MAPLE PARK – Luis Acosta perked his ears and grinned at the announcement that he and three Kaneland boys track teammates had collaborated on the fastest 4x800-meter relay time in Illinois this spring.
Covering the race in 7:50.27 not only garnered a state superlative, but also gave Andrew Lesak, Acosta, Kyle Carter and Nathaniel Kucera the meet record in the host Knights' Peterson Prep Invitational.
Ultimate satisfaction, however, projects as a prize to be gained later, even as the quartet competed together for the first time this season Saturday.
"That's an amazing time, and I feel we could have gone even faster," Acosta said.
For the moment, Kucera kept a more level head.
"Can't complain," he said.
The victory was one of six overall for the Knights, who honored the front of their Nike hoodies ("KANELAND NEVER STOPS") and weeklong Twitter hashtag (#DefendPete) to comfortably take the 17-team invite with 140 points.
Runner-up DeKalb followed with 66 points. Batavia (61, fourth); Geneva (44, fifth) and Wheaton Academy (tied for 13th, 10) also competed.
With the Kane County meet looming in two weeks and the Class 2A state series on tap shortly thereafter, there's no doubt the Knights' morale is riding high, even if that's not always on outward display.
"Yeah, it's really unspoken," said senior hurdles double-winner Brock Robertson. "We usually don't say too much about the meets, we just work hard throughout practice and things come through to meet day."
Batavia closed the meet by edging Kaneland in the 4x400, with Bulldogs' anchor David Curnock withstanding Kucera's late charge.
Blake Crowder, Peyton Piron and Jorden Berendt built a nice cushion, helping Batavia finish in 3:27.06. The result certainly energized the ride home.
"Going in with a good attitude, you've got that "We can do this, we can win" [mentality]," Crowder said. "That really pumps us up, and we just like to go and compete."
Batavia's Mark Majka (6 feet, 4 inches) and Mark Rudelich (6-3) finished second and third in the high jump.
Geneva's highlights included Blaine Bartel's runner-up finish in the 3,200 (9:54.66) and third-place efforts from Sam Urben in the 800 (2:02.29) and Tim Roels in the 100.
Nursing a tender right upper hamstring, Roels finished in 11.39, just .22 seconds off the pace of winner Dion Hooker of Sycamore.
"You don't really feel it too much in the race because you kind of feel adrenaline," Roels said.
Kaneland can attest to that last part, as the team displayed great depth. Nate Dyer captured both throwing events – 52-8 in the shot put, 162-9.5 in the discus – while Robertson, an emerging senior, also doubled up.
Smooth starts propelled Robertson to victories in the 110 hurdles (15.75) and 300 hurdles (40.3). Ben Barnes was the long jump winner with an effort of 22-1.5, while Dylan Kuipers (14-0) and Dan Evers (13-0) went 1-2 in the pole vault.
Shortly after the meet, another hashtag sprouted online: #PeteWasDefended.
"It's an amazing feeling," Acosta said, "especially doing great on our own track that we train on every day."