Riverside-Brookfield High School senior Jhalen Williams spent the week of 2016 track and field sectionals perfecting his start for the 100-meter dash.
A second-place finish earned his first individual Class 3A state berth.
“I was seeded maybe fourth or fifth,” Williams said. “I got there early just to work on my start. I felt confident going into the race. I went out there and performed to the highest of my ability.”
On Saturday, RBHS (81 points) was a strong second to Jacobs (120) at its 49th annual Gary Johnson Bulldog Relays. Aurora Central Catholic (45) was third.
Juniors Ethan Clarkson and Vaughn Hilpp swept first and second in pole vault by clearing 12 feet and 9-6. In the 100, junior George Cervenka (11.78) and Williams (12.12) were 1-3 and the 3,200 relay of juniors Jack Sagan, RJ Martinez and Angel Alarcon and senior Mateo Nunez (8:23.82) won.
Also second were junior newcomer Devin Moody in triple jump (38-1 1/4) and high jump (6-2), Nunez (1,600 in 4:35.21), the 400 relay (junior Nick Del Nodal, Cervenka, junior Stefan Gminski and Williams in 44.68), the sophomore 1,600 relay (sophomore Jason Ranft, sophomore Evan Dunbar, sophomores David Keen and Aaron Palmer in 3:50.95), the freshman 1,600 relay (Brendan Czajka, Ethan Holmes, Chris Doherty and Rahim Kouferidji in 4:03.38) and the sophomore 1,600 medley relay (Czajka, Kouferidji, Holmes and Ranft in 3:58.00). The 1,600 relay (Williams, seniors RJ Martinez and Alex Escamilla and Nunez in 3:39.95) was third.
At the Metro Suburban Conference Meet May 12, they’ll seek their fifth straight outdoor conference championship and third straight sweep of both levels.
“Usually it’s all about the seniors’ leadership and performance,” RBHS coach Tim Olson said.
“The (2016) kids took a lot of pride in the four in a row. The kids are good about maybe sacrificing individual goals for the conference meet and then at sectionals we let their voice be heard more about what they want to do.”
At the 3A Lyons Township Sectional May 19, top-two finishers and entries that achieve qualifying standards at the meet will advance to state.
Williams competed at state for the first time after being a relay alternate the previous two seasons.
Last year’s 400 relay was third at sectionals. Now the sprinters have a healthy Cervenka with football players Williams, Del Nodal, Gminski and junior newcomer Hunter Hughes.
“I’m glad to have George (competing). It helps us all get better,” Williams said. “(State) was a great experience. I feel like now I want to get there again and prove myself even more.”
On Nov. 5, the cross country team was 11th at the 2A state meet. Nunez (16th) became the program’s first all-stater since 1976 with junior Connor O’Brien, Wardzala and Sagan the next finishers.
At last year’s track sectional, Nunez was third in the 3,200 (9:53.90) and fourth in the 1,600 (4:31.85). The 3,200 relay was third (8:23.13), Sagan fourth (800 in 2:02.93) and Clarkson fifth (12-1). Senior John Glover, third in the 300 intermediate hurdles and fifth in the 110 highs, is recovering from surgery for a torn meniscus.
At the indoor MSC Meet March 18, RBHS shared second with ACC behind Glenbard South. Nunez (1,600 in 4:39.43), Clarkson (12-0) and the 3,200 relay (Nunez, Wardzala, sophomore Chris Magno and Sagan in 8:23.03) won titles.