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Boys Track and Field: Beecher’s Nykaza earns two state titles

Grant NykazBeecher is all alone as he passes crowd finish his third lap 1A 1600-meter run.

Grant Nykaza of Beecher is all alone as he passes the crowd to finish his third lap of the 1A 1600-meter run.

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Updated: July 27, 2013 3:05AM



CHARLESTON — Beecher’s Grant Nykaza added two final distance titles to his high school collection while Thornton flashed its sprinting speed Saturday at the state meet at Eastern Illinois University.

Nykaza won the Class 1A 3,200-meter run in 9 minutes, 10.92 seconds — more than 15 seconds ahead of St. Thomas More’s Nick Hess — and then came back to finish his high school career with a 1,600 victory in 4:23.28.

Nothing to it for Nykaza.

“I did about a 6 to 7-minute cool down, stretched out, ate half a pretzel and drank some Gatorade,’’ he said of the break between races. “I was told they were ahead of schedule. You’ve just got to stay relaxed and that’s it.’’

The rainy weather forced the pole vault and high jump into the fieldhouse, but Nykaza and every other runner didn’t have that luxury at O’Brien Field.

“You’ve just got to realize you trained the whole year, the whole four years, for this moment,’’ he said. “You just can’t give it up because of bad weather.’’

Thornton’s 400 relay of Cavion Clanton, Tifonte Hunt, Maurice Buchanan and Jauan Wesley didn’t yield to the weather, winning the Class 3A title in 42.24 seconds. Their reactions afterward showed their resolve:

“We’ve practiced in these type of conditions just in case this happens at state,’’ Clanton said. “I was kind of used to it.’’

“We showed a lot of courage. We had lane eight, but we finished strong,’’ Hunt said.

“We had a lot of people coming back so we felt we could win it,’’ Buchanan said. “Me being a senior, it felt good to get a state championship.’’

“I knew I was going to be the first one to pass the finish line thanks to the first three legs,’’ said Wesley, who was seventh in the 100. “I’m one of the fastest in the 100 — no one was going to beat me to the finish line.’’

Bloom’s William Williams was state runner-up in the long jump (23 feet, 8 inches) to help the Blazing Trojans tie for 16th place. Micah Frazier ran on the fifth-place 400 relay and he finished eighth in the 200.

Lincoln-Way North junior Julian Hylton was second in the 100 (10.79) to Pekin’s Cole Henderson (10.63).

In Class 2A, Thornridge’s Phillip Thompson won the triple jump title (47-5) and teammate Rashad Barber placed seventh (43-8¾).

The Falcons’ Yemi Ogunbameru took fourth in the 110 hurdles, seventh in the 300 hurdles and led off the sixth-place 400 relay.

St. Laurence’s Mike Hyc placed second in the shot put (59-7¾) and third in the discus (171-11).

“It’s great to come down two years in a row and have a much better performance this year than last year,’’ Hyc said. “Second place is nothing to complain about. It was a good performance. I’m very happy with how things worked out.’’

Torian Parks was a standout for Bremen, anchoring the third-place 800 relay (1:29.35), the fourth-place 400 relay (43.04) and taking seventh in the 100 meters. Charles Wade, MyIshmail Pearson and Corey Dalton also ran on the two relays.



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