Riverside-Brookfield senior Jeremiah Clarkson and junior Mateo Nunez are fortunate to already know what it’s like to be a part of the boys track and field state meet.
For Clarkson, a state alternate for relays the past three years, actually competing would be an even greater reward.
“It would mean so much to me. I’d know that the only way I would have gotten there was through hard work,” Clarkson said. “Just the fact that I was able to compete there, I’d feel very accomplished. It would be a great honor.”
The Bulldogs again enter the season with high hopes after winning a third straight outdoor Metro Suburban Conference West Division title and taking two individuals and the 400-meter relay to the 2015 Class 3A state meet.
With their five seniors setting the tone, they were fourth (59 points) at the indoor MSC Meet March 19.
“I believe our group, with hard work, has every ability to compete and make it a fourth (MSC) in a row,” RBHS coach Tim Olson said. “At sectionals, we do our best to qualify as many individuals and relays. I believe there are athletes on our team that will be in a position to make it downstate.”
Nunez made his first state trip in the 3,200 but was disappointed in finishing 44th (10:22.37) after a personal-best 9:43.08 at sectionals. In the fall, Nunez achieved his first trip to 2A state cross country and was 40th.
Senior Zach Witken also was a 2015 alternate for the 400 relay. Witken competed at state with the relay in 2013 (21st, 1:35.75).
Nunez is aiming for qualifying in both the 3,200 and 1,600 and top-nine, all-state honors. At MSC indoors, he was second in the 800 (2:10.27) and third in the 1,600 (4:48.08). Nunez never ran the 3,200 indoors but he posted a lifetime-best 4:29.09 for the 1,600 March 26. He won last year’s outdoor MSC West Meet in 4:36.01.
“Right now I feel in much better shape, much better leg speed. I’m much more comfortable now to be able to sprint the final lap,” Nunez said. “It’s more the mentality not just to make it downstate but to hopefully take home some (all-state) hardware. I just want to go down there and run my best.”
The Bulldogs swept the 400, 800 and 1,600 relays at the 2015 MSC West Division Meet. This year’s sprinters include juniors Jhalen Williams, Jamari Wise and Aaron Sheppard and sophomore Stefan Giminski. At the indoor MSC Meet, Witken was sixth in the 400 (57.50) and Giminski was sixth in the 200 (25.90),
“(Our relays) have a lot of potential,” Clarkson said. “We just need a lot of work. That’s what will determine if we go to state or not. We did lose a lot of key guys but we feel like we still have a lot of hard workers to fill their shoes.”
Senior Dean Zigulich had the Bulldogs’ lone title at the indoor MSC Meet by clearing 5-feet-10 in high jump. He also was second in pole vault (10-7) with sophomore Ethan Clarkson third (9-7). Zigulich is the defending outdoor MSC West champion in the 110 high hurdles (17.31).
Also at indoor MSC, junior John Glover was third in the 55 low hurdles (8.11) and fourth in the 55 high hurdles (8.82). The 3,200 relay of senior Andrew LeMesurier, junior Matt Zamudio and sophomores Connor O’Brien and Jack Sagan was third (8:55.69), and O’Brien later was fifth in the 800 (2:13.84). Senior Delon Elem was sixth in shot put (41-1 1/2).
RBHS girls track
The RBHS girls track and field team roster returns its three athletes who accounted for all five top-six finishes at 3A sectionals in 2015 – senior Marly Santora, junior Maddie Hopek and sophomore Hailey Jurgens, a 2014 individual state qualifier for 2A cross country.
The Bulldogs also have two sixth-place finishers from their limited lineup at the indoor MSC Meet March 18 – senior Emma Beener in triple jump (29-6 3/4) and the 3,200 relay of juniors Rachel Magee and Lulu Keen and freshmen Nadia Kaczmarz and Tara Janney (11:11.59).
Top-two sectional finishers automatically advance to state, regardless of performance. Jurgens was third in the 3,200 and 1,600 behind two underclassmen in both races.
At 2A cross country sectionals Oct. 31, Jurgens was two places and 6.5 seconds from the final individual state qualifier. She was 38th at 2A state in 2014.
Hopek was fourth at sectionals in the 100 high hurdles and 300 low hurdles but beaten by two seniors in both events. Santora was sixth in triple jump.
At the 2015 MSC Meet, Jurgens was second in the 3,200 and third in the 1,600 and Santora and Beener finished 2-3 in triple jump.