Back-to-back Suburban Prairie Conference titles have been nice for the Riverside-Brookfield boys' track team, and the Bulldogs go into the 2005 season eying another.
"Our goal is to be conference champs," RB coach Gary Johnson said. "We do a lot of goal setting and everyone has a personal goal. But we're basically a big-meet team, so conference is what we set our sights on. That's the number one goal with this group."
RB has already faced a pair of conference rivals over the weekend at their own 38th annual Bulldog Relays.
With their sixth-place team finish, the Bulldogs finished in front of SPC teams Ridgewood (seventh) and Elmwood Park (ninth). Jacobs ran away with the meet with 110 team points, followed by Lane Tech (56), Dixon (54) and Illiana Christian (50). RB had 35 team points.
Just like last season when he qualified for the State meet in three events, D.J. Wilson led the way for the Bulldogs over the weekend. He won the long jump with a mark of 20-feet, 10.75 inches, besting his closest competitor by more than seven inches. He also won the triple jump with a mark of 43-6 and the high jump with a leap of 6-3.
Wilson, RB's only returning State qualifier would like to break into this year's finals in a pair of those events. All three of his marks over the weekend were better than what he did downstate a year ago.
While Wilson will headline this year's team, he won't be the team's only attraction. RB returns a host of promising athletes.
Senior Tyler Kos took third in the 300-meter low hurdles last year. At Saturday's meet, he finished second in the 110-meter high hurdles in 15.20 seconds, and third in the 300 low hurdles in :41.09. Those marks are all close to State qualifying times.
Senior Joe Coia will lead the Bulldog sprinters in the 100- and 200-meter relays. Junior Ken Mantel will be the team's lead pole-vaulter. He finished fourth over the weekend with a vault of 10-6. Sophomore Mario Triplett will help out in the long jump and triple jump.
Junior Mike Barry will lead the Bulldogs in the middle-distance events, while sophomore Jack McLaughlin will help out in the long distances, especially the 1,600 run.
In the weight events, where RB might have its most depth, Bryan Tabor will throw the shot put and discus.
Juniors Mike Clark, Justin Smith and Mark Rouleau will all toss the discus.
RB has had a very good track turnout this year, which Johnson says will help the team fill a lot of different spots, especially the relays. This year's roster will also skew towards younger athletes, but that's not a problem for the Bulldogs.
On the girls' side at the Bulldog relays, RB finished seventh in the 11-team field with 23.5 team points.
Timothy Christian won with 54 points, followed closely by West Niles (52) and
Bulldogs sophomore Lindsey Peterson paced her field in the preliminaries of the 100-meter dash. She followed that with a second-place finish with time of 12.46 seconds in the event. Junior Vanessa Kanz won the shot put with a toss of 34-8 and tied for third in the discus with a throw of 103-10.