The road to the Metro Suburban Conference boys track and field title still runs through Riverside-Brookfield High School.
The Bulldogs won their fifth straight outdoor conference championship with a dominant performance over the weekend. Sixteen athletes from RBHS, including several in multiple events, earned all-conference recognition. Earlier this year, RBHS took second at its own Bulldog Relays and Carlin Nalley Invite.
"We really dominated on the oval," RBHS coach Tim Olson said. "We won nine firsts out of 12 races. It was a balanced effort as the 31 all-conference performances demonstrates.
"We have quality athletes that work very hard. We consistently try to promote that culture of show up every day and give your best effort. Overall, it may be the deepest and strongest team I have coached in the last eight years."
Junior George Cervanka and senior Mateo Nunez set the tone for RBHS, with four and three first-place finishes, respectively.
Cervanka won the 100-meter dash in 10.82 seconds and the 200 in 22.55, with teammate Jhalen Williams placing third and second in those races at 11.08 in the 100 and 22.89 in the 200. Cervanka also ran a leg on the Bulldogs' winning 400 and 800 relay teams.
Nunez finished first in the 800 (2:01.24), 1,600 (4:29.16) and 3,200 runs (9:59.54).
Devin Moody also excelled for RBHS by finishing first in the triple jump at 41 feet, 5 inches and second in the high jump at 6-1. He also ran on the 400 relay team.
Other all-conference performance for the Bulldogs included Angel Alarcon, Connor O'Brien, Alex Escamilla, Josh Ranft, RJ Martinez, Ethan Clarkson, Vaughn Hilpp, Jack Sagan, Jacob Wardzala, Hunter Hughes, Nick Del Nodal and Stefan Gminski.
The Bulldogs have benefitted from tremendous senior leadership in recent years. This spring is no exception.
"Each of the last five years our seniors have taken ownership of that team's identity and success," Olson said. "This year, senior leaders like David Arceo, R.J. Hertogs, Evan Jones, R.J. Martinez, Mateo Nunez, Jhalen Williams, and Sam Zalewski have all contributed to the daily culture and success of the team."
RBHS will compete in the Class 3A Lyons Township Sectional on Friday, May 19. The sectional is stacked with quality teams including the host Lions, Morton, Reavis, T.F. North, Oak Lawn, Richards and Argo plus nine high school teams from Chicago.
"I believe all 3A sectionals are tough," Olson said. "Illinois track in 3A is very impressive nationally. We have multiple athletes that are poised to qualify and have already hit the qualifying standard. Obviously they need to perform at the sectional.
"Mateo Nunez [800 and 1,600], George Cervanka [100, 200 and sprint relays], Devin Moody [high jump and sprint relays], Jhalen Williams [100 and sprint relays] and the 3200 relay have all put themselves in very good position to qualify for state."