Goad leads way in Dixon’s NIB-12 title
DEKALB – Going into the final event Friday night at the Northern Illinois Big 12 boys track meet, the Dixon Dukes knew exactly what they had to do to win the title.
Courtesy of assistant coach Kel Bond’s mental mathematics, the Dukes needed only to finish fourth or better in the 1,600 relay to take the championship plaque back to Dixon.
As the race unfolded, the Dukes were neck-and-neck with Rochelle in fourth place. Then, anchor runner Alex LaMendola turned on the jets and pulled away, and cruised across the finish line by a comfortable margin.
Thanks to that finish – and meet standout Scott Goad – the Dukes scored 98 points to beat Kaneland by one. Sterling was third with 78 points.
“On the bus ride up here, we told the kids all we wanted to do was win,” Dixon coach Bruce Luther. “This was a team thing, and we had a lot of kids step into some newer roles and step up for us. They did a heck of a job, they did Dixon proud, and I’m so happy and proud right now.”
Goad shone the brightest. With the personal goal of scoring 40 points by himself, he accomplished that by winning the high jump (6 feet, 5 inches), long jump (21-7 3/4), 400 (49.80 seconds) and 200 (22.58).
The final win was a photo finish. He caught up to Kaneland’s Sean Carter just meters from the finish line, then leaned across the finish line with his upper body as Carter crossed straight up and down to win by .01 seconds.
“Honestly, I thought I got second,” Goad said after catching his breath. “Then they looked at the video and said I’d won with the lean, and I couldn’t believe it.
“I wanted to make up the ground on [Carter] on the curve, but he was better out of the blocks and was three steps out in front of me starting the straightaway. I knew I just had to chase him down, and I was able to nose him out.”
Goad provided nearly half of his team’s points with a singularly spectacular effort. He won the high jump and long jump right at the start of the meet – while also qualifying for the 200 finals – then had to wait for a couple of hours before his races came around.
“I told the coaches I was going to get 40 points, and I was going to leave everything on the track to do it,” he said. “Then, to be able to finally beat Kaneland for the team title … we knew we had a chance, and we took our best shot – and got it done.”
Dixon’s other win came from Jon Shippert in the shot put. Displeased after taking second by a full foot in the discus (147-6), the senior took it out in the shot. He had the longest throw heading into the finals, then popped off a 52-11 – a personal best by more than a foot (51-9) – on his final throw of the finals.
As the shot landed, Shippert let out a yell and longtime Dixon throws coach Rich Lawton leaped into the air, pumped his fist, grabbed Shippert in a bear hug, then had to wipe away tears of joy from his eyes.
“I was disappointed in the discus, but that converted over to anger really quickly,” Shippert said, “and anger really can help you in the shot out. I wanted to come in and compete, make up for the discus, and I just put everything together. Coach Lawton told me to have fun on my final throw, so I relaxed and popped a big one.”
But even with those two scoring 58 of Dixon’s 98 points, it was depth that won it for the Dukes. John Worley added a pair of second places (100, long jump) and a third (200), and J.D. Gieson matched the 1,600 relay with a fourth-place in the 300 hurdles.
“Scott was a really big asset for us, and not only because he scored so many points,” Worley said. “Guys like him and Shippert, they push the rest of us to do better than maybe we thought we could. It means a lot to perform the way we did as a team tonight, and hopefully this changes the way people see Dixon track.”
Sterling was in a tight race with Dixon and Kaneland up until the final couple of events. The Golden Warriors’ big-points guy was Michael Schneiderbauer, who won the pole vault (14-9) and 110 hurdles (15.71), took second in the 300 hurdles and finished fifth in the triple jump.
“The coaches told me they were relying on me tonight, and that kept me going through the meet,” Schneiderbauer said. “I was pysched, and I knew I had to step it up. I wasn’t going to accept anything less than my best performances, and I can’t complain. All-conference in all four events … I definitely ended my conference career on a good note.”
Sterling’s other win came from Dylan Harkness in the 800 (1:59.11), but it cost him in the 1,600, where he placed eighth. The Warriors also got a runner-up finish from the team of Harkness, Alejandro Rivera, Patrick Petrosky and Aaron Brenner in the 3,200 relay.
“That’s a tough triple for me, the first time I’ve tried it, and I’m happy with it,” Harkness said. “The coaches told me to go for it in the 800, not worry about the mile, and I can’t believe I won it the first time I’ve ever run it in a big meet like this. I like being the underdog, and I pushed hard down the final stretch and squeezed out the win.”
But it was the Dukes taking the victory lap around DeKalb’s brand new track, NIB-12 championship plaque in hand. As the team posed for photos, Luther made sure the first one was something Dixon would be proud of to see in the school’s trophy case for years to come.
“All the credit to the kids; all I do as a coach is holler and congratulate,” he said. “These guys all did a lot of hard work, and did exactly what we asked of them. This was an outstanding team effort, and with the rumor going around that Coach Lawton will retire after the season, this is a great way to send him out.”
Boys track & field
Northern Illinois Big 12 Meet
Top 3 teams
1. Dixon 98
2. Kaneland 97
3. Sterling 78
Star of the meet: Scott Goad, Dixon, won high jump, long jump, 400, 200
Up next: Class 2A Rochelle Sectional, Thursday