Illiana Christian's Tony Wondaal picks up speed into the final lap of the 3,200 meter relay. | Patrick Gleason/For Sun-Times Media
CHARLESTON, Ill.--Standing side-by-side near the track and raising their arms in celebration, Illiana Christian’s Kevin Vroegh, Austin Gibson and Nick Fiene watched anchor Tony Wondaal approach the finish line with the rest of the field behind him.
Composed of three seniors and a junior, the Vikings’ 3,200-meter relay set a Class 2A meet record when they won the state title Saturday in 7 minutes, 46.38 seconds at Eastern Illinois’ O’Brien Field.
“We really wanted to get ahead of the pack right away, and make sure we lead the whole time,’’ said Vroegh, who led off the race. “It was just ‘Go fast.’ That’s all you can really do, just go as hard as you can.’’
Vroegh and Wondaal both ran on Illiana’s 3,200 relay last year that placed third behind Kaneland and University High from Normal.
Saturday’s win had extra meaning for the Vikings after the state cross country meet last fall didn’t turn out as hoped with a runner-up finish.
“This was everything,’’ Wondaal said. “After a hard cross country season, we wanted to come back. I wanted to win as a senior, be a state champion.
“Cross country I struggled personally and coming up with a second place at state finals, it was hard on the team after being ranked No. 1 all year.’’
Vroegh came back later in Saturday’s meet to take fifth in the 800 (1:56.55).
Colin DeYoung, a sophomore, contributed seventh place in the 3,200 (9:41.37) to help Illiana finish 13th out of 65 teams that scored in the 2A meet.
Cahokia was 2A state champion with 90 points, six ahead of runner-up Kaneland.
Rich Central was two spots behind Illiana in 15th place.
The Olympians’ 800 relay of Kiandre Henderson, Franklin Hunt, Gamar Hayles and Cantrell Davis, all underclassmen, finished fourth in 1:29.08. State champion Phillips from Chicago ran 1:28.03.
Hunt, a sophomore, chipped in eight points on his own when he claimed sixth in the 100 (11.04) and 200 (22.34).
Morgan Park senior Brandon Riley saw improvement over 2013 by taking third in the 400 meters (49.37). He finished eighth in the event a year ago.
“I didn’t pr (personal record), but I think I gave it my best effort this weekend,’’ Riley said. “I knew what I had to do to get on the podium. Last year I didn’t get to get on the podium, but I worked hard to work my way up.’’
Riley will attend Valparaiso in the fall and plans to play football and run track.
Marian Catholic junior Matthew Martinson placed third in the high jump (6 feet, 7 inches). La Salle-Peru state champ Logan Zeman cleared 6-8.
Hillcrest sophomore Luther Newburn took fourth in the triple jump (44-11¼) won by Cahokia’s Jamari Ward (47-8¾).
In Class 1A, Leo senior Terron Bell was third in the shot put (52-2) while teammates Riley McClendon, James Davis, David Frye and Jamil Green finished fifth in the 400 relay (43.99) won by Eureka (42.90).
Chicago Christian reached the finals in the 3,200 relay and placed eighth (8:12.65).