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Beecher's Grant Nykaza celebrates as he nears the finish line to take first place in the 1A 1,600-meter run. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
CHARLESTON, Ill. — Grant Nykaza got the news early that this wasn’t going to be the day he’d been expecting.
“I woke up to my parents saying they were getting the rain ponchos,” the Beecher senior said Saturday. “I was like, ‘What? The weather was supposed to be perfect today.' ''
If the rainy conditions weren’t the best, though, Nykaza was pretty close to it. He successfully defended his Class 1A title in the 1,600 meters at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Field after earlier winning the 3,200.
Nykaza wasn’t seriously challenged in either race, winning the 3,200 by more than 15 seconds in 9 minutes, 10.92 seconds and taking the 1,600 by more than four seconds in 4:23.28. The 3,200 time was .36 off the small-school meet record.
“I think I was 8:04, 8:05 [going into the] last lap,” Nykaza said. “I knew I had to go 65 [seconds for the record]. But it’s hard when there’s no one in front of you to give it your all at the end.”
For the last lap of his high school career — which included the 1A cross country title last fall — Nykaza allowed himself a chance to enjoy the moment.
“I couldn’t help but smile,” the Florida State recruit said. “Finished my career with the Seminole chop at the end, which was kind of exciting.”
While Nykaza won’t be back, Glenbard South junior John Wold may be after winning the Class 2A 800 in a class-record 1:54.66.
It was a satisfying end to what has been an occasionally frustrating spring.
“I really didn’t expect to do this off that type of season,” said Wold, whose training was limited by a nagging injury involving the tendons in his ankle.
“Every time I run, they pop and slide over each other and tear each other up,” Wold said. “So it gets to the point where I couldn’t walk and had to be on crutches a few weeks. Finally, we got the issues fixed and now that we know what it is, we can prevent that from happening through training and various treatment.
“I should be good now. I wish we could have figured it out earlier.” Wold was one of a few local champions in a 2A meet dominated as expected by Cahokia, which won its third consecutive state title 99.5-40 over runner-up East St. Louis.
Sandwich’s Ryan Njegovan won the discus with a 2A class record of 188 feet, 4 inches, Thornridge’s Phillip Thompson took the triple jump (47 feet, 5 inches) and Sycamore’s Dion Hooker was first in the 200 (22.23). Kaneland (3,200) and Grayslake Central (1,600) were among the relay champs.
In 1A, Leo's Marlon Britton took first in the 110 hurdles at 14.47.