Isaias Lopez and Kyle Barron (Photo by Bill Stone)

As recent move-ins freshman year, Lyons Township High School seniors Isaias Lopez and Kyle Barron bonded quickly as new football teammates.

“I had to go up against him [at practice]. He was on the offensive line. I was on the defensive line,” Lopez said. “We knew friends who knew each other. Eventually we just saw each other every weekend and it didn’t stop all four years.”

The best friends are sharing one of their final high school moments — their first berths to the IHSA Class 3A boys track and field state meet — after their performances at the Morton West Sectional on May 18.

The Lions tied for the sectional title with Marist (104 points) and advanced seven entries to state at Eastern Illinois University with top-two finishes or by achieving state-qualifying standards in the meet.

Lopez was second in discus (39.71m/130 feet-3 inches) and Barron was second in shot put (14.10m/46-3.25).

Junior Will DeSessa won triple jump (12.76m/41-10.5). Advancing by taking second were juniors Jack Rempfer (400 in 50.77) and Michael Ferrell (800 in 2:01.45), the 3,200 relay of Ferrell, sophomore Nick Strayer and seniors Hayden Constas and  Charlie McLawhorn (8:05.89) and the 1,600 relay of juniors Finn Murray, Adam Kwak, Matthew McGovern and Rempfer (3:31.07).

Behind strong splits from McGovern (51.9) and Rempfer (51.0), the 1,600 relay’s finish secured the team co-championship.

“It feels great,” said Rempfer as final scores were announced. “All of that training. My coach, my teammates have been pushing me. It just feels great to deliver for them. (And) Matt ran amazing.”

Barron joined track as a sophomore because Lopez encouraged him. Lopez then helped teach him throwing techniques.

“[After shot], I had full confidence he was going to make it in discus,” Barron said.

“It’s exciting to go and join him through the journey because [Lopez] actually got me into [shot]. I just want to have fun [at state]. It’s a cool experience. We’re going to see what we do there and then celebrate.”

Not used to winning events in the West Suburban Silver, DiSessa enjoyed first place but wants to challenge his 43-3 best at state.

“I place second a lot for sure, second and third,” DiSessa said. “Knowing I’m going downstate is a great feeling.”    

In the 3,200 relay, the Lions appeared on the verge of finishing third and missing the qualifying standard. Riverside-Brookfield High School anchor Jack O’Brien then collapsed about 10 meters from the finish and laid on the track as McLawhorn passed by for second place.

“[That] was the first good luck we’ve had all season,” Ferrell said. “It’s such a shame. They raced so hard. You feel bad. They deserve that spot, but it is what it is. If we get a day we’re all on our game, we’ll be much faster [at state].”

The Tulane-bound McLawhorn was among numerous LTHS runners battling illness.

“Even though today wasn’t my best day, I think that was the best track and field memory I’ve ever had,” McLawhorn said. “Just to have that gift for all of the work, especially my younger teammates. Hopefully at state we’ll show them how competitive it is.”