Neuqua cruises to title

Friday, May 14 2010 - -

Neuqua cruises to title

Wildcats domisteepleweb relays; Waubonsie Valley takes second

May 14, 2010 

STREAMWOOD -- This one was for the team.

With several Neuqua Valley athletes primed to qualify for the state track and field meet at sectionals next weekend, winning the Upstate Eight Conference crown was something that coach Michael Kennedy wanted for the rest of the team, and he got it.

The Wildcats cruised to the win with 149 points to easily out-distance second-place Waubonsie Valley's 111 points. East Aurora placed seventh with 26 points.

"This meet is very important to us for the team aspect because we have so many people who may not place at state, may not qualify, but at the same time, they're contributing to us," Kennedy said. "But a lot of them are getting ready to qualify."

One of those guys was senior Aryan Avant, who may have been the star of the meet. He started out by teaming with Thaddeus Johnson, Adegbenga Okubadejo and Jamere Morrison to win the 400 relay. He followed that with a 49.31 in the 400 meters to win ahead of teammate Steve Carron (49.66). He capped his day with a 22.41 in the 200 meters to edge Waubonsie Valley's Danny Tucker by 0.02 seconds.

"I wanted to break the school record (in the 200, 21.84 by Prince Riley)," Avant said. "I didn't get it, but I'll probably break it at sectionals. I didn't get out of the box at all. I always start my kick around the curve, then it's a straight shot. I got him, and I knew I could get him."

The 400 was just part of the Wildcats' dominance in the relays. They won all four relay events at the meet. Johnson and Morrison teamed with Cale Brown and Jake Bender to win the 800 relay (1:29.42) in dominating fashion. Carron, Morrison, Brown and Bender combined to win the 1,600 (3:21.25) and Aaron Beatty, Brown, Carron and Vincenzo Dal Pozzo won the 3,200 (8:10.06).

"We thought we'd do well in relays," Kennedy said. "We have a lot of guys that can score in open events. When you start putting them in relays, that's strong. We have a ton of guys we can use there. It's a nice problem to have, but you hate to leave somebody off."

Johnson also won the 100 in thrilling fashion over Tucker, 11.08 to 11.09. Beatty had Neuqua's other win in the mile (4:24.50), just ahead of teammate David Wing (4:24.95).

Waubonsie Valley had only one competitor win an event, Rickie Walls, but still finished ahead of Lake Park for second place as a team. The Warriors were seeded to finish third as a team. Walls won twice in the field to pace Waubonsie. He won the triple jump with a 45-6½ and the long jump with a 22-1¾.

"We had kids making the finals that weren't supposed to make the finals, we had kids finishing higher than they were seeded," Waubonsie coach Kevin Rafferty said. "That's all you ask kids to do at a meet like this."

Waubonsie had several near-misses as well. Tucker was exhilarating in the 100 and 200, but came up just short. James Davenport (6-7) finished second in the high jump on a tiebreaker. Andrew Szott was second in the shot put (58-4) and the 400 and 800 relay teams also placed second.

"All of those things are positives," Rafferty said. "It's a nice warm-up for next week."

East Aurora managed a pair of second-place finishes. Charles Pool was second in the long jump (21-10¼) and the 1,600 relay team was second in 3:28.46.

Boys Track: UEC Meet