As a fourth-year boys track and field athlete, Riverside-Brookfield High School senior Jackson Drumheller sees the work ethic established from the Bulldogs seeking a third consecutive Metro Suburban Conference Blue Division title.
Add to that six athletes who contributed to the boys cross country team’s IHSA Class 2A state championship Nov. 5.
“The distance runners are definitely this team’s strength. They are able to compete with just about anyone, which really helps the team,” Drumheller said.
The Bulldogs return 2022 state qualifier Luke Smithing from the 300-meter intermediate hurdles and eight more athletes who earned 2022 All-MSC honors with top-three individual or top-two relay finishes at the conference meet.
At state last year, junior Smithing finished 21st (43.65) after his personal-best 41.48 won the Morton Sectional. He also was third at sectionals in the 110 high hurdles (18.64), one place from qualifying for state, behind one graduated senior.
RBHS (163 points) won conference by 53 points after their 2021 title was by 12 points.
Smithing won the 300 hurdles (41.87) and was second in the 110 hurdles (16.88). Also winning were junior Jack O’Brien (3,200 in 10:08.20), the 3,200 relay with senior Zack Gaynor and junior William Kallas (8:42.55), the 1,600 relay with junior Eamon Ryan and O’Brien (3:33.73) and the 800 relay with junior Jack Grivetti and senior Samuel Elusoji (1:35.44). Also all-conference were second-place junior Charlie Yager (high jump), and Gaynor (1,600) and third-place junior Muhammad Salem (pole vault) and O’Brien (400).
At the state cross country meet last fall, O’Brien was an all-state 16th and the Bulldogs’ next five finishers — Kallas (38th), Gaynor (56th), sophomore Brady Norman (69th), and juniors Brennan Lester (80th) and Hayden Marrs (160th) – also will bolster the track team’s distance group. Marrs also will run the 300 hurdles.
O’Brien winning 1:58.72 in the 800 at the Proviso East Midwest Classic on March 25 already is under the 1:59.36 sectional state-qualifying standard and his 4:29.76 in the 1,600 on March 10 is near the 4:23.68 cut. O’Brien also won the 1,600 relay with Marrs, Gaynor and Kallas (3:38.25) at Proviso East.
Others to watch include junior Evan McMullen (1,600), sophomore Asa Kahle (400, 800) and Drumheller, who competed in the 200, long jump and with the 800 relay at the 2022 sectional.