CHARLESTON – Redemption was on the minds of several athletes who competed in relays at the recent IHSA boys track and field finals.
For those from Minooka, it was about making amends from the previous year, when the Indians didn’t make the awards stand in any relay after claiming nine medals during the previous four years.
The Indians went on to record their best state showing in two of their three relays.
Minooka turned in its best finish in the 400-meter relay, which was second to East. St. Louis by just .09 seconds. That relay consisted of junior Colin Marchio, senior Maceo Findlay, sophomore Brandon Adams and senior Justin Wolz, who all came back later to run in the 800-meter relay, which took third place.
The school’s previous best finishes in both relays were sixths in 2014.
“Last year didn’t go as well as we thought it would,” Findlay said. “We put in a lot of work so that we could make it to this point, where we were blessed to be able to stand on the podium and be all-state athletes. We used that pain as redemption so that we would come out hard, and that’s what we’ve been doing this year, and what this school plans to do in the future.”
The Indians were hoping to win the title in the 800-meter relay, but Neuqua prevailed and East St. Louis nipped Minooka at the wire to sneak in a third-place finish.
“I’ve never run with a better group of people,” Marchio said. “This will probably be my most memorable year in high school. This was a great experience and is really good for motivating us to want to get better and push ourselves through the hard times next year. It’s been a long season, and I’ve had to work my butt off without our actual sprint coach being here.”
Wolz and Adams got back on the awards stand one final time as they were again bested by East St. Louis and Neuqua in the 1,600-meter relay.
Sophomore Aaron Arroyo took the baton from Wolz while Adams ran the third leg; and senior Matt Dlugopolski, who won a medal on the 800-meter relay in 2014, finished up. They placed third and posted a new school-best time.
“I’ve just been trying to help everyone get a championship,” Adams said. “I’ve tried to do as much as I can so my teammates would be happy and I would be happy. To be able to race against all of these good teams and good people pushes me harder so that I can do better.”
Those efforts played a big role in Minooka claiming seventh place with 29 points, which was its best-ever showing in the large-school meet, two places better than its 2011 finish.