CHARLESTON – Teachers and coaches generally shun the word “idiot” in favor of anything less abrasive, but Kaneland’s Eric Baron was away from the classroom and opted for a lighthearted use.
The Knights just clinched their fourth straight boys track and field sectional title when Baron leaned toward one of his athletes mugging for a team photo.
“You know,” he grinned at senior sprinter Sean Carter, “you were an idiot for two years for not coming out.”
Carter agreed he was foolish, admitting he overestimated the sport’s possible time crunch on his pursuit of a college football career.
On Saturday, about 10 days later, he earned three medals at the Class 2A state finals, then laughed to himself about his initial perception of track and field.
“I didn’t really get into it. I thought it was kind of stupid, just running,” Carter said. “But after my first couple practices, I realized, you know, I’m pretty good at it. It’s fun, it’s competitive, everything I love in a sport. I wish I could go back and get two more years, but I can’t do that. But, this is still pretty good.”
There’s a chance Saturday’s successes weren’t Carter’s last at O’Brien Stadium. Along with a football career at Wisconsin-Whitewater, he also is exploring the possibility of running track at Eastern Illinois, corresponding with coaches at both schools.
Carter dabbled in track in grade school, and credits the persistence of younger brother Kyle for swaying him. Kyle Carter, a sophomore, competed in the sport since a young age, and anchored the Knights’ ninth-place 4x800-meter relay Saturday.
Sean Carter ran the anchor leg for the 4x100 (sixth) and 4x200 (third) while finishing seventh individually in the 200.
“This is his second year of track,” said Kaneland junior Brandon Cottier, who joined Brandon Bishop and Carter in the 4x100 and 4x200. “This could have been his fourth year. He’s that amazing, qualifying for the finals in all of his events. He’s an amazing athlete.”
Geneva senior Ben Rogers received similar plaudits after closing his jumping career with personal bests in the Class 3A triple jump (fourth, 46-9) and long jump (sixth, 22-10).
Just like Carter, he came to track as a junior. Unlike Carter, he already committed in football, signing with Cornell well before the track season started.
“I never in a million years imagined I was going to be down here stepping on the podium getting a medal for this,” Rogers said. “I don’t really know what happened, but I feel very blessed.”
Joking that he could engage friends in some sidewalk triple-jumping on campus, Rogers was more serious about track’s impact on his explosiveness and endurance at wide receiver.
“Track speed is a whole lot different than football speed, and I realized that the hard way last season,” he said. “I stepped on the track thinking, ‘I’m decently fast. Let’s see what happens.’ And there I was, lagging behind. The workouts and stuff, it definitely helps that you can go toe-to-toe with these phenomenal athletes. It was really good and helped a lot down the stretch.”
Vikings lacrosse still alive: Lacrosse – another spring sport that often houses its share of football athletes – is thriving on the Geneva campus, that ongoing renovation project to Burgess Field notwithstanding.
The Vikings are set to host O’Fallon at 5:30 p.m. today on the Center Street Fields in an IHSLA B-Class state quarterfinal. Geneva thumped its first two playoff opponents, Mount Carmel (15-2) and Marian Catholic (13-4).
Midfielder/attackman Matt Landry, a first-team all-Upstate Eight Conference selection, paced the team this spring along with second-team all-conference defenders Austin Nobregas and Ryan Deisz.
Geneva also boasted honorable mention all-UEC honorees in attackman Andrew Schreiber, goalie Steve Laduzinsky and long-stick midfielder Austin Schippers. The winner of today’s game faces the Lake Zurich-York winner in a Thursday semifinal.
• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.