BATAVIA – With three events left in Saturday's Upstate Eight Conference Boys Indoor Track Meet, Bartlett was 6 1/2 points ahead of St. Charles North and minutes from its best finish in school history.
Coming into the meet, Hawks coach Eric Kramer said the team's goal was to finish better than fourth, which is the highest any Bartlett team has finished in an indoor or outdoor meet. The Hawks secured third place overall after a third place finish in the 4x400 meter relay.
The Bartlett relay team won its heat with a time of 3:34.56, which is a school record. The team ultimately finished behind Neuqua Valley and St. Charles North with times of 3:32.10 and 3:32.43, respectively.
Heading into the final race, Kramer made sure his runners knew what was on the line.
“Coaches always try to find a little extra motivation and throw it their way … we have experienced runners, they understand what that last relay was about. It’s one of the most exciting races that you can watch at a track meet,” Kramer said.
St. Charles North finished fourth overall with 66 1/2 points, the top finish among the the Tri-Cities contingent.
The North Stars finished with six top-3 finishes including first place finishes in the 400-meter dash by Zach Kirby and the 4x200 meter relay team. Sprinter Jack Feeney was one of the top point scorers for the North Stars; Feeney placed third in the 200-meter dash and was a member of the 4x200 and 4x400-meter relay teams.
Feeney was visible drained after his last run and said he was adjusting to an increased workload after mainly focusing on the 4x400 relay. Feeney credited his focus prior to the meet in allowing him to have the energy to compete at a high level in multiple events.
Batavia (sixth place), Geneva (seventh place) and St. Charles East also competed. East finished in an eighth-place tie with South Elgin.
Overall, Bartlett captured eight top-3 finishes, including first place finishes in the 800-meter run and 55-meter hurdles by Connor Rachford and Alex Bailey, respectively.
Bailey said his work on technique in practice allowed him to take the 55-meter indoor title.
“I felt really good coming into this meet – me and my coaches worked a lot on dragging my trail leg through [the jump] so it could drop my time,” Bailey said. “My preliminary time … I wasn’t too happy with that, but I went back and talked to my coaches. We got to the basics and got some of the little things to help me for my next run.”
Overall, defending state champions Lake Park finished in first place with 137.5 points and captured the Upstate Eight Indoor Conference Championship. The Lancers topped last year’s indoor champions Nequa Valley by 22 1/2 points as the Wildcats finished second overall.
As Bartlett prepares for outdoor season, Kramer said this finish should give his athletes confidence to keeping growing as a team.
“We’re seeing a lot of the teams that we see at our sectional here, so it’s a good measure of where we’re at, at the halfway point of the season,” Kramer said. “Anytime you can get these kids more confident, boosting their self-esteem, it’s just going to make them work harder and having the success we did today bodes real well for us heading into outdoor [season]."