Rather than feel fatigued, Lyons Township High School senior Jocqael Thorpe often seemed to thrive on his open 800-meter races after earlier anchoring the 3,200 relay.

“I honestly think I felt way better my second event,” Thorpe said. “I feel like the 4-by-800 is kind of a warmup race. I always feel way better in the 800.”

Thorpe turned in two strong performances on June 19 and earned top-nine, all-state medals in both at the IHSA 3A boys track and field state finals at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

The 3,200 relay of junior Charlie McLawhorn, seniors Cade Nelson and Charlie McMahon and Thorpe finished fifth in 7:56.36. Thorpe then finished ninth in the 800 (1:57.22), taking the last all-state medal by 0.19 seconds.

LTHS senior and Wisconsin recruit Owen Hays earned his first all-state medal with seventh in the 3,200 (9:20.24).

Lyons Township High School’s Owen Hays (far right) placed 7th in the 3,200 meters with a time of 9 minutes, 20.24 seconds. (Photo by Dan Chamness)

The Indiana State-bound Thorpe also was on the all-state, eighth-place 3,200 relay as a sophomore. This was LT’s seventh all-state finish with the relay in the past eight state meets.

“My guys did a really good job of hanging up there as best as they can,” Thorpe said. “Our goal actually at the beginning of the season was top three. We still had in mind of being in the top three, hoping to win, but top five we’re still happy with it. It’s a blessing to get all-state.”

For the 800, Thorpe said he was boxed in and limited from fully using his powerful kick. Still, Thorpe became just the third LT runner to earn all-state in the 800 and with the 3,200 relay at the same state finals.

Getting the last all-state medal seemed fitting after Thorpe’s 2019 state fortunes. He was 13th in preliminaries (1:58.14) and missed the 12-person finals by .28 seconds. 

Coming off COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s state meet was one day with just one performance and no preliminaries for track events.

“I’m still very happy I got all-state. I was pretty lucky that I got it,” Thorpe said. “After I missed the finals sophomore year, I was thinking about it for a while junior year before COVID. I was just going into (Saturday’s) 800 with a new mind and just like a regular race.” 

The individual WSC Silver cross country champion Oct. 17, Hays ran his third-fastest 3,200 and was 0.87 from fifth place. Hays said staying with the lead pack throughout the second mile contributed to earning all-state.  

“I had to decide to go with them or try to catch them at the end. I think that really helped me because I consider myself more able to stay up with people than trying to kick them down.” Hays said.

Proteau saves his best for state finals

Riverside-Brookfield High School junior Paul Proteau was determined to achieve another personal record in the 1,600-meter run at the IHSA Class 3A boys track and field state meet Saturday at Eastern Illinois University.

But not by 13.48 seconds.

“I was shocked,” Proteau said. “I hoped I may have broken the school record. I was blown away. I did not think I was going to do that good.”

That exhilarating 4:20.76 fully automatic time earned 13th place after Proteau’s previous-best 4:34.24 won the Morton Sectional with the No. 30 sectional performance. 

His time is comparable to RBHS’ school record of 4:20.70 manual time by Mike Vicchiollo in 1984.

“[Distance coach Anthony Enright] wanted me to work the last 600 [meters] and it completely worked,” said Proteau, who ran his last lap in 60 seconds.

“You’ve really got to trust in your training. You’ve got to go in there headstrong. I think nothing was expected too much of me. It was kind of, ‘You made it. You’ve done all of the hard work. Yeah, have a little bit of fun but kind of do what you can do and give a little more.’”

Freshman Cooper Marrs was 21st in the 800 (4:25.35) to significantly improve his 4:34.74 previous best from sectionals. The 1,600 relay of junior James Dalton, Proteau, freshman Jack O’Brien and Marrs was 21st (3:36.82) and the 3,200 relay of senior Miles Rubio, Dalton, freshman Hayden Marrs and O’Brien was 24th (3:36.82).