DGN at indoor Silver Meet (sophomores)

Wednesday, April 8 2015

As Downers Grove North sophomore Tariun Triplett prepared for his race in the 200-meter dash at the indoor West Suburban Conference Silver Division Meet, sophomore teammate Andrew Marszewski set an indoor sophomore-level school in the previous heat.

Triplett managed to do even better.

“Once I got done with my race, they said I broke the record, too, because I got a faster time. It was fun. (And) I got first overall,” Triplett said.

That was the kind of day it was for the Trojans Saturday, March 21, at Proviso West. They set four sophomore indoor school records and won the indoor conference title for the first time on the sophomore level dating back to the first indoor WSC Meet in 1966.

The Trojans’ 137 points beat second-place Lyons Township and York by 20 points. Oak Park-River Forest (98) was a close fourth, followed by Glenbard West (38), Hinsdale Central (28) and Proviso West (6).

“It was the conference meet on the line, but people were focused on winning as much as doing their best and focusing on the races and their events,” said freshman Mike Taylor. “It was exciting. We were all pretty antsy about the outcome, but once we got on the track, we were going to just focus on our races and whatever happens, happens.”

In the 200, Triplett (23.70 fully automatic time) and Marszewski (24.14) finished 1-2 as they both beat the previous indoor sophomore record of 24.3 (24.54 FAT converted) from 1999. Triplett also won the 55 (6.69) and was third in long jump (18 feet-9 inches).

Taylor won the 400 in 53.52 and edged the previous 2003 indoor school record of 53.4 (53.64 FAT converted).

Sophomore Alec Danner won the 3,200 (9:51.45) and was second in the 1,600 (4:37.99).

The second-place 1,600 relay of freshman Brendan Lockerby, sophomores Joe Keys and Jordan Wilde and Taylor (3:39.14) and second-place 800 relay of freshman Drew Shelly, Keys, sophomore Zharion Jackson and Triplett (1:38.70) broke previous school records.

The 1,600 relay broke the 3:41.17 set by the Trojans’ fourth-place finish at the Proviso West Invite Feb. 28. The 800 relay broke the mark of 1:39.0 (1:39.24 FAT converted) from 1976.

Keys and Taylor were second and third in the 55 high hurdles (8.45 and 8.74) and 55 low hurdles (8.01 and 8.28).

Sophomore Brandon Finklea was second in triple jump (36-2) in his first time competing the event. 

Marszewski also was third in the 55 (6.96) and 400 (53.87). Lockerby was third in the 600 (1:34.04). Sophomore Dan Ferenc was fourth in pole vault (10-0) and the 3,200 relay of freshman Ryan Birkmeier, sophomore Andrew Marek and freshmen Nick Chudzik and Sam McCool was sixth (9:13.61). Marek (2:13.7), Birkmeier (2:14.9), Chudzik (2:21.2) and McCool (2:23.7) all had personal-record splits.

“It means a lot because we kind of knew we had some better people on the team. We kept the best guys on sophomore (level) and we came together and we won it,” Keys said. “It’s just a great team effort altogether. Just all of the great athletes we have on this team just came together. We just wanted it.”

Triplett won the 55 Saturday by just .02 over OPRF’s Rino Watson (6.71). Triplett’s winning time just missed his sophomore indoor school record (6.4, 6.64 FAT converted) that he set earlier this season.

Triplett won his 200 heat by .64 over Watson (24.34), who ended up second overall to Marszewski, who won his three-runner heat by 1.07 seconds.

“The best part for me was maybe winning the 55 meter finals because I’ve always liked running the 55. That’s like my best event to do and I got first place. I liked it,” Triplett said.

“I knew I had to finish strong, finish big. My coach has been bugging me about that because I always slow down when I’m in the lead, but this time I stuck to the plan and won. I love Proviso West’s track. It’s perfect for me. This is my first indoor conference ever and it’s a pleasure to be here.”

Triplett also got to share in the 800 relay school record, a goal that just eluded the Trojans at the Proviso West Invite.
In that meet, the lineup of Marszewski, Taylor, Shelly and Triplett was second in 1:39.59, just .35 shy of the FAT-converted record mark. Jackson and Keys were additions to Saturday’s relay lineup.

