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Homewood-Flossmoor's Matt Anyiwo leads St. Ignatius' Chris Korabik during the second lap of the 800-meter run. | Patrick Gleason/For Sun-Times Media

The 800 meters may not be one of track’s glamor events.

It doesn’t have the adrenaline rush of the sprints or the slow-building drama of the distance races.

But it’s one that suits Matt Anyiwo perfectly.

“I feel like it’s one of the most actual, complete races,” the Homewood-Flossmoor senior said. “You need it all. You need speed and endurance and a good mental mindset and a good kick. So it’s one of the most challenging, most strategic races.”

It’s also one that Anyiwo has been building an impressive resume in. One of his claims to fame: being the only Illinois runner to beat St. Ignatius’ Jack Keelan on the track last spring.

That was in the 800 at H-F’s Dick Beebe Invitational, where Anyiwo kicked past the eventual Class 3A state champ in the 1,600 and 3,200.

This spring, Anyiwo has his sights set on an IHSA title of his own in his specialty, and the early signs are encouraging.

He repeated his Beebe Invite title last weekend, finishing in 1 minute, 54.63 seconds. That’s the third-best this season in Class 3A according to DyeStatIl.com and .36 faster than Anyiwo ran in finishing seventh at state last spring.

H-F coach Nate Beebe has seen Anyiwo grow into his middle-distance role.

“I feel like he is a more mature runner,” Beebe said. “Last year he kind of just went out and ran. It was instinctive.”

While some runners find the metric half-mile too long and others consider it too short, Beebe — like Anyiwo — views it as a perfect fit for the Vikings’ leader.

“It’s right for him,” Beebe said. “He does have that ... speed. If we wanted to, we probably could have worked with him all year and he could be a mid-22-second 200 runner. He’s got that nice speed, but he doesn’t have that explosive speed to be that elite sprinter.”

But the ledger is tilted way toward the positives.

“He has good aerobic capacity,” Beebe said. “He’s got that drive that you just don’t see with a lot of kids. He’s been arguably one of the best kids I’ve ever had a chance to coach — talent-wise, attitude-wise, everything.”

Anyiwo hasn’t made a college choice yet, but that’s not his priority right now.

“I’m not stressing, it’ll come,” he said.

He’s also hoping something good will come out of his expected trip to Eastern Illinois next month for the IHSA state meet.

“Everybody wants to go for that sub-1:50 and if it comes, I’m happy with it,” Anyiwo said. “[But] every year the ultimate goal is to get a state championship. So even if that came with a 1:57, I’ll be happy. 

“Just to PR, I’ll be happy with myself. Sub-1:50, that would be a Cinderella finish.”

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