May 27, 2012 - Tomkiewicz and 4 x 800 Meter Relay
Finish as All-Staters
For the first time in my career, we were able to get
All-State in two distance events on the same day. With some help
from his teammate, Marcus Garcia, Peter Tomkiewicz was able to win the
first section of the 3200 meter run in a near PR of 9:19.84. That
time stood up well against the second section and landed him eighth in the
state. After long years of struggle, my
wait to coach a 3200 meter All-Stater is over. Congrats to Peter for
running a great race and wanting it enough to get it done.
About thirty minutes later, our 4 x 800 meter relay
stepped into the final and did enough to finish an All-State ninth place.
I know that we were looking for more, but I could not be prouder to have
coached these guys and see them rebound from a sub-standard Sectional
performance to a school record and an All-State finish. Even more
exciting, the back half of or relay was made up of two juniors, Christian
Zambrano and Andrew Clingerman, who will breath even more life into the
yearly tradition we are trying to start. We may never get to the
same level as MSL brethren Prospect (All-State 8 of the last 9 years, I
think), but placing two years in a row is a big deal for us. Much of
the credit for that goes to Tim Johnson, who anchored last year and ran
two great second legs for us this year. As one of the great relay
runners of my career, he will be sorely missed. It will also be
tough to replace leadoff man Kendric Cornelius. Big Daddy "Special
K" converted up to the 800 meter distance this year, and he gave
us the leadoff speed we needed to get All-State. His impact will
live on. Following his example, we are going to have a number of
guys who can bridge the 400-800 divide from now on.
History Updates - It's always a good thing
when I get to update any of our program's history pages. I added the
4 x 800 meter relay's school record to our
All-Time 4 x 800 List. A
team of four can only place one effort on the list per season. We
managed to place three efforts on the list this year with differing lineup
combinations. I also added both the 4 x 800 relay and Peter Tomkiewicz to our
Track All-State Athletes page. This is the
our relay has earned All-State honors while Peter was our ninth All-Stater in
the 3200 meter run/Two mile.
I also updated all of the All-Time and Career lists
for athletes during my coaching tenure. Our senior 3200 meter
runners really did some damage, chalking up most of the top 15 best
performances of my tenure. On the career list, athletes get only
their best time so it is a bit easier to make that one. My big
accomplishment this year was moving over 100 different boys running under
5:00 for the 1600 meter run. How cool is that? Check out the
Video Updates - Steve Clingerman took videos
of both days. See below:
State Finals for 3200 meter run and 4 x 800 meter
State Prelims for 4 x 800 meter relay, 400 meter
dash, 1600 meter run, triple jump
IHSA State - Boys Finish All-State in Both Finals
4 x 800 meter relay
3200 meter run
400 meter dash
1600 meter run
May 20, 2012 - Boys Qualify to State in Five
Our IHSA Sectional meet at Fremd on Friday night held
its usual series of joys and disappointments. We did persevere and
qualify to Charleston in five events. Congrats to our 4 x 800 meter
relay of Kendric Cornelius, Andrew Clingerman, Zach Stella, and Tim
Johnson, both Marcus Garcia and Peter Tomkiewicz in the 3200 meter run,
Kendric Cornelius in the 400 meter dash, Tim Johnson in the 1600 meter
run, and Cam Kuksa in the triple jump. Near misses included Tim
Meincke in the 800 meter run, Cam in the 110 meter high hurdles, and
Christian Zambrano in the 1600. Zambrano actually had the race of
the night for us, but his 4:22.94 was a scant .2 of a second away from the
We qualified in the middle of the pack in most events
so we will need to raise our games next weekend. The 4 x 800 relay
ran from the lead early on, but couldn't quite hold it together in the
middle stages to get the win. Garcia and Tomkiewicz both qualified,
but they did not have their best races and will be stuck in the slow heat
of the 3200 meter run next weekend. Johnson qualified deep in the
pack and will have to improve to make the final. The good thing is
that we certainly did not drop our best races of the season in the
qualifying meet. If I could patent one thing, it would be finding a
way to run bad and qualify then run great the next week. I hope we
rebound and bring some more fire in the big one.
