I wasn't very pleased with the way I threw shot today but I will fix it by state. Qualifying for shot was expected but there is still a lot of work to do."
The North Stars' 400 meter relay won first place (42.33), while Batavia's (42.59) took second and qualified. North Stars junior Josh Duncan won the 100-meter dash (10.84 seconds) and the 200 (22.19). DeKalb's DeMarrea Davis took second (22.20).
St. Charles East is sending its 3,200-meter relay after winning with a 8:00.41 second time. Luke Schildmeyer (4:18.96) and Micah Wilson (4:21.12) went first and second, respectively, in the mile. DeKalb's Riley Newport barely took third (4:21.36) and Barrington's Jack Fitzpatrick (4:21.82) also qualified for state.