DGN at Proviso West InviteTuesday, March 1 2016
Downers Grove North junior Tariun Triplett entered this indoor track season hoping to accomplish more by eating less of what he knows he really shouldn’t.
“Cheesy Cheetos. I’m going to miss those,” Triplett said. “After practice, I always have this habit of eating snacks, like chips and stuff. Now I’m starting to eat salads and just get more protein in me and working hard. It’s paying off.”
Triplett ran into the record books Saturday, Feb. 27, by setting the school indoor record for the 55-meter dash with 6.47 seconds fully automatic time at the 51st annual Proviso West Invitational.
Triplett broke the former record of 6.51 in the preliminaries. He then tied that mark in the finals to edge Hinsdale Central senior Kareem Muhammad (6.51) on a tiebreaker in the thousandths of a second for second teamwise and third overall.
“I’m pretty proud of that. I’ve just got to get back to practice. It’s a whole new day,” Triplett said. “It was amazing. Having my whole team, teammates cheering me on, everyone saying I’m the fastest in the school, it was great.”
The Trojans (28 points) finished ninth in what is generally regarded as the strongest regular-season indoor meet in the state.
Teams that brought full lineups earned points with top-six finishes but several other highly rated performers also competed as independent entries.
As a result, there were two heats of the 55 and 55 hurdles finals and some team competitors that did not finish among the top six overall still earned team points.
Senior Robby Prescott was second in the 1 mile run (4:29.30) teamwise and third overall.
Junior Joe Keys was third in the 55 hurdles teamwise (8.08) and fourth overall after running a personal-best 8.05 in the preliminaries.
The 1,600 relay was fifth (3:32.95).
Sixth-place finishers among teams were sophomores Ryan Birkmeier (1 mile in 4:36.76) and Michael Taylor (200 in 52.35), who were seventh and eighth overall, respectively.
The 800 relay (1:35.76) and junior Alec Danner (3,200 in 9:30.45) were both seventh teamwise and eighth and ninth overall, respectively.
Senior Zack Hogan was ninth in triple jump (42-3) and 11th overall, eight inches from sixth teamwise. Junior Dan Ferenc was 10th in pole vault, ending up third on a tiebreaker among three vaulters whose best was 12-6.
Triplett is known as Scooby, a nickname that goes back to his childhood days of waking up early just to watch Scooby-Doo on television. But unlike the cartoon dog, Triplett competes without fear.
In the 55 finals, Triplett only was beaten by Oak Park-River Forest senior Tyron Jones (6.43) and Bradley-Bourbonnais’ Camron Harrell (6.49), competing as an independent. They and Muhammad were in the same heat as Triplett.
“(Saturday) was very competitive. I’m racing against some of the best seniors and I’m still a junior. It’s very fun,” Triplett said.
Triplett wasn’t 100 percent healthy for last year’s sectionals but he’s trying to make sure he’ll be ready this May.
“I learned to make smart decisions, take better care of my body. I’m not having any injury problems so far. I’d like to keep that up,” Triplett said. “I’m taking my stretching and warmups more seriously now,” Triplett said.
“Breaking the record (is a highlight) but I want to break our record as my relay team. I can’t ask for a better team than them. We’ve got everything. I feel like we can beat it.”
The Trojans qualified once again as a team for the Class 3A boys cross country state meet Nov. 7 in Peoria. Danner was 19th to earn top-25 all-state honors and Birkmeier was the No. 3 finisher (122nd) for the 17th-place Trojans.
Prescott played an important role in the team’s success but sat out the state meet with the effects of peroneal tendinitis on the outside of his foot. He competed at sectionals but struggled as the team’s No. 7 finisher.
“It was bad timing but I just had to stay positive. I knew I still had track,” Prescott said. “I went to therapy the past couple of months. I’m fully healthy and now I’m putting in the miles and it’s paying off a lot.”
On Saturday, Prescott handled the fast start that he anticipated Saturday and accomplished his goal of placing among the top five. Birkmeier won the first of two heats for the 1 mile earlier in the meet by .86 but was 4.23 seconds from the closest finisher in the faster heat.
Prescott finished just 3.06 behind Buffalo Grove senior Kevin Salvano (4:26.24), the event champion who won the boys cross country state meet, and 1.59 seconds behind Oak Park-River Forest junior Irwin Loud (4:27.71), who earlier won the 3,200. Lyons Township senior Connor Madell and junior Vince Zona also were in the mix but disqualified after the race.
“(The leaders) were right in front of me. I was able to be right around them,” Prescott said. “It gave me a lot of confidence I can hang with these guys, that type of caliber of runners. I know when I run a 1,600, I’ll be a little faster.”
In the 55 hurdles, Keys’ lifetime-best 8.05 in the preliminaries was roughly a .3 drop from his best in 2015.
In the first heat of finals, Keys was third (8.08) out of Lane 3. He said the runner next to him brushed him slightly but that it didn’t drastically affect his time. Cahokia junior Marquis Murray (8.05) edged Keys in winning the second finals heat.
“It was pretty exciting. It’s just that second heat still kind of bothers me,” Keys said.
“I’m pretty encouraged. I was striving for a sub-8.0. I got .05 over. I’ve improved a lot. I’ve gotten a lot quicker, hitting the weights really improved me, the speed between the hurdles and everything.”
Keys hopes – and knows – he needs improvement before the indoor West Suburban Conference Silver Division Meet Friday, March 18, at York. OPRF senior Kabi Mwakyoma won Saturday in 7.87, and Hinsdale Central senior Jared Neumann and York junior Obi Nnam were just .04 behind him in the final (8.12).
“For conference, this is kind of a big pump up for it,” Keys said. “(Mwakyoma, Neumann and Nnam) are in our conference so I’ve got to get better to win conference for that. It should be a good one, though.”
In the 3,200, Danner basically equaled his personal-record time of 9:29.03 at last year’s sectionals that earned him a berth to the 3A boys track state meet last May. His splits of 4:43-4:47 left him just shy of his hope for around 9:25.
Danner was just 1.87 seconds from sixth teamwise and 8.42 seconds from the top five overall. Loud won (9:18.36) and LT sophomore Danny Kilrea was third overall (9:20.85).
“I can’t complain with being a second off my outdoor PR so I’m pleased with how I’m coming along,” Danner said. “(It’s) just dong the training and everything because I’ve got high goals for the 3,200 in outdoor.”
Saturday’s time was encouraging considering Danner ran part of the race with no one around him and he missed five training days in late January to recover from an iliotibial band (IT) injury after logging consistent 60-plus mileage weeks and tinkering with his running form.
“Mentally, I wasn’t really there before the race where I just had to keep telling myself that you are fit. You will be able to run this time. You’ve just got to believe in yourself,” Danner said. “When the race went out, I was feeling pretty good. I just had to keep pushing the pace.
“(My hip has) basically healed at this point. I only feel it rarely and it goes away. I’ve gone back to my normal form. I’m taking obviously extra precaution with the training so far. I haven’t been going as many miles. I think as my confidence grows, I can pump it up again.”
Downers Grove North finished 13th (10 points) on the sophomore level.
Sophomore Jacob Ridderhoff was second in the 1 mile run (4:40.44), just 1.08 second behind Neuqua Valley sophomore Ryan Kennedy’s winning 4:39.36.
The 3,200 relay team of Sam McCool, Matt Moravec, Ridderhoff and Nick Chudzik was sixth (8:54.49).
Ridderhoff was the No. 3 finisher (82nd place) for the state-qualifying boys cross country team and Moravec the Trojans’ No. 7 finisher (197th).