“I’d say (the record) was a big motivation, pretty serious. I think we did a pretty good job,” Jackson said.

“The last time we did it, we were going for the record and we didn’t get it. Today we broke it by a full second so I thought it was pretty strong,” Shelly said. “Basically as (Triplett) got it, when he had just 100 meters left, I just knew we had it in the record books.”

The 1,600 relay already had tasted record success. Like the 800 relay, Marszewski once again was substituted out, this time for Wilde, to score team points individually in the preceding 200.

“I really liked the indoor season this year. It’s my first time running track,” said Taylor, who anchored in 54.0. “I set high goals for myself so I want to reach those goals. I think that’s what makes a good season, if I reach some of those goals. I have already set my goals for outdoor.”

Taylor took care of another goal when he beat the indoor 400 school record on top of his individual victory.

Taylor needed a record time to prevail. He won the final heat by .60 and probably would have run even faster had second-place Brandon Gage of OPRF (53.58) been in his heat.

“I love the 400 and I didn’t want anybody to be front of me at the end of that race,” Taylor said. “I was told what the records were two meets prior. I had an idea of what they were, but I really just wanted to PR my last time in the individual 400.”

Danner has plenty of varsity experience and was the team’s No. 2 finisher (50th) at the 3A boys cross country state meet Nov. 8 behind all-state senior Ryan Clevenger (4th). Danner ran varsity the last time the Trojans competed at Proviso West for the invite and was 20th in the 3,200 (10:21.35). That gave him the No. 5 seed entering Saturday’s race, and he knew he was going to perform significantly better.

“The last time I was here I was not feeling good at all,” Danner said. “The sole purpose of putting me on frosh-soph today was for (our team) to win. I just feel really satisfied that I contributed to that win. I had a good chunk of points (18) to give to that.”

Danner dominated the 3,200 as the only competitor to break 10:00 and won by nearly 11 seconds. With no one pushing him and the 1,600 still to run, Danner’s time would have placed eighth in the varsity race, where the Trojans had no entries.

Danner ran a solid 1,600, but ended up second to York’s Liam Hill (4:34.32) by 3.47 seconds. Danner, who would have again placed eighth in the varsity race, held off York’s Jackson Bode (4:38.73) by .74 to maintain second.

“I know I can do a lot better on the frosh-soph level, but there’s always competition,” Danner said. “(Hill) was good. He outkicked me at the end. I was surprised and stuff. It’s just exciting to know that there’s competition everywhere you go in this conference. Basically the state of Illinois is just really competitive. It gives me that extra edge in races.”

Finklea, meanwhile, was a pleasant surprise in triple jump. Finklea has competed long jump and sprints but this was his first time for triple jump in any meet.

Finklea began practicing during the week in anticipation of being in the meet lineup. He did not compete in long jump.

“It was a little hard at first, but it’s gotten better. (My jumps) went pretty well. I got a 34 and I scratched a couple of times,” Finklea said. “I thought I’d do better, honestly.”

Finklea’s 36-2 was well behind LT’s Thomas Saggau (39-7 1/4) but just good enough to be one inch ahead of third place and two inches ahead of third.

While he still is a ways off his goal of setting a school record, Finklea has made impressive progress since making his track debut in the team’s second meet of the season at Proviso West Feb. 20.

“I came out late because my main sport is football and I was concentrating on gaining weight. I reached 165 pounds and I came out for track,” Finklea said.

Keys had solid but bittersweet meet – second place in all four of his events. Besides the record-setting relays, Keys was second to York’s Obi Nnam in both hurdles races (8.39 and 7.96). Nnam edged Keys by .06 in the highs and .05 in the lows.

“It would have been nice to win a first place, but it’s still pretty good,” Keys said.

During the post-meet celebration, Downers North head coach Eric Buhot was excited about the performances that accompanied the high finishes and how the Trojans rose to the occasion when it mattered most.

Buhot also was quick to point out that ‘nothing’s guaranteed.’ An indoor conference title doesn’t automatically translate into another victory outdoors.

The Trojans certainly have the ability to make it happen.

“Definitely outdoor, for the sophomore level, we’re going to get even faster,” Keys said. “We’re going to train ever harder and win the outdoor title for sophomores, too. Hopefully.”

-- By Bill Stone