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Lake Park's Scott Filip covers ground as he soars in the 3A long jump in Charleston. Filip finished 5th in the long jump. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
CHARLESTON, Ill. — Saturday brought more ugly weather for a boys track season that had seen more than its share already.
With rain coming down and more looming on the radar, everyone’s plans went out the window — including the IHSA’s. State-meet officials scratched the original schedule, which had rest time built in for athletes competing in multiple events.
Even with the hurry-up plan, puddles formed around a track surface that was so slick, one miler lost a shoe down the stretch (he still managed to finish fourth). The Class 3A pole vault and high jump were moved inside.
But on a day when nature made the state meet more unpredictable than ever, there was one sign of normalcy: Lake Park’s continuing dominance.
The Lancers became the fifth school to win four consecutive state titles (none have won five in a row), outdistancing runner-up Providence 63-33. Pekin’s Cole Henderson earned the third-place trophy all by himself with 31 points from three firsts (100 meters, 200, long jump) and a ninth in his four events.
If Henderson was the ultimate individual effort, Lake Park proved that there’s strength in numbers. The Lancers had one champ (Shawn Koch went 48 feet, 4.25 inches in the triple jump), but had points from seven athletes in 10 individual events along with a seventh in the 400 relay.
It wasn’t a perfect day — the Lancers dropped the baton in the relay — but it was more than enough to keep the streak going.
“That was the goal all year, we’re trying to win a state championship,” said Koch, who didn’t leave baseball to join the track team till last year. “Individual is one thing, but we’re looking at team. We knew as long as we held our spots and at least performed [up to] what we think we could do, we’d be champions.”
Scott Filip won three more medals — third in the high jump, fifth in the long jump, member of the 400 relay team — finishing his prep career with eight before heading off to be a decathlete at Rice.
Marcus Jegede placed in both horizontal jumps and the relay while Derrick Smith (16-0) and Tim Ehrhardt went 2-4 in the pole vault. Filip was part of the program for the beginning of the dynasty, when multi-event star Zach Ziemek and twin throwers Jermaine and Jeremy Kline were piling up the points.
“I’m really thankful for the guys who came before me who instilled all my drive and passion for the sport,” Filip said. “I did it for Zach and the Klines and the rest of my team, for everybody who went through the halls of Lake Park.”
As solid as Lake Park was across the board, so too was St. Ignatius’ Jack Keelan, who won the distance double despite the compressed schedule. He took the 3,200 in 8 minutes, 57.61 seconds and the 1,600 in 4:12.11.
Keelan used his trademark closing burst over the last half-lap to win the 3,200. “With 200 [meters] left, I’m getting more and more reliable with dropping a low 200 [time-wise],” he said, “which is exciting to have when you’re dying with 400 to go and someone’s with you.”
In the 1,600, Keelan bided his time back in the pack before again kicking his way to victory. “It went out a little slower than I thought,” he said. “There were some guys I thought would have pushed it early. But when it went out slow, it became very tactical. Everyone was moving up, rotating back to front, back to front.”
Keelan and Henderson were the only multiple winners of individual events, though a few other athletes came close.
Andrew Helmin of Providence and Dave Kendziera of Prospect were 1-2 in both hurdles races, with Helmin winning the 110s in 13.99 and Kendziera taking the 300s in 37.28. Grant’s Brandon Lombardino won the discus (191-0) and took third in the shot put.
Among the other individual winners were Plainfield Central pole vaulter Luke Winder (16-3), Grant high jumper Jonathan Wells (6-11), Libertyville shot putter Matsen Dziedzic (61-11.25) and Willowbrook’s Matt Burns in the 400 (48.89).
The relay champs included Barrington (3,200), Thornton (400) and Minooka (1,600).