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Prep Track Insider: Saints 4x400 keeps shining

St. Charles East’s Jordan Shead (center) helped the 4x400-meter relay team win a state title at the Illinois Prep Top Times meet late last month. Shead, Elizabeth Chmelik, Allison Chmelik and Britney Williams finished in 3:57.75.
St. Charles East’s Jordan Shead (center) helped the 4x400-meter relay team win a state title at the Illinois Prep Top Times meet late last month. Shead, Elizabeth Chmelik, Allison Chmelik and Britney Williams finished in 3:57.75.

St. Charles East captured the 3A girls 4x400 meter relay title at the Illinois Prep Top Times meet in downstate Bloomington late last month using the speedy quartet of Elizabeth Chmelik, Jordan Shead, Allison Chmelik and Britney Williams.

That group finished in 3:57.75, almost 10 seconds faster than in mid-March, when Elizabeth Chmelik, Kimberly Abels, Monika Stoskute and Allison Chmelik won the Upstate Eight Conference indoor title to help East take the UEC team crown.

The Saints' stable of sprinters is among the team's many strenghts, and leaves East encouraged as outdoor season begins.

"At indoor conference when we won overall, we just realized we had a lot of depth on the team and that we were going to be pretty good this year," Shead said. "We just go to practice and work hard every day and we wait until after the meet to celebrate. Then we just get back to working hard."

Kaneland vault competition ratchets up
The Kaneland boys program has advanced at least one pole vaulter to the state meet in each of the past 30 seasons.

While extending the streak to 31 naturally enters into the Knights' minds, those thoughts can just as easily be tabled.

"It's definitely something to be proud of, but that's not the huge focus every year," said senior Kory Harner, a two-time returning state qualifier. "The huge focus is placing at state, helping the team, just doing the best you can every day to get better. When you work hard, those things just kind of happen."

Harner appreciates the competition, and knows he'll receive his share from fellow Knights such as Dylan Kuipers and J.R. Vest.

"It's like a meet during practice," Harner said.

To pole vault coach Andy Drendel, a 2005 Kaneland graduate, the biggest suspense comes in the Knights' real competitions.

Drendel is all but certain his top mark of 12 feet, 6 inches will be wiped from the Knights' top 50 all-time vaults list this spring.

"It's kind of cool that I'm going to coach myself off the list," Drendel said, "because it was such a big deal for me to get on there in high school. … The kids are all jacked up about knocking me off there, which is fine with me. I don't want to be on there anymore. they should be on there."

Kaneland boasts three state champions during its state meet run, as well as a trio each of runners-up and third-place finishers. The Knights' streak is believed to be the second longest in the state, trailing only Ottawa's 1960-95 run.


Luke Juriga
Marmion, So., throws
What he did:
Juriga won the shot put (41 feet, 6 inches) and discus (122-3) on Tuesday as the Cadets won a home triangular.

Wheaton Academy freshmen
What happened:
Newcomers Jacob Robleski (11:13) and Mitchell Smith (11:16) finished second and third, respectively, in the 3,200 at the Marmion quad.

Spring break came at a good time. While teams still held workouts during the week off, many were abbreviated, which certainly helped as athletes recharged their batteries for the transition from indoor season to outdoors.

How things look outside. A handful of outdoor invitationals are scheduled this weekend after midweek meets were held to kick off the outdoor season. Batavia, St. Charles East and Aurora Central Catholic will hosts boys invitationals Saturday. The St. Charles North and Kaneland girls play hosts, as well, along with ACC.

Bring on the great outdoors.

After a long stretch of indoor training and competition that started in late 2012 for most programs, athletes are eager to reach the point they've been training for.

There are a handful of meets behind held around Chronicle Country on Saturday, so see to finding your way to one if you've got the itch.

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