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Prep Track & Field Insider: Bright spots for the struggling Royals

Published: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 11:24 p.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, May 1, 2014 9:06 a.m. CST

Spotlight on: H-BR’s Emily Clark, Madison Davies, Kristen Clark and Audrey Harrod, who won the 4x400 and the 4x800 at the Gordon Mool Invitational. The latter was a school record. 10:50.8.

What to watch for

Boys

DeKalb, Sycamore at Gib Seegers Classic at Sycamore, 4:30 p.m. Friday

Girls

DeKalb, Sycamore at Woodstock Invitational, 4:30 p.m. Friday

Upcoming Schedule

Thursday

Boys & Girls: Genoa-Kingston at Richmond-Burton, 4 p.m.

Friday

Boys: Hinckley-Big Rock at Oregon, 4 p.m.; DeKalb, Sycamore at Sycamore Gib Seegers Classic, 4:30 p.m.; Kaneland at Crystal Lake Central H.S., 5 p.m.

Girls: Kane County Girls, 4:00 p.m.; DeKalb, Sycamore at Woodstock Invitational, 4:30 p.m.

Monday

Boys: Sycamore at Sterling Triangular, 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday

Boys: Kaneland at Marmion Academy, 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday

DeKalb Triangular, 4 p.m.

Notebook

Schrader continues to set herself apart

DeKalb’s Kelsey Schrader's biggest challenger in the 3,200 meters so far this season has been the clock.

The newest barrier she’s crossed this season is the 11-minute mark. At Saturday’s Harlem Invite, Schrader, who will run at Arkansas next season, finished first and set a personal record of 10 minutes 59.1 seconds.

She’s just a special runner,” DeKalb coach Stefan Hueber said. “And the way that she’s been training recently, we knew she was due for a big race. I don’t know if we quite thought she’d be under 11, but that was somewhat expected.”

The unexpected is almost what’s expected now from Schrader. In light of how she's dominated in practice and meets, Hueber isn’t about to pick against her at the end of the year.

“I think that Kelsey might even be one of the top contenders this year for a state championship in the two-mile,” he said.

Alvarez fights through injury

Schrader isn’t the only Barbs athlete who’s been showing her best lately.

Since returning from an injury break for stress reactions in her shins, junior Kara Alvarez has upped her game in the high jump. She cleared a personal best of 5-feet 2-inches April 22 then followed that with wins at the Burlington Rocket Relays and the Harlem Invite, where she scored a 5-0 both times.

Alvarez trains with the same jump coach who helped Jasmine Brown to a state title last season, so some of that magic may be rubbing off. Hueber said he thinks Alvarez has much more room for improvement.

“I wouldn’t say she’s back at full strength,” Hueber said. “I still think she’s got something good ahead of her.”

Alvarez is also a sprinter, so she’s one to keep an eye on in the future.

Robertson’s breakout meet

A dominating win by his team at Saturday’s Peterson Prep Invitational left Kaneland boys coach Eric Baron with plenty of accolades to distribute, but most of them went to senior hurdler Brock Robertson.

Robertson's 15.75 finish in the 110-meter race and 40.30 in the 300 both brought home first place, even though he wasn’t expected to win either one. In fact, he was the last qualifier for the 110, which put him in lane six.

Robertson also ran in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays for the Knights, and Baron lauded the great performances he gave. After how hard he’s worked in the offseason and throughout this season, it didn’t come as a huge surprise.

“We’ve known for a while that he was ready for some big breakout performances,” Baron said. “He’s done really well for us, but this was his kind of his coming out, especially in the hurdle races for us.”

Baron said he expects Robertson to drop below the 40-second clip in the 300 and compete for titles later on in the season. Robertson also has a younger brother, Tanner, who runs relays and hurdles as well, so this is a name you’ll probably be hearing for the next few years.

Gridiron stars key to DeKalb’s success

Despite their experience from the fall, DeKalb boys coach Tim Holt said the football players on his track team aren’t fans of dealing with this cold spring.

“Oh, they don’t like going out in the cold,” he laughed.

Maybe, but it’s not having an impact on their relay times. Last week at Burlington, the 4x100 relay of Jaylen Cole, James Robinson, Eriq Torrey and Drew Paszotta and the 4x200 relay of David Long, Torrey, Robinson and Paszotta both took first place.

And at Peterson Prep on Saturday, Cole, Dre Brown, Torrey and Paszotta took first in the 4x100 while the 4x200 was won by Brown, Torrey, Paszotta and Robinson. Holt sometimes rotates runners in and out, but the familiarity is there regardless.

“They know each other well. I think that helps out, because that relay is a team event,” Holt said. “You work on the baton handoffs, so it helps that they’ve been running together and playing football together for a while.”

They’ve done well individually, too. Robinson won the 200-meter dash at a triangular last week, and Paszotta took the 100 at the Rocket Relays.

VIEWS: Bright spots for the struggling Royals

A pair of hurdlers are finding success and providing leadership for a Hinckley-Big Rock boys team that has struggled with a lack of experience this season.

Sophomore Zach McNanna and senior captain T.J. Gavin have been competitive all year for the Royals, but are now consistently finding themselves at the top of the tables. At last week's eight-team Gordon Mool Invitational in Amboy, McNanna won the 110-meter high hurdles and the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, while Gavin placed second in both.

Two days later, they were back at it in the Rockford Christian Invitational. Gavin won the 110 with a personal-best time of 17.46 seconds, and McNanna finished first in the 300 at 45.36. Having this type of success in the hurdles is new for the Royals, and it’s certainly welcome.

“For them, they’re kind of the guys that seem to come out and score for us every meet in those events, and that’s not like a Hinckley-Big Rock team,” coach Greg Burks said. “It’s a nice luxury that we have two pretty quality guys in those events this year.”

In his second year on the team, McNanna has established himself as one of the top runners and overall athletes on the H-BR squad. Along with the two hurdling events, he’s also one of the top high jumpers.

Gavin, however, has really come on late in his career. He had run the 300 since joining the team, but his tall, lanky frame led Burks to also place him in the 110 last season. Since then, he's continued to improve.

“To start the season, he was struggling in both hurdle events, and after a couple meets, he really has gotten things together,” Burks said. “His run in the 110s on Saturday was a very steady, very strong race. We’re hoping he can continue to knock that time down a little bit and continue to be a major player in that event.”

While the team as a whole struggles, Gavin and McNanna are thriving. And if they keep on winning, their main challengers might just be each other.

“In some of the smaller meets, there’s not a lot of entries in that event,” Burks said, “and to know that meet in and meet out you’re going to have somebody that is going to be competitive in the lane next to you is a good challenge for those two, and I think they embrace that.”

• Luke Srodulski is a contributor to the Daily Chronicle. Write to him at sports@daily-chronicle.com.

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