Track season is over–or is it?

Last Sunday on my long run, a day after the state track meet, I mentally mapped out what seemed to be four blog posts I needed to write after the meet.

One would be an account of our Jack Keelan’s races in the 3200 and 1600, where he finished second and seventh.  I posted our news blurb about those races on the blog, with a photo, as an update when I did not get to this post right away.

One would be a post about how we missed something amazing at the state meet, the Plainfield North 4×400 relay, a once in a lifetime event.  As it has been reported in various places, the third runner for the Plainfield North relay, Derrick Suss, pulled his hamstring on the first turn after taking the baton.  He took a bad fall, hurting his wrist and scraping his side, and he lay on the track as other runners went around him.  He crawled out of lane one before the anchors took the batons.  Then he got up and hobbled around the track to finish his leg.  If he had not done so, Plainfield North would not have received their ninth place medal.   Suss did finish his leg, and the team finished the event, two minutes behind the other teams—but it counts.  We got first word of this amazing event at a gas stop on the way home in Rantoul, where our coach Pat Boyle was button-holed by a woman who, possibly, was Derrick Suss’s mother.  She told Boyle the whole story.

We missed it all, although I suppose we can sort of say that we were there.  After watching Keelan’s award presentation for the 1600 and then watching Leo’s Theo Hopkins and Keith Harris finish sixth and seventh in the Class A 200 to give Leo their chance for the team win, we had left the stands to find Keelan as he left the track infield area.  We were talking to Keelan outside the track and taking photos as the Plainfield North drama unfolded.  You can read a full account, as I did, from Mike Newman of Dyestat/ESPN High School.

I forget what the third post would be about.

Finally, I also wanted to write a post about my funny feelings as I wrote and talked about Jack Keelan’s great accomplishment at the state meet using the pronoun “we.”  I generally have a problem with coaches who seem to want to take credit for the performances of their athletes.  But I found myself talking about Keelan’s strategy and training as a “we” thing—as in, “We knew Jack was one of the guys who could finish the race with a sub 60-second last lap.”

The credit for Keelan’s performance sits with Jack Keelan.  I am glad I had the opportunity to be his coach and give him support and guidance.  But he could have performed as well with the help of many other coaches.  I am not sure how many other Jack Keelans I will coach in my career.

Perhaps this post takes care of unfinished business and ties up a few loose ends from last week.  I am not sure yet that I even have enough perspective on last week to write about it yet.  The return from the state meet to school the week after Memorial Day is always hectic and difficult.  We had final exams at Saint Ignatius this week.  I (still) have grading left over from the last weeks of class, as well as final exams to grade (those are almost done).  I have grades to finish this weekend.

Last night senior track athletes Patrick Santino, Kyle Kelley-Carter, Clifford Vickrey, Peter Devitt,  Miguel Aviles, and Mike Tonner walked across the stage at the University of Illinois at Chicago Forum to graduate.

I haven’t been able to give lots of thought to last weekend.

Strangely, though, last Sunday and Monday I did pull out a calendar and my workout planning materials, and I began to sketch out the cross country training schedule for the summer and fall.  I still have work to do with that, but I have it started.

I am ready to look ahead, it seems, but not behind.

The track season is over—or is it?  I have done a little bit of organizing for our boys in terms of post season events.  Kelley-Carter wants to give the decathlon a try in the next few weeks.  He has been learning events he did not yet know—javelin, high jump, hurdles.  Other boys are targeting the new Midwest Distance Festival on Friday, June 8 at St. Francis College in Joliet.  Our freshman distance runner Andy Weber qualified for the freshman mile.  Keelan will run the mile.  We are trying to put together a distance medley relay.  Finally, senior Patrick Santino might run in the Senior Spotlight meet on Saturday, June 9, also at St. Francis, which pits the top senior track athletes from Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois against each other. (Note :  Santino told me after I wrote this post that he has taken a week off from training and won’t run the meet.)

Cross country looms ahead much larger, though.  I began this blog last summer as I did my planning for last year’s cross country season.  As I think about what I want to write about now, next year’s cross country season is what comes to mind.

One last item:  Patrick Santino has already invited me to be his friend on Facebook.  It is an Ignatius school policy that teachers should not be Facebook friends with students; friending Santino so soon is probably cutting the rule a little bit close, even.

But also on Facebook last night I noticed a photo posted by an Ignatius graduate and former Ignatius runner Alcaeos Bolaris, who now attends the Illinois Institute of Technology.  The photo, from four years ago, I think, shows Michael Kertez, Sal Salvato, and Bolaris preparing to run the 200 meters at one of our Ignatius home track meets.  I chuckled when I saw the photo.  I don’t know where the photo came from; perhaps it was taken by our team photographer and assistant coach Steven Bugarin, and in that case it came from our Shutterfly photo pages from that year.  I decided it was time to put a new photo at the top of this blog, and I think this photo fits the spot.

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Filed under coaching, high school track and field, IHSA, running, teaching

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