Cross Country Pre-Season Meeting
We will meet on Friday, June 1 to hold a
sign-up meeting and discuss our plans for summer training and next fall.
One of my goals is for every returning athlete to bring a friend or
someone else who might be interested in checking us out for the first
time. Let's find 80-90 guys who want to help us defend a state
If you can run a
mile, you can run cross country.
Palatine I-Compete 5K Run
In conjunction with the start of summer training, we
will be hosting the I-Compete 5K run at Palatine High School on Saturday,
June 2 at 5:30 pm. There will be a one mile race on the grass at
5:30 for youth runners and then a full 5K race at 6:00 pm. The race
doubles as a fundraiser for Palatine's I-Compete program and as the
kickoff event for the Palatine Youth Running Club and the boys and girls
cross country teams. Registration is $5 for the mile run and $10 for
the 5K. All proceeds will support I-Compete and our school's effort
to get more young kids involved in athletics.
Practice Schedule - Week 17
3:45 pm (Varsity)
(Van to IHSA State)
11:00 am (IHSA
History Updates - For the second straight week
our 4 x 800 meter relay put a time on the
All-Time list in that
event. This week we ran 7:55.5 (7:55.72 FAT) to slot in at #8
PHS All-Time. On Monday our F/S guys also managed to put three more
times on our lists. Graham Brown ran 2:02.4 to put himself at #4 on
the Freshman 800 list.
Much love to Coach Miller, but he got knocked one spot down the list by a
paltry .1 of a second. Our 4 x 400 meter relay, composed of Connor
McGough, Josh Mackie, Nick Cervenka, and Graham Brown, ran 3:41 and some
small change to earn the #2 All-Time Freshman spot. Last but not
least, our 4 x 100 F/S relay ran 44.8 to set a new school record.
Congrats to Kristaff Langford, Mike Nicholas, Jerome Bradley, and Chaka
Just wanted to finish with a shout out to Graham
Brown. He may not have made the varsity lineup at the end like he
wanted, but he, Tom Johnson, and Coach Miller are the only athletes in
school history to be on the 800, 1600, and 3200 meter lists for freshmen.
That is very select company in our program.
IHSA Sectional - Distance Squad Grabs Qualifiers
in Three Events (Four with Kendric)
Per usual, we qualified to state in a number of
events, but we did it despite not being anywhere near our best. I
can't quite place it. A number of our guys just lacked the normal
fire they would have in a meet of this caliber. That isn't
necessarily the worst thing. We certainly will bring a lot more heat
to the table next week when the stakes get higher. We have three to
four guys nursing some illness after the MSL/Prom weekend so I hope we got
that out of the way. Our motto has always been to get in and then
get it done. Any time we've gotten done in the Sectional, it hasn't
been pretty the next week.
4 x 800 meter relay - I expected us to perform
a lot better in this race, but it didn't quite happen that way.
Kendric got boxed in on the lead-off leg and didn't get out until the
backstretch. He put it away from there to give us a nice lead.
His 1:58.0 split was a PR, but not near what he is capable of.
Andrew Clingerman had the race in hand, but simply coughed up the ball.
He looked tight and will run with more verve when he isn't coughing his
lungs out next week. Zach Stella was his usual competitive self on
third leg, but still couldn't get us into the thick of it. Johnson
went out hard trying to catch Lake Zurich's Pat Juras, but it wasn't in
the cards. Our splits: 1:58.0, 1:59.2, 2:00.0, 1:58.2.
3200 meter run - This race ended up being a
bizarre one for our guys, and I can't quite figure out what happened.
Peter did not look himself at all and struggled to make it to state much
less secure a spot in the fast heat. He also looked tired and sick
in the days before and after the race so that and the weather may have
played into it. His 9:26 made it down, but was far below our common
expectations. Marcus Garcia rallied nicely to finish third in a time
of 9:24.02, but that time was the first one left out of the fast heat.
