BATAVIA – Depending on which way the athletes were running at Saturday’s Les Hodge Meet at Batavia, the howling winds were either a blessing or a curse.
But regardless of whether the wind was in the face or at the back of the runners, St. Charles North seemed to routinely come out on top.
Five schools participated in Saturday’s meet: host Batavia, St. Charles North, Geneva, Burlington Central and East Aurora. But it was the North Stars dominating the leaderboard, capturing victories in the majority of the events.
And speaking of dominating the leaderboard, the names of several North Stars kept popping up again and again. Senior Grant Loess won the long jump, the triple jump and the 200-meter dash. Senior Connor Larson won the 100-meter dash (10.72 seconds) and was a member of the winning St. Charles North teams in the 4x200 meter relay and the 4x400 meter relay. And sophomore Chris Suda started his day pulling out a win for the North Stars’ 4x800 meter relay team and added a solo victory in the 800 meter race later in the day.
St. Charles North also emerged victorious in the high jump, the 400 meter dash and the 4x100 meter relay.
The North Stars’ pile of wins was impressive, as they had to race not only against the other athletes but sometimes against the wind, as well. Pole vault was moved indoors, and the track was flipped for the shorter races, including the 100 meter dash, allowing the runners to have the wind at their backs.
Larson agreed it was a positive influence.
“I don’t know exactly what the wind speed is, but I think it’s helping everyone get their times up,” Larson said following his 100 meter dash win. “I ran a pretty good time. It’s the best time I’ve ever had. I’m sure it will go down as the wind goes down later on, but hopefully I’ll reach that time again.”
Loess jumped with the wind at his back, and the gusts were on his side in his 200 meter race, as well. But he said that it was tough dealing with the wind during the relay.
“It’s a windy day outside, so you get better jumps in the wind. I felt good,” said Loess, whose 22.31 second time in the 200 was just ahead of teammate Josh Phelan (22.75). “And in that 4x200, I just tried my hardest to keep my head down against this wind because it was killer out there.”
Though North stole the spotlight, it didn’t win all the events. Batavia junior Chris Orlow won the 3,200 meter race and Sebastian Vermaas grabbed victories in both the shot put and the discus throw.
Burlington Central’s Lucas Ege won both hurdle events, the 110 meter and the 300 meter. Geneva senior Nathan Wendt took first place in the 1,600 meter race.
“It was definitely rough,” Wendt said of the running conditions. “The wind is like crazy. Coming into that [last] 100 meters, just ‘Whoosh!’ ... I felt really good. It’s my first time running the mile this year, so I thought I did pretty well, and I hope to do better the next meet.”