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Distance runner adjusting well from pool to track

Gebhardt’s good start

STERLING – The high school swimming season hurt Jacob Gebhardt’s chances at getting good winter runs in before Sterling’s track season. 

But the actual swimming part didn’t.

Gebhardt missed the first 2 weeks of track practice due to swimming in the 200 medley relay in the sectional meet. The transition from one season to another was a big question mark for the Sterling senior, but at Saturday’s Northern
Illinois Big 12 Indoor Conference Meet, he came away as the conference champion in the 3,200 run with a time of
9 minutes, 42.89 seconds.

Gebhardt was one of two Golden Warriors to claim a conference title, along with Nyrel Sullivan in the long jump.

“Swimming helps me get off my feet,” Gebhardt said. “Not have to be pounding the whole winter, and just able to stay in shape without having to run in the winter.

“I tried to run every day after swimming. I couldn’t get it done every day, and I was kind of worried about how this was going to be. I was really happy with how I ran the first week.”

Gebhardt led the 3,200 wire-to-wire, building a 2-second lead after the first lap. He started to lap runners about halfway through his run, and lapped teammate Mikio Martinez just past the 7-minute mark. 

He was hoping that his closest conference rival, Kaneland’s Matt Richtman, was also running in that race, but that didn’t happen. 

“Coach was trying to tell me to go out about 4:40-ish, and I’ve been hitting about 4:30 the whole indoor season,” Gebhardt said. “I figured why not try to go out that fast and hold it, and that’s exactly what I did. I was happy with that, but it got tough the second mile.”

Sullivan, a junior competing in his first NIB-12 meet after running for Dixon the past 2 years, took the long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 3 3/4 inches. That was his first event out of three. 

“I didn’t jump as good as I wanted to jump today,” Sullivan said. “I wanted to get in the 23s today. I’m looking forward to next week at Top Times [indoor state meet].”

Sullivan followed up his victory with a runner-up finish in the 60-meter dash in 7.15, finishing behind DeKalb’s Tristan Bujarski. Because he hadn’t run the 200 yet in the indoor season, Sullivan raced in the first heat along with two other runners, and finished fourth overall in 23.89.

“I stumbled at the start, and kind of had to play catch-up throughout the race,” Sullivan said of his race in the 60. “Eventually I worked my way up, but it didn’t go the way I wanted it to go.”

Sterling also had runner-up finishes from Reid Blackburn in the high jump (6-0) and Myles Williams in the triple jump (41-10). The Golden Warriors also had top-five finishes in the 800 relay (4th, 1:37.63), 1,600 relay (5th, 3:46.03), and from Bryce Tessman – also competing in his first NIB-12 conference meet – in the 800 (2:05.95). 

Golden Warriors coach Dave Campbell was pleased with his team’s performances, noting that many competitors finished where they left off and maxed at last year. 

“We ran well throughout the entire meet,” Campbell said. “Overall as a team, we were scoring points, and we were scoring points where I didn’t think we would score a lot. That really kind of helps our your standings overall.”

DeKalb won the meet with 86 points, followed by Yorkville (74) and Geneseo (61). Sterling was a few points ahead of Geneseo, who finished as 2A runners-up last year, before the Maple Leafs won the 1,600 relay. The Golden Warriors settled for a fourth-place finish with 58 points.

Boys track & field

NIB-12 Indoor Meet

Top 3 teams

1. DeKalb 86

2. Yorkville 74

3. Geneseo 61

Sterling winners: Jacob Gebhardt (3200, 9:42.89); Nyrel Sullivan (long jump, 22-3 3/4)

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