They will have to run together from the slow heat and try to do something
extraordinary the last time they ever get to race together.
800 meter run - Tim Meincke had a golden
opportunity not just to qualify to state in a diluted field, but also to
re-secure a spot on the 4 x 800 meter relay. His 2:01 time didn't
quite get that done, but he did place third and showed he is rebounding
from the strep throat that kept him out of school through the beginning of
the week. Hopefully he can show a return to form in practice and
become a factor again for next weekend. Andrew Clingerman doubled
back from the relay and did well to place sixth.
400 meter dash - Kendric had not run the 400
meters much this season after an earlier 800 meter leg so I had no idea
what to expect here. His pride simply took over, and he ran himself
by the qualifying standard in the last fifty meters through sheer will.
Watching him kneel on the infield in tears of joy after the race was a
highlight moment for me. He has run so well for the team this season
that I didn't quite grasp what he wanted for himself.
1600 meter run - The field in this one was
stacked, but it was diluted a bit when Barrington's Erik Peterson
scratched after running his qualifier in the 3200. Still, the race
was jumping from the start. Tim Johnson got off to an early lead and
did the early pace pushing through splits of 61, 2:07. From there he
just hung on, dying in the third lap, but kicking like a senior in the
last 100 meters to run 4:21.7 and get it done. In the process he
towed Christian Zambrano to a stunning PR, but that run ended .2 of a
second from a state berth. His 4:22.7 was one of the best times I've
ever had a junior run and indicates what kind of future Christian has if
he keeps up his work ethic and his passionate racing. His great race
did earn him the consolation prize of a 4 x 800 spot in the prelims next
4 x 400 meter relay - This race was a weak one
in our Sectional, vulnerable if the athletes were ready. We probably
erred a bit by allowing Clingerman to run the 800 meters, but we went
after it anyway with Big Cling on leadoff. He ran 51.9 to get us
near the mid-pack. Jordan Jarrett and Rob Hank ran PRs
of 51.9 and 53.1 respectively, but those splits put us at a huge deficit.
Kendric was 40-50 meters out of it at this point, but his anchor leg said
everything about his depth of commitment to the team. He ran a 48.7
anchor split to get us to 3:25.7 and within spitting distance of going to
state. It was simply one of the great efforts I have ever seen one
of our kids make, made even better by the depth of the lost cause.
Tons of faith in that young man, tons of it.
May 13, 2012 - Pirates Place Fourth at
Mid-Suburban League Outdoor Conference
It wasn't quite what we were looking for on Friday,
but our team turned in a solid fourth place showing at the outdoor
conference meet. Our crosstown rivals Fremd won the title with 106
points. Prospect (99) and Conant (91) also defeated us as we scored
76 points. We scored over our seeds, but we just didn't have the
depth to get in front of these three teams. The MSL is won with
second scorers, and we had no double-scored events outside of the distance
events. Check out the
full results on DyestatIL.
Our distance crew scored the second most distance
points behind Conant's 32 (they were second in all four distance races). On
the bright side, every guy we put on the track in the four distance events
scored. On the down side, we couldn't manage to get into the top two
of any one event and really score big. Our frosh-soph unit also ran
well. We scored 38 points with that crew and every guy scored save
Dean Roehrborn (who ran the night's biggest PR in the 800 run). All
in all, we brought enough of our "A" game to score well, but we'll have to
keep improving to get where we want to go on the state level.
