MAPLE PARK – Since finishing second to Kaneland at the indoor conference meet back in March, the Dixon boys track team has yearned to pay back the Knights outdoors.
Unfortunately for the Dukes, the results were much the same on Saturday. The Knights built up a lead in the field events, then made it stand up on the track at the Northern Illinois Big 12 meet.
The meet was pushed back a day due to inclement weather on Friday.
Kaneland finished with 146 points, well ahead of the runner-up Dukes, who had 92. DeKalb (78), Sycamore (67) and Geneseo (57.5) rounded out the top five in a 10-team field.
In the indoor meet, held March 22 at Westwood, Kaneland took first with 103 points, and Dixon was second with 68. The Dukes had hoped to improve to the point where they could hang with the Knights, and intended to put that on display Saturday at the Kaneland facility.
While Dixon has no doubt improved a great deal over the course of the season, so has Kaneland, and the gap between the teams was clear.
"We thought there was a bigger chance than what there actually was," junior sprinter/jumper JD Gieson said of potentially winning the meet. "A lot of guys had good performances today, but some didn't perform up to par or improve at all. If we re-did it, I think we'd get closer, but when Kaneland scores 42 points in the shot put, discus and pole vault, that's a lot we have to make up on the track."
The lone champ for the Dukes was Simon Thorpe, who took the 3,200 with a time of 9 minutes, 33.27 seconds. It was more than 3 seconds ahead of DeKalb's Misha Ryzhov, who took second in 9:36.41.
Yorkville distance aces Luke and Jake Hoffert sat out the 3,200 to save themselves for the 1,600. They dueled the whole way, with Luke winning in 4:19.57, and Jake taking second in 4:19.83.
Thorpe placed fourth in 4:30.54, as he was passed by Ryzhov (4:29.05) down the stretch.
The Dukes put together four runner-up finishes, led by the 800 turned in by Kylian Lally. He finished with a time of 1:56.51, second only to Kaneland's Kyle Carter, who won in 1:55.55.
"I don't want to say it's good to lose," Lally said, "but it gives me something to work for, and it helps me want to prepare to get faster, and get ready for next week."
Lally and Carter will likely duel again Friday at the Class 2A Burlington Central Sectional.
Gieson finished second in the long jump with a distance of 21 feet, 11 inches. Kaneland's Ben Barnes took first with a 22-7 leap.
Quinton Douglas placed second in the triple jump, as he pieced together a distance of 41-11. He was nosed out by Sterling's Jacob Kirchhoff, who went 42-3 1/4.
The Dukes' 3,200 relay team of Evan Grady, Alex LaMendola, Chance Fisher and Lally placed second in 8:17.91, well behind Kaneland, which won in 8:04.15.
Third-place finishers included Gieson in the 110 high hurdles (15.36) and Reid Deets in the 200 (22.77). The Dukes were also third in the 800 (1:34.02) and 1,600 (3:35.66) relays.
Sterling and LaSalle-Peru tied for seventh in the team standings with 29 points. Leading the way for the Golden Warriors was Kirchhoff with a win in the triple jump.
His winning effort was on the last of three preliminary round attempts.
"It got the job done today," Kirchhoff said. "I knew I had to get above 42, because nobody was getting 42s. I had to push it out, and it got me into the finals, and it got me first in the end."
Kirchhoff has a season best of 42-11. He hopes to be at that number, or better, when the sectional at Burlington comes around Friday. The 2A qualifying standard is 43-10.
"I'm close to it in practices all the time," Kirchhoff said, "but I've got to get a little more consistent on the board. I'm always a little bit behind, but if I get on it more, that's a solid six inches."
The only other Sterling athlete in the top three was Jonathon Landis, who took third in the 3,200 with a time of 9:46.67. It was a personal best by more than 8 seconds.
"I know [Dixon's Simon] Thorpe can run a faster time than me," Landis said, "so if I can just stay with him for at least half the race, I know I'm doing good."
The 2A state qualifying standard is 9:49.24, so it marked the first time Landis has bettered that mark. He also ran a 4:46.45 in the 1,600, good for 11th place, but well off the qualifying mark of 4:30.44.
"I want to make it in the mile or the 2-mile," Landis said, "and the 2-mile is my better event."
Sterling's 3,200 relay team of Logan Cheshire, Ethan Rocha, Cody Hansen and Cody Lund placed fourth with a season-best time of 8:22.36. The group's previous best was 8:24.
Also taking fourth were Draque Penaflor-Heier in the 400 (52.59), and the 800 relay foursome of Terrance Bruce, Dale Mikan, Kirchhoff and Andrew Spaulding (1:36.14).
Top 3 teams
1. Kaneland 146
2. Dixon 92
3. DeKalb 78