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North top Tri-Cities finisher at UEC track meet

ROSELLE – One St. Charles North runner called this season’s track team one of the best he’s ever been a part of. And though a fourth-place finish at the Upstate Eight Conference Boys Track and Field Meet on Thursday wasn’t the top prize, the North Stars were still happy with the results.

Lake Park, which hosted the meet at its East Campus, took the conference title. St. Charles North was the top finishing Tri-Cities school, as Batavia and Geneva tied for sixth and St. Charles East placed ninth out of 14 schools.

The North Stars finished first in four races: the 4x800 relay, the 4x200 relay, the 4x400 relay and the 400-meter dash.

Senior runner Zach Kirby was the winner in the 400-meter dash as he held off a late push from South Elgin’s Jeff Broger. After the race, Kirby spoke of the friendship he’s developed with Broger in the past couple years of going head-to-head with him.

“I knew coming in it was going to be a real tough race,” Kirby said. “Earlier this week we watched some film of my races. I was taking the first 200 way too fast and dying the last 50. So we practiced this week of slowing that first 200 down for about half a second and saving it for the last 50 and just blowing people away.

“I’ve raced these guys for four years. Me and Jeff are really close friends. ... Me and him have alternated winning races, beating each other. Every single time.”

So perhaps it was simply Kirby’s turn for a win.

His fellow North Stars had a different story to tell. Senior Connor Larson was heralded as a favorite to win the 100-meter dash, but he finished eighth. Redemption came, however, as he was part of two first-place finishing relay teams.

“We were kind of running it like it was our last race we had today,” he said after the 4x200 relay, the first of two relay wins for Larson, “because my leg’s been hurting me a lot for a while. So we all decided, ‘Let’s go all out right here, get a win, be a conference champ in one event.’”

Larson admitted the team wasn’t doing its best, and though he refused to blame the performance on the weather, it rained most of the meet, with showers turning heavy toward the end of the event.

Batavia junior runner Chris Orlow finished second in the 1,600-meter run, the Bulldogs’ best finish of the day, and he said the rain actually helped to cool him off during his race. Teammate David Morrison was with Orlow the whole race and finished fourth.

“I just went after it with my teammate and just tried to attack it and did what I could,” Orlow said. “That’s a personal record by like four seconds.”

Geneva also captured a first-place finish, as Tim Roels won the 200-meter dash.

The season’s not over yet as the teams turn their attention to sectionals next week.

St. Charles North wants to do more, and the North Stars want to do it for their coach.

“This is big for our team. This is the best team we’ve had in a long time,” Kirby said. “This is Coach [Don] Spencer’s last year here. ... We want to win it for him as much as we want to win it for us because he’s taught us everything in this sport and he’s just a special coach.”

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