Practice Schedule - Week 16
(F/S BUS to Naperville)
3:45 pm (Varsity)
6:00 am (Varsity)
(BUS to Fremd for IHSA Sectional)
Performance List Updates - All season best
performances turned in at the MSL Conference, the Hinsdale McCarthy
Invite, the Carlin Nalley Lisle Invite, the Prospect-St. Viator JV meet,
and the JV time trial are no in the
History Updates - It's always nice to add new
pieces to our program's history. Our 4 x 800 meter relay tied for
the #9 performance in
school history with the 1977 team of
Dave Kennedy, Brian Kessler,
Kevin Nikolai, and Tom Johnson. Congrats to Tim Johnson,
Zach Stella, Christian Zambrano, and Peter Tomkiewicz. We should be
poised to go even faster when Kendric and Clinger are inserted into the
lineup for the IHSA Sectional on Friday.
Marcus Garcia also moved up the list a little bit
after his courageous run to a third place in the 3200 meter run. He
gave away a great time when he tried to win the race from 1200 meters to
go, but he still managed a 9:20.6 (9:20.80 FAT) to move into
#9 All-Time, just .3
seconds ahead of his running partner Anthony Gregorio.
Video Updates - Robert Somary's dad posted a
ton of videos of the MSL Conference meet on YouTube. Check them out
and thanks to Hersey for running a great meet and providing videos.
MSL Outdoor Conference Meet - Pirates Score Solid
Across the Board
4 x 800 meter relay - We tried to steal this
one with our depth. We held Andrew Clingerman and Tim Meincke out to
run fresh in the open 800 while Kendric Cornelius rotated back to his
sprint and jump events for scoring purposes. It almost worked.
Tim Johnson couldn't quite hang with Conant's James Weaver, but his split
of 1:57.9 was a season best. Our junior inside legs then got it done
in their first varsity MSL action. Zach Stella had repaired our
entire deficit by 400 meters and made a gutsy move to take the lead by the
600. His opening splits of 55.2 and 1:25.2 were personal bests in
their own right so the late fade was understandable. Still, he held
composure and kept it close with a PR split of 2:00.2. Christian
Zambrano has been on complete fire lately in both practices and meets, and
he kept his roll going. He gauged his pace perfectly through the 400
meters and then brought us to the lead at the final exchange with a crazy
charge in the last 100 meters. His 1:59.4 was a huge lifetime best.
Peter was a bit out of his element amid the other speedy anchors, but he
tried to win it doing what he does best. He ran rhythmically before
taking the lead just before the 500 meter mark. He held it until the
top of the stretch, but didn't have the gears to turn it over and win the
race. We ended up fourth in 7:57.60 behind his 2:00.0 split.
This run certainly bodes well for when we go full go in the next two weeks
and proves that our depth is strong.
The F/S section was actually just as inspiring as our
varsity. Amadeus Sanchez has hardly been able to run with what I
presume is a stress fracture in his shin. He asked for the stick on
leadoff anyway and ran the best race of his career. His 2:10.5 put
us right in the thick of the race in third place and gave Josh Mackie a
shot to do what he does best - compete. His 2:12.7 split was a huge
PR and showed his promise for the future. Coming home both Ryan
Kissane (2:15.5) and Ryan McCauley (2:15.7) ran right near their PRs to
get us home in fifth place with a great time of 8:54.2. I really
didn't know if this group could break 9:00, but they did their jobs well.
Scoring with our "B" relay allowed the big guns to get it done fresh in
their individual events.
3200 meter run - With speedy senior rivals
Erik Peterson and Tyler Schneider lined up against us we knew this one
would be a difficult task. Both guys simply have more finishing
speed than Marcus and Tony so they have to be broken before the late
stages. That's not an easy task since both are strong and
competitive in their own rights. The full field was absolutely
loaded with Tony's 9:42 seed being second to last in the whole field.
Before we ran, we owned up to the truth that this would be Tony's last
race. He has come back from mono as quickly and as decisively as you
can, but he simply can't beat Marcus and Peter out for the two IHSA
Sectional spots. I asked him to bundle up all of his years of moxie
and pride to find a way to score one last time for the team.
