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(Left to right) Lake Park's Antonio Shenault, Prospect's Dave Kendziera, and Providence Catholic's Andrew Helmin race in the 110-meter high hurdles. Helmin finished first, followed by Kendziera in second and Shenault in third. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Ti

CHARLESTON, Ill.--Providence hurdler Andrew Helmin thought for a second before he gave a perfect description of his event.
 
“It’s months of preparation for seconds of competition,’’ he said. “It’s crazy, but I love doing it and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.’’
 
The Notre Dame-bound Helmin culminated a special senior season by winning the 110-meter hurdles (13.99 seconds) and taking second in the 300 hurdles (37.84) to lead Providence to second place Saturday in the Class 3A state meet at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Field.
 
“I’m ecstatic,’’ Helmin said. “It’s great, a great day.’’
 
It was for the Celtics, who brought home a state track trophy for the first time.
 
The 6-foot-3 Helmin accounted for 18 of Providence’s 33 points, junior Mike Monroe was runner-up in the high jump (6 feet, 9 inches) and senior Chad Weaver contributed third place in the pole vault (15-6).
 
“To come down here and perform the way they did,’’ Providence coach Mark Coglianese said. “There’s pressure, and they know. They see the seeds. They see where they’re ranked…Team-wise, they did what they had to do to get us points.’’
 
Monroe improved from jumping 6-7 last season when he finished third at the Class 2A meet.
 
“I don’t want to downplay state runner-up, but I really came here wanting the championship,’’ Monroe said. “But how I did today, I guess I’m satisfied because I’m a junior.’’
 
Weaver, a standout on the football team, vaulted six inches higher than last season when he finished third in Class 2A.
 
“Was going strong, no misses until 15-6,’’ Weaver said. “I tried 16-0, tried to get on a new pole, couldn’t get on it.
 
“I’m excited for the team. With three guys, I think that’s incredible. That’s awesome. That’s a big achievement.’’
 
Monroe said the Providence track coaches—Coglianese, Ken Raymond and Mike Karl--refer to the Celtics’ point-scoring trio as “The Big Three.’’
 
“There’s been years we just hoped to get in the finals with one guy or one event,’’ Coglianese said shortly before the Celtics were awarded their second-place trophy on the track.
 
“We knew we had three special kids here. I don’t know if that will ever happen again.’’
 
Helmin got Providence rolling Saturday with his first-place finish in the 110 hurdle final.
 
“In the rain and everything, it was a perfect race,’’ Helmin said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.
 
“I didn’t let the rain faze me. I just pictured it as a regular day, sunny and everything. I just focused on the hurdles and ran my race. I didn’t let the rain get into my mind.’’
 
Helmin made the improvement from taking fourth in both Class 2A hurdle races last year when he clocked 14.77 in the 100s and 39.18 in the 300s.
 
“It’s mentally preparing, the food you eat, water, a healthy diet,’’ Helmin said of the commitment. “It’s all that. It’s lifestyle changes.’’

“What can you say about Andrew,’’ Coglianese said. “A first and a second. What a way to end his career.’’

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