DGN at indoor Silver Meet (varsity)

Wednesday, April 8 2015 - West Suburban Conference - Silver Division

For Downers Grove North senior Ryan Clevenger and recent graduate Zack Smith, the indoor 1,600-meter school record often was a subject of debate.

“It’s one of those records where some people overlook it because it’s slower than the rest of them,” Clevenger said. “We joked last year that it’s a record where the time is just fast enough where you have to race hard to get it but slow enough to the point where if you run slow in a championship race you’re not going to get it.”

On Saturday, March 21, Clevenger had one final chance to break the record at the indoor West Suburban Conference Silver Division Meet at Proviso West.

After a blistering start, Clevenger held on for second place in 4:20.70 fully automatic time to break the previous record of 4:21.80 set by Luke Ryan in 2007.

“I’m happy to take it down and have my name on the records board,” Clevenger said. “That record’s kind of been around for a while now. Last year, Zack and I didn’t really set a mission to go get it, but we were like, ‘It’s something that needed to go down.’ ”

The Trojans had several strong performances despite finishing seventh (41 points). Downers North also kept all of its potential sophomore or freshman varsity contributors on the sophomore level to help the Trojans win that title for the first time dating back to the start of indoor conference meets in 1966.

By one point, Oak Park-River Forest (116 points) won its first indoor Silver title since 2012 over York (115), followed by Lyons Township (82), Hinsdale Central (60), Proviso West (58) and Glenbard West (54).

Senior Jack Diamond was second in the 800 (2:00.53).

The Trojans’ 3,200 relay of Diamond, senior Zac Christensen, junior Robby Prescott and Clevenger also finished third in 7:56.82 – the second-fastest indoor time in program history.

Junior Zack Hogan was third in triple jump (41 feet-11 3/4 inches) and fifth in long jump (19-3). Seniors Max Sale (45-7) and Alex Graika (44-6) were third and fourth in shot put, and senior Jack McGinnis was sixth in the 400 (53.79).

Last May, Clevenger ran the outdoor school record for the 1,600 (4:11.20) to finish an all-state third Class 3A state meet -- only .005 of a second out of second place and behind two seniors. The 3,200 relay with Clevenger, Diamond and Christensen and graduated Tony Zea was an all-state eighth in 7:47.95.

On Saturday, LT junior Connor Madell won the 1,600 (4:19.98) with Clevenger holding off York senior Matt Plowman (4:23.05) and Glenbard West senior Jake Jaskowiak (4:23.96).

Clevenger had a significant lead in the early portion of the race as he took out the first two of the eight laps (400 meters) in 1:00.1. He was 2:08.3 at the halfway point.

“I never really went out that fast before in the (1,600) – indoors or outdoors. It took a lot of getting used to, but I found a new level of how much I could endure and I pushed through it and got second so it was good,” Clevenger said. “I wanted to get the record, to set (the race) up fast. In case if I don’t win, I’ll still get the record. That (59-second 400) was a little faster than I wanted to go. It was a little leeway to help get the record and make sure I didn’t fall behind pace.”

Madell took over the lead during the fifth lap. Clevenger remained within a second of him through six laps (3:16 to 3:17.6) and within two seconds with one lap left (3:48 to 3:50.6). Clevenger closed in 30.7 to fend off a quickly charging Plowman.

“Part way through, I didn’t really know if I was even going to be able to do it. I was so tired today for some reason,” Clevenger said. “If somebody made a move for some reason, I would not be able to catch them, but I was still able to find it in me to get second, just because of the hot pace early on.”

The effort and perseverance showed that Clevenger is pretty much back to 100 percent after having his offseason work affected by tapering for cross country nationals and a later bout of bronchitis. Clevenger also set the record after earlier running an indoor personal-record 1:55.2 split to lead off the 3,200 relay.

Diamond (1:59.2) and Christensen (2:00.0) also ran indoor PRs and Prescott (2:02.0) had a lifetime PR.  

The only faster time in indoor school history than Saturday was 7:55.87 last year at North Central College by Clevenger, Diamond, Smith and Zea at Downers Grove South’s Mustang Relays. Saturday’s time also is under the state-qualifying standard of 7:58.04.

“(More confidence by) 100 percent because we’ve already hit the outdoor mark. Going into sectionals, we shouldn’t have any anxiety or anything like that,” Diamond said. “We know we already have the ability indoors. Hopefully we can best that time outdoors by a significant amount, too.”

The Trojans already have made big strides. The same foursome dropped roughly seven seconds from their seventh-place 8:03.87 at the Mustang Relays March 9 at North Central.

Saturday’s lineup was the same yet completely different. At North Central, the order was Clevenger, Prescott, Christensen and Diamond.

“I think it actually worked out pretty well how we ended up running it. I’m not sure if it’s a different day or it kind of ended up how it worked with our lineup,” Christensen said.

“I expected quick (as a group). I’m not sure I expected that fast. I was a little surprised we were down that far, but I expected to go sub-8:00. That was something we definitely were trying to do.”

Diamond later took second in the 800 to Plowman (1:59.14) and held off LT junior Andrew Best (2:00.56) at the finish by .03. In their individual events, Prescott was seventh in the 600 (1:27.04), .10 from sixth, and Christensen was eighth in the 1,600 (4:38.97).

“I was a little bit tired from the (3,200 relay), but I ran an honest race,” Diamond said. “I tried to take the legs out of the field to take the kickers out of it and I’m proud of how it ended up really. I’m happy with today.” 

-- By Bill Stone