Dukes speed to third place in 1,600 relay
|Dixon's Scott Goad takes off after receiving the baton from Zach Henkel during the 1,600 relay during the Class 2A finals in Charleston. Dixon finished third with a time of 3 minutes, 22.35 seconds. (Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukva ())|
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CHARLESTON – A relay race, when executed properly, can be a thing of beauty, and for the Dixon 1,600 foursome of Alex LaMendola, Jon Worley, Zach Henkel and Scott Goad, their final race together couldn’t have ended much better.
They broke their own school record and earned third-place medals in the process at the Class 2A boys state track and field meet finals on Saturday in O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.
Dixon pieced together a time of 3 minutes, 22.35 seconds, .29 ahead of their preliminary time posted on Friday. The finals time was behind just Cahokia (3:19.09) and Burlington Central (3:20.13).
“This weekend, we just gave it our all,” Goad said, “and it looks nice when we all put it together.”
LaMendola’s strategy leading off the race was to stay as close as possible to Cahokia’s Marlin Brady, and he finished about 10 meters behind, in third place.
“Coach told me if I catch up to him, don’t give up,” LaMendota said. “If they start pulling away, it doesn’t mean the race is over. Just keep going hard.”
Dixon’s second runner, Worley, held the Dukes’ position.
“I didn’t want to get passed,” Worley said, “and I at least wanted to keep third. I could feel the kids coming up behind me, but I wasn’t going to give up.”
Dixon’s third runner, Henkel, again held strong in third place, and reached the anchor runner, Goad, at virtually the same time as a Chicago Brooks athlete. While the Henkel-to-Goad exchange was seamless, the Brooks exchange was clunky, allowing Goad a precious instant to take a lead.
“Me and Scott, we know each other so well and we always have perfect exchanges,” Henkel said. “It comes so naturally to pass the baton to him.”
On the backstretch, the Brooks runner, Daniel Medrano, made a move to pass Goad, but he quickly closed off that avenue.
“I kind of left it open for him on the backstretch – I was running on the outside of Lane 1,” Goad said. “I felt him inside and saw his one foot, so I took one hard step and cut in all the way to the rail. I had him ride me the whole turn, then I felt him again right out of the turn.
“From somewhere I just found it and brought it home.”
Goad also competed in the high jump and placed seventh. He cleared 6 feet, 4 inches, then went out at 6-5.
Jon Shippert qualified for the 2A discus finals, but was unable to improve on his preliminary-round throw of 152-11. The cutoff for a medal was 157-4, achieved by Geneseo sophomore A.J. Marmion.
Also for Dixon, Skyler Mitchell competed in the 3,200 and finished with a time of 10:03.24, good for 21st place.
Leading the way for Sterling was senior Michael Schneiderbauer, who claimed fifth in the 110-meter hurdles.
His time was 14.78, slightly above the Sterling school record of 14.74 shared by Tyler Gaumer, currently the SHS girls coach, and Sterling legend DuWayne Dietz.
“I was gunning for top five and I made it, so I’m pretty happy with that ... 14:78,” Schneiderbauer thought aloud. “I really wanted to get just under 14.74 and get the school record, but a medal at state feels just as good.”
Mount Vernon’s Spencer Allen won the race in 13.97, and he was followed by a closely-bunched pack of runners that included Schneiderbauer. He finished .09 behind the second-place runner, Dion Starnes of Midlothian Bremen.
“I caught one hurdle with my heel and that really slowed me down,” Schneiderbauer said, “but other than that I had a pretty clean race. I feel really good about it.”
The Golden Warriors also received a solid performance from its 3,200 relay team of Dylan Harkness, Aaron Brenner, Patrick Petrosky and Alejandro Rivera. They finished seventh with a time of 8:02.52, one day after squeaking into the finals as the 12th and final qualifier.
“Qualifying last kind of made us feel like an underdog,” Petrosky said, “so we wanted to come out and prove ourselves today. We did that.”
“Our goal all season was to be all-state,” Brenner said. “We wanted to try and redeem ourselves from [Friday]. We got in, and once we got in, we were able to make something of it.”
Rivera closed with a 1:58 split and passed three runners in the last 75 meters to take Sterling outside of medal range to seventh.
“My running style is to just stick with the pack, then try to pass them at the end,” Rivera said. “I rely on my kick quite a bit. That’s kind of my signature move in a race. I knew once I got in the last 100 and guys were right there, I’d be able to pass them in the end.”
Harkness also competed in the 1,600, but didn’t have his “A” game after exerting a lot of energy in the 3,200 relay. He faded at the end to a time of 4:30.39, 11th among 12 finalists.
Class 2A medalists
• Dixon 1,600 relay (third)
• M.Schneiderbauer (Sterling), 110 HH (fifth)
• Scott Goad, Dixon, HJ (seventh)
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