Boys Track: Horn helps Neuqua take second at UEC meet
BY GENE CHAMBERLAIN For Sun-Times Media March 16, 2013 7:04PM
Neuqua Valley's Julius Garcia leads Waubonsie Valley's Jeff Colvin during the 800-meter run Saturday at the UEC Indoor Meet. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 18, 2013 7:13AM
Neuqua Valley’s Connor Horn took 44th in the state in cross country as a mere freshman, and on the track he’s showing at least as much promise.
Referred to as Neuqua Valley’s “freshman sensation” by the P.A. announcer at Saturday’s Upstate Eight Conference Indoor Track and Field championship, Horn did not fail to deliver, leading a 1-2 Neuqua Valley finish in the 1,600 meters and overall dominance by the Wildcats in distance events as they compiled 115 points to finish second in the overall team standings to defending state champion Lake Park (137.5).
“He’s the most talented freshman we’ve ever had and he’s a hell of a racer and a hell of a competitor, and he did an awesome job today,” said Neuqua senior Robbie Hohlman, who finished second to Horn but ran neck and neck with him until the back straightaway on the final lap of Batavia’s 200-meter indoor facility.
Horn finished in 4:31.47 and Hohlman in 4:31.98. The freshman, who competed in the 800 and mile at Scullen Middle School and also ran summer club meets for the Naperville Track Club, likes the help he’s getting from upperclassmen like Hohlman, who actually led much of the race.
“They push me and help me with pace because I’m not the best at really pacing races yet,” he said. “So when (Hohlman) took over, I just knew to follow him and that was nice.”
The 1,600 is one of the events normally owned by upperclassmen, so it’s obvious Horn is expected to be a threat for a long time.
“Obviously to compete at the varsity level is one thing, but to win at the varsity level is another,” said Neuqua Valley coach Mike Kennedy said.
Kennedy had no less praise for Neuqua Valley’s effort in the 3,200 meters or the 1,600 relay as they earned conference titles in those events, as well.
Neuqua Valley junior Nick Bushelle and senior Mike Whaley ran together in the 3,200 like Hohlman and Horn did, before Bushelle went out hard after it and won easily in 9:33.61 with Whaley second in 9:44.32.
“Buschelle was absolutely fantastic,” Kennedy said. “We were seeded high in the distances and it was nice to see the 1-2 finishes.
“Overall our indoor season is just to get us ready for outdoors, kind of laying some groundwork. So this is a good swing for us right now. Once we get outdoors that’s where we put our main focus.”
Neuqua Valley’s Roland Dewgard, Dennis Thurow, Nick Rafacz and Ty Moss captured the 1,600 relay by upsetting St. Charles East, which had recorded the state’s fourth-best time indoors heading into the meet.
“I think Ty Moss was a little disappointed at the way he ran in the open 400 and really wanted to get back and redeem himself a little bit,” said Thurow. “He ran a great leg.
“We saw St. Charles North at the Mustang Relays and they’ve been putting together some great stuff so it’s really great to beat them.”
Waubonsie Valley placed fifth with 46 points, despite some bad luck. The Warriors’ only title came from senior shot putter Riley Kittridge at 55-3, well below his 57-10 seeding distance.
“I’m sure he’s not too happy with himself,” Warriors coach Kevin Rafferty said. “The beautiful thing about this sport is you can win and yet you can turn around and say you want to do better. He won, was a little upset but had a couple bigger efforts that went out of bounds.”
The Warriors got a second-place finish from John Burke (51.21) in the 400, while James Travis had personal bests of 45 feet, 3 1/4 inches in the triple jump and 22-1 in the long jump to take thirds. But illness hit six distance runners and kept them from being completely effective.
Metea Valley took 10th with 15 points, led by its third-place 3,200 relay team (8:19.4).