ELGIN – The Upstate Eight Conference boys track and field meet, while important, is more of a stepping-stone for next week's IHSA sectionals. Most of the UEC teams will be right back at Memorial Field for the Elgin sectional, so the individual battles Thursday night might be a precursor of things to come next week.
Batavia ended up winning the UEC River title on the strength of both its sprinters and distance runners.
Despite the relative light-hearted approach to the meet, the Tri-Cities schools still had a great meet, with individuals posting near-record times to help set up what should be a great sectional meet next week.
Rivals Batavia and Geneva led the way in the River Division, distancing themselves from the rest of the field early in the meet. Final results were not available at press time.
The Vikings got off to a roaring start, taking third in the 4X800-meter relay before Tim Roels posted 10.91 seconds to win the 100-meter dash.
Roels, who also competed in the 400 and the 200, recently returned from a hamstring injury and is finally returning to form.
“I’m really happy with how things went. The 100, that was a PR right there for me by a tenth of a second,” Roels said. “I tore my hamstring the first week of outdoors, so I wasn’t really hitting the times I was hitting last year. That’s the best that I’ve run so I’m feeling great.”
Meanwhile, Batavia’s good fortune was spread out amongst its athletes, with wins from Ryan Wieties in the 800, Peyton Piron in the 300 hurdles and Chris Orlow in the 1,600.
Wieties beat Neuqua Valley’s Ty Moss at the line, nudging ahead at the last second before falling face-first onto the track, scratching and cutting his face.
“It was kind of crazy, Moss made a move and I was kind of hanging and I saw a little bit of a slow up with about 100 meters left so I relied on myself and put in that effort,” Wieties said. “I had something left there in the end. I just wanted to win. We had to get points tonight and coach told me to win the race.”
Batavia coach Dennis Piron was happy about his team's performance along with his son, who won the 300 hurdles with a personal-best 39.87.
“I love coaching but coaching your kid is a whole different deal,” Piron said. “I’m just proud of him. I know how hard he trains and how much he cares. He’s a good teammate and I’m just happy he put a really good race together.”
St. Charles North was right behind both Batavia and Geneva and got off to a roaring start in the meet, taking the 4X800 in 8:02.41. Jack Feeney, Steve Lewandowski, Chris Suda and Nathan Klair spearheaded the relay that bested their preliminary qualifying time by almost 15 seconds.
“The best thing of the night for us was our 4X8 that ran an 8:02 and that sets us up pretty well for sectionals,” North coach Kevin Harrington said. “Everyone is ready to run faster. That was the one thing we needed out here was to make sure we knew how to do it and we showed we could do it.”