The regular season “to do” list of goals can essentially be checked off across the board for the Riverside-Brookfield High School boys track and field team.
The Bulldogs closed out a stellar regular season by winning the Metro Suburban Conference championship against solid competition (notably rival Glenbard South) for the second straight year. In fact, the RBHS varsity and frosh/soph squads earned a clean sweep of league titles in dominant fashion with 23 personal records and 29 all-conference performances at the conference meet hosted by Elmwood Park. In addition to winning conference, RBHS claimed first place at its own Gary Johnson Bulldog Relays and the T.F. South Invitational along with runner-up finishes at the Morton Invite and Metro Suburban Conference Indoor Invite.
The Bulldogs’ best two hurdlers, Lewis Rogers and Gerrand Moody, couldn’t be happier with the way the regular season went down.
“It was really exciting to be out there in our last year and finish well,” Rogers said. “To be able to [win conference] for the second time against the great competition in our conference was awesome.”
Added Moody: “We came out and had a good season. To cap it off at the conference meet with a win against a Glenbard South team that was seeded to beat us was great.”
Rogers and Moody, all-conference selections in the 1,600-meter relay, 110-meter high hurdles, and 300-meter intermediate hurdles, lead a plethora of all-league varsity performers including junior Matt Chapp (200, 400 relay), senior Dan Curtin (1,600), junior Lou Grigoletti (discus, shot put), senior Richard Mandel (pole vault), junior Mike McCabe (400, 400 relay, 1,600 relay), junior Marvin McKenzie (100, 400), senior Jack VandeMerkt (high jump), freshman Jhalen Williams (400 relay), sophomore Zach Witken (1,600 relay), and sophomore Dean Zigulich (pole vault). Moody also earned all-conference in the 400 relay. Senior Kevin Faje, a four-year cross country and track athlete at RBHS, is another key contributor on the varsity.
Along with outstanding underclassmen like Witken, Williams and Zigulich, further reinforcements are available at the frosh/soph level with promising athletes like Eli Ourth, John Glover, Sam Zalewski, Jamari Wise, RJ Martinez, Alex Escamilla and Adrian Castro already performing well within conference.
“Our underclassmen are really great,” Moody said. “I want them to keep going and doing what they’re doing right now. They’re going to do some great things.”
Kudos to head coach Tim Olson and assistants Gary Johnson and Larry Forberg for building such a deep program on a significant upswing.
“I really like the state of the program,” Olson said earlier this season. “All we ask of our athletes is good attendance and their best effort on a daily basis. If an athlete does those things, he’s a welcomed addition to our team.”
Most importantly, the Bulldogs are remembering to have fun along their winning-filled way this spring.
“Every day we spend together as teammates is awesome,” Rogers said. “I love working out with my teammates and laughing with them, going through the tough times and the hard workouts as a group. Just getting to know everybody on the team has really been great.”
Looking ahead to the IHSA State Meet at O’Brien Stadium on the Eastern Illinois University in Charleston (May 29-31), Rogers is confident any RBHS state qualifiers will be ready for the spectacle and challenge of the Class 3A state finals.
Last season, RBHS gained a lot of valuable postseason experience, finishing second to host Lyons Township High School for the Bulldogs’ best sectional finish in 45 years.
“We’ve gone against some really good schools already during the season,” Moody said. “We just have to come out and do the best we can [at the St. Rita Sectional] and if we can qualify for state then that’s what we’re going to do.”
Rogers, a two-sport star who hopes to compete in both football and track at the collegiate level, is primed for a memorable finish to his outstanding athletic career at RBHS.
“I just have to go out there and run the way I know I can run,” Rogers said. “There’s nothing special I do to psych myself up. I just need to go out there and do what I’ve been training to do all season long.”