MORRIS — It was quite a weekend for the Morris boys track and field team, as the Redskins competed in four separate events at Eastern Illinois University for the IHSA Class 2A State Track Meet.
The Redskins had their most state qualifiers since 2001. Nic Davy set a new school record in the 100 meter dash (10.88) and a personal record in the 200 meter dash (23.22) to advance to the state finals in both races. At the finals on Saturday, Davy finished ninth in the 100 with at time of 11.1. Davy finished with a new personal record with a time of 22.2 and put him as the fifth-place finisher.
"I was glad to see Nic run as well as he did," Morris coach Ryan Battersby said."He had a chip on his shoulder after the 100. Two state medals is quite an accomplishment. I can't remember the last time that's been done at our school."
The 4 x 200 team of Davy, Alejandro Ochoa, Jase Cole, and Enrique Gonzalez who was filling in for the injured Austin Hatcher just missed the Finals with a time of 1:31.55, while Dan Grant cleared 12-6 in the pole vault in the preliminaries, but missed the finals.
Battersby hopes that the strong showing is just the start of bigger things for the Redskin track program. This was his second year as the head coach, after he spent one year as a girls assisant. Prior to that, he spent four years as an assistant coach at Wheaton-Warrenville South.
"Wheaton-Warrenville South has a great athletic program," he said. "They are good at just about every sport. I was able to watch and learn there and get a different perspective.
"A lot of people here had a misconception about track, that it was mainly conditioning for other sports."
Battersby did note that track is good training for other sports, but it is also able to stand on its own.
"We want to recognize everyone's personal best and have the kids take pride in it," he said. "We also want to put every athlete in the event that suits them the best. There is something for everyone in track. We look at other sports to see where we can get kids. The cross country team has the distance runners, the football team tends to have sprinters and throwers, and the wrestling team might have some pole vaulters and throwers.
"What I learned at Wheaton is a culture that track can be a top sport, and you can still have fun doing it. It improves other sports, too. The kids get faster and stronger, and they are competing."
Battersby also pointed out that more and more college recruits and professional draft picks are multi-sport athletes, with track and field often being one of the sports.
"You see it all the time now," he said. "Colleges post how many of their football recruits were multi-sport athletes and even the recent NFL draft had a lot of them. Coaches like to see that. If a lineman threw the shot put or discus, they know he must have some agility. Or if a wide receiver ran the 100 or 200, they know he can maintain his speed."
Battersby is also excited that the high school set to have a new track facility ready for next year.
"The new track will be a big help for the progarm," he said. "The kids will be able to perform in front of their peers at their own school. Being able to have home meets will be much better than some of those drives to Sycamore on a Tuesday night."