Woodstock schools take on state challenge
Spring sports wrapped up for Woodstock School District 200 at the IHSA Class 2A boys state track and field championships May 25 and 26 in Charleston and both high schools were well represented.
Woodstock High School
Woodstock High School participated in seven events – junior Phil Krueger in the discus throw; junior Tyler Parson in the 110-meter hurdles; senior Donte Arnold in the 300 intermediate hurdles and triple jump; the 4-by-100 relay team of Arnold, junior Keeondae Benjamin and seniors Nate Hams and Mike Walton; the 4-by-200 relay team of senior Jake Baier, Benjamin, Hams and Walton; and the 4-by-400 relay team of Arnold, Benjamin, Parsons and senior Alec Martys.
“It was an exciting experience for the kids,” said head track and field coach Matt McCulley. “Our goal at the beginning of the season was getting there and we qualified in a lot more events than we were expecting to, so we were very pleased with that. … They all performed well. They all carried themselves well and represented the school well, and we are very proud of that.”
Arnold, in the 300 hurdles, with a time of 38.97 seconds, was the only WHS team member to qualify for the finals, In the finals, Arnold posted a time of 39.19 to finish fifth by .001 of a second. It was the second year in a row Arnold medaled in the 300. Last year he placed seventh.
“His preliminary time was another school record – under 39 seconds,” McCulley said. “It was the first time he had broken 39 [seconds]. That was his big goal to do that. He blew away his heat which was awesome to see because he wasn’t expected to. He had a good lane assignment on Saturday and had the lead after four to five hurdles. He heard his name over the [public address system] and kind of got a little nervous. He still finished strong and had a nice improvement place-wise over last year and a good improvement in his time as well.”
McCulley said the team was a little disappointed in the 4-by-400 relay, where two of their runners bumped into other contestants during exchanges.
“That one second we lost was enough [to not qualify for the finals],” he said.
With several of the team members graduating, McCulley said he will be looking to younger team members to step up next year including sophomore Andy Layoff, who was an alternate for the relay teams. Layoff ran in the 300 intermediate hurdles open meet May 25 and posted a time of 43 seconds in only his second time running the event.
“Even though a lot of the guys who went down are seniors, we have a lot of the guys waiting in the wings and ready to fill those gaps,” he said. “We have a pretty strong group of sophomores that are going to come up.”
Woodstock North High School
Woodstock North High School qualified for five events but only participated in three – senior John Walsh in the pole vault, high jump and triple jump; junior Sydney Smith in the 400 meter dash; and the 4-by-400 relay team of Smith and seniors Ben Markison, Jordan Kempf and Trey Grover. Walsh was scratched from both the high jump and triple jump because of leg pain from the triple jump at sectionals.
Walsh won the pole vault – the first athlete from WNHS to win an IHSA state championship (see article on Page 1). He was the only team member from the school to qualify for the finals on May 25.
WNHS head track and field coach, who has been with the program since its inception, said he was proud of what had been accomplished at the school and felt the experience was something his team wants to build on for the future.
“It was really enjoyable,” Fredericks said. “I’ve been coaching track in Woodstock for five years [two at WHS and three at WNHS], and they have been a great five years. To develop the program to where it is now is great. Our assistants and volunteers have done a great job to get us where we are, and the kids have been fantastic.
“It was a great experience for those guys,” Fredericks said. “We brought alternates that were not seniors so they could get the experience of going down state. They all want to go back.”