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Druley: Indoor conference meets give glimpse of track season

Published: Monday, March 24, 2014 10:29 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, March 24, 2014 10:37 p.m. CDT
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(Philip Marruffo – pmarruffo@shawmedia.com)
Kaneland's Dylan Nauert (left) and Dixon's JD Gieson (middle) and Sycamore's Edgar Garcia compete in the 60-meter hurdles Saturday at the Northern Illinois Big 12 Indoor Conference Meet in Sterling. Nauert was second in the event, while Gieson wo the event. The Kaneland boys track team won the meet.

Track and field athletes definitely are primed to take it outside in April, but various indoor conference meets over the weekend proved the outdoors aren’t the only thing that has to be great.

Here’s a look at some highlights from girls and boys conference competitions in the Upstate Eight and Northern Illinois Big 12. The indoor season ends with the Illinois Prep Top Times meet at Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington on Friday and Saturday.

Kaneland rolls: The Kaneland boys and girls swept the Northern Illinois Big 12 titles at Sterling’s Westwood Sports Complex on Saturday.

“We like where we’re at considering we haven’t gotten a lot of work outside yet due to our lack of facilities,” Knights boys coach Eric Baron said.

“A lot of this is off of strength and speed right now.”

For the boys, Nate Dyer’s sizable personal record to win the discus (55 feet, 5 inches) provided the turning point that helped Kaneland place in all but two events.

“Kind of got the ball rolling for us really early,” Baron said.

Remember the name: Entering the final championship heat of the 200 at Saturday’s UEC girls meet, public address announcer Skip Stolley reminded the crowd of the field’s prowess.

Five of the six entrants were state qualifiers, and the only one excluded from the club wasn’t eligible; Batavia freshman Hannah Schlaman still was an eighth-grader last spring.

Schlaman finished fifth in a tightly contested race that reflected athletes’ camaraderie.

“She ran against a lot of them over the summer last year, so she knows them,” Bulldogs coach Justin Allison said. “This is a very friendly, competitive rivalry with them. She’s very excited.”

That’ll work for now: While St. Charles East finished in the second half of the team standings in Friday’s 14-team UEC boys meet, the Saints still were beaming about plenty of performances.

“Where’d this speed come out of all of us?” senior Mike Skora said after helping the Saints to a second-place finish in the 4x800-meter relay in 8:24.82.

The meet offered a barometer, and challenging eventual UEC champion Neuqua Valley in that race encouraged the Saints about moving up come outdoor season.

“We were just out there to compete today. That’s it. We were trying to just get past people and hold that position,” Skora said. “That was our goal. Our goal was to compete, not time at all, and we did that.”

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

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