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Boys compete for SPC track title today

Soren Knudsen runs the 4x800-meter relay at the SmithStrong Invitational.

Soren Knudsen runs the 4x800-meter relay at the SmithStrong Invitational.

Calvin Stiteley, Sports Team Leader

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For the past decade, the MCHS boys track and field team has dominated opposing competition. The team has put that on full display in the championship season, winning the SPC conference championship meet four out of the last five seasons.

This year the boys will be competing for potentially their fifth conference title in six seasons, and their second in a row. Head coach Nick Lundin explained that this is the time of the season where the expectation levels begin to rise.

“Our expectations come May are always to have success during the championship part of the season. Our expectations are alway high. Win conference, qualify as many athletes to state as we can out of our sectional, and trophy at state,” Lundin said.

The boys have had their fair share of hardships throughout this season, however. Following a disappointing fifth-place finish at the indoor SPC Conference meet, the boys were looking to improve dramatically with the dawn of the outdoor season looming.

Injuries and illnesses had plagued the team throughout the season, but as the outdoor season progressed, there was evident success from the team as a whole.

“I’ve seen a huge improvement from the sprinters since indoor [season].  We battled some injuries and illnesses during indoor and the start of outdoor. Everyone is getting healthy at exactly the right time,” coach Christine Kump said.

Following a second-place finish at the Wanner Prospect invitational on April 28 and a first-place finish at the Ron Gummerson Cougar Classic on May 4, the boys are making excellent strides as a team for the beginning of the championship season.

Lundin explained that progressing in terms of health has been one of the biggest keys to the team’s outstanding improvement.

“The main improvement has been health. We were really hurt by injuries at the beginning of the season. We’ve never been that injured since I’ve been here,” Lundin said. “It was an adjustment we had to go through but fortunately we seem to be getting healthy at the right time. Health is key for every team.”

In order to win another conference title, every phase of the team needs to be on point. The athletes have focused on taking everything one day at a time, in hopes of seeing success down the road.

“The key to winning another conference title is doing the little things right.  Especially in sprint races, every millisecond counts.  Block starts and handoffs need to be on point,” Kump said. “Every year we see teams get disqualified or run slower times all because of handoffs.  That, I believe, will make or break our sprint relays.”

On the distance side, the boys will be looking to get a big boost from senior Soren Knudsen, the 2016 State Champion in cross country.

“Soren Knudsen will be key for us. He is attempting to do something that few athletes do. Win the 3200m Run, 800m Run, and 1600m Run,” Lundin said. It is a tall task but he is one of the most competitive kids I’ve ever coached and he doesn’t want to let the team down.”

Knudsen explained that he is very excited for the possibility to compete in three events at conference. He has worked extremely hard to prepare for this great challenge, often going the extra mile in practices, in order to give himself the opportunity to make this possible.

“It’s something that is definitely scary but also exciting. It presents a new challenge to me in track and field that I haven’t seen yet,” Knudsen said. “I have confidence in myself and that comes from the times in training where I’ve done things that I know others won’t do.”

This will be no easy competition, as there are numerous outstanding teams in the SPC conference that could give the boys a run for their money. Lundin explained that Plainfield North will likely be their biggest competition at the meet.

“Plainfield North without question will be our biggest threat. They have been an elite team all year and have become a complete team across the board too. Much like we have been the last few seasons,” Lundin said.

The SPC conference meet will begin today at 3:30 p.m. at Joliet Memorial Stadium.

 

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Boys compete for SPC track title today