Batavia senior Omar Medina keeps hovering around the 3A boys track and field state qualifying standard for the 300-meter hurdles.
He set his tunnel vision on 39.84 seconds a long time ago. Now he yearns to match or eclipse it.
Medina carries a season personal record of 42.7 – he ran 41.8 last spring – into Friday’s Hoffman Estates Sectional, which, for all intents and purposes, is the only time when going under qualifying time counts.
“I can already feel that I’m better than where I was at last year,” Medina said. “I just feel like I need to pick up the pace even more, because I know if I can do that – cut down my time by, like, two seconds – I can make it downstate this year. That’s what I’m shooting for.”
Medina took up track in eighth grade and immediately embraced it.
“It was more fun, if anything, and then that’s kind of what got me into doing it in high school,” he said.
He began as a long jumper as a freshman before shifting to track events, where he quickly took a shine to veteran hurdles coach Mike DiDomenico.
That’s “Coach D” to anyone who’s sported a crimson and gold singlet and shorts in recent memory.
“He’s the guy who pushes me,” Medina said. “The one who really sees something in me, and I’m trying my best to perform as well as the hurdlers we’ve had in the past few years, like Rob Mohr and David Voland, those superstars.”
Before a recent practice, Batavia head coach Dennis Piron introduced Medina as a “superstar,” too.
That’s one reason Medina hopes to return to his alma mater as a volunteer coach next season, when he plans to attend Waubonsee Community College.
Whether it’s a Princeton recruit such as Mohr or someone entering the stretch run of his track career, Piron aims to get everyone fired up.
“He makes it a lot of fun to come to practice every day because, I mean, he’s not your usual coach,” junior sprinter Rourke Mullins said. “He jokes around with you, but he’s also serious when he needs to be serious. He makes us work hard, and then he can also joke around with us and have a lot of fun.”
Good Knights: Kaneland enters Friday’s 2A Sterling Sectional on the heels of a comfortable win in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Meet.
Competing at Dixon, whose Dukes edged the Knights by one point at conference in 2012, the Knights created a sizable lead on runner-up DeKalb and the rest of the field.
Highlights included thrower Nate Dyer, who won the shot put and was third in the discus.
“We’re pleased with the victory,” said Knights coach Eric Baron, whose team edged St. Charles North for the Kane County title earlier this month. “We know that we can hit even better than that. but it’s a good steep in the right direction once things got rolling.”
• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.