Lake Park's Antonio Shenault cruises to a victory in the 110 hurdles at Glenbard West. | Patrick Gleason/For Sun-Times Media
Lake Park's drive for five hasn't gone into high gear yet.
But with the state finals still four weeks away, the four-time defending Class 3A champ Lancers figure they've got plenty of time to get ready.
"Early meets don't mean too much to us," hurdler Antonio Shenault said at Saturday's Jim Arnold Invitational hosted by Glenbard West. "We'll wait till sectionals and state."
Shenault had a mixed day for Lake Park, which finished second to Edwardsville, 81-69. He won the 110-meter hurdles with a Class 3A state outdoor best of 14.11 seconds, but then had a rough start in the 300 hurdles and was 12th at 43.52.
"That was the best start of any 110s I've raced," Shenault said. "That's something I've been focused on all season."
The 300s were another story, partly because the wind kicked up and got Shenault's footwork messed up. "I went over with my left the first two hurdles," he said.
Elsewhere, the Lancers had a double winner in the throws, as Curtwan Ellis went 58 feet, 3.5 inches in the shot put and 165-4 in the discus, and a first in the pole vault from Elliot Krause (14-6).
They also had two top-eight finishers in the 1,600 (Eric Dade and Lucas Bracher), a rarity for a program that's relied heavily on the field events during its title runs.
"I think the distance kids could be the biggest pleasant surprise for us this year," Lancers coach Jay Ivory said. "People don't really talk about them at all. I think they could gave a great performance for us before it's all said and done."
Five-time state medalist Marcus Jegede missed the meet while recovering from an injury and Joe Pierce may have suffered a hamstring injury in the long jump, according to Ivory.
But the coach, like Shenault, isn't worried.
"It's not quite what I wanted out of this, but we had some good performances," Ivory said. "But then obviously we have room for improvement."
Oak Park-River Forest's Lionel Towns had some good performances too, winning the 100 (10.96) and anchoring the Huskies to victory in the 800 and 1,600 relays (1:31.40, 3:24.18).
Like other sprinters, he had to contend with a sometimes strong headwind. "On this bank right here it hits you so hard," Towns said, referring to the final stretch. "But you've got to tuck your chin and run through it."
That's also what St. Rita's Treston Forbes did en route to winning the 200 in 21.96.
"It was kind of hard trying to run up against it," he said of the wind. "I was just trying to keep my form."
One of the closest finishes, oddly enough, came in the 1,600, where Glenbard South's Joe Singleton held off Wheaton North's Joseph Emmanuel by seven-hundredths of a second, winning in 4:25.19.
The race didn't go anything like Singleton expected, even though it ended to his liking.
"Not at all," he said. "I thought Emmanuel would take it and I would just sit on him for the whole race till 200 to go."
Instead, Lockport's Will Giroux went out fast and made Singleton change plans in a hurry. "I was [thinking], 'Oh crap, I've got to keep him in my sights,'" Singleton said.
Other local individual winners were Evanston's Carl Klamm in the 400 (50.44), Batavia's Ryan Wieties in the 800 (1:56.75), Glenbard West's Jack Billings in the 3,200 (9:38.92) and Oak Park's Chris Madison-Wright in the high jump (6-6) and Kahrion Martin in the triple jump (44-4.5). Emmanuel anchored Wheaton North to victory in the 3,200 relay (8:05.89).