Right from the gun, Schneider did what we expected:
he got out front and went to his monster rhythm. He, Peterson, and
Marcus hit the quarter at 63 and never looked back. Basically, the
field had to choose at the 200 meter mark whether they wanted to go with
the pace. No one else made the choice. The splits were pretty
nasty throughout: 2:10, 3:22, 4:32, 5:42. Marcus and I had
pre-determined that no matter what the pace was, he was going to crank it
at three laps to go and try to shake the race to pieces. He shot as
hard as he could off of that pace and managed to string it out for a bit.
Peterson rallied immediately and by 300 meters later so had Schneider.
It was just hanging on from there. Marcus suffered terribly but
still held his poise and finished third in a PR of 9:20.80 FAT.
Behind him, Tony Gregorio ran one of the best races
of his storied career at Palatine. A two-time state track qualifier
with no options next week, he bundled up his considerable pride and got it
done. I shuddered when he took the lead of the second group just
past the mile mark. He has been getting dropped badly in practice by
his teammate and I couldn't believe such a move would last, especially off
of a 4:37 opening pace. He did his best to score big, holding fourth
place until the final 200 meters, but Schaumburg's Evan Prizy and one
other runner snuck in front of him. Still, I will always remember
his toughness - 9:26.4 just four weeks after being diagnosed with mono.
A fighter to the end.
In the F/S section, we ran great. Graham Brown
was attempting the 3200-1600 double for the first time ever so I asked him
just to run for the win. The pace crawled as a result. The
entire top pack of ten hit the 1600 meter mark at 5:04. It finally
picked up some after that, but it didn't really get going until the last
800 meters when Buffalo Grove's Steven Salvano and Graham finally decided
to let it out. Salvano held him off until 300 meters to go, but
Graham dropped a 61 second last lap to run away with the win in 9:50.
His hesitance to take the pace also set the race up perfectly for Emil
Kozakiewicz. Emil doesn't have big speed, but he loves to run
negative splits off of manageable paces. He ran 10:04.7 to place
fourth overall and set a huge new PR. That time equals, nearly to
the tenth, what Peter Tomkiewicz ran in the same meet as a sophomore.
Let's hope Emil keeps progressing at the same rate!
800 meter run - We gave away some big points
by holding two 800 meter guys out fresh for this race rather than running
them in the 3200 relay. Some years we catch the field napping and
some years we don't. This year it wasn't in the cards.
Clingerman and Meincke both scored, but fifth and eighth was not nearly
the payoff we were looking for paced on the tactics we chose.
Clinger ran solid, finishing in 1:58.6, but he didn't achieve the
breakthrough performance he was looking for. Meincke got caught up
in a shoving match and jockeying for position and it cost him. He
faded to eighth in the stretch.
In the F/S section, both Dean Roehrborn and Connor
McGough ran to new PRs. Dean has been enthusiastic as always lately
so I made a spot for him in the meet. He was our only guy not to
score, but his 2:19.6 was a huge drop from his 2:26 PR. Connor
continued to show that he will be a star in the future. Recent PRs
of 4:46 and 10:41 indicated that he was also ready to drop time in his
best event. He competed like mad in the final 100 meters to hold off
a charging field and finish third in a new best of 2:05.7. That is
the #4 frosh 800 meter time since I took over in 2002.
400 meter dash - Now that he is an honorary
member of the distance crew, I've got to show our love for Kendric
Cornelius. He won his first conference title behind a 49.82 effort
in this race. It is incredible that he will bring that kind of speed
to our 4 x 800 relay in the coming weeks. This race combined with
his third place finishes in the long jump (20' 11"), 200 meter dash
(23.2), and 4 x 400 meter relay to add up to 28 points. He ran 49.9
only 15-20 minutes after competing in the 200 meter dash. For that,
he was most certainly our team MVP of the night. I couldn't be any
prouder of his enthusiasm for our team and for the mental toughness he has
developed over the course of this season.
1600 meter run - The varsity 1600 was as
loaded as it has ever been at the MSL meet. There were five guys who
have run 4:30 or better in the slow heat. That left a great heat of
twelve, but as usual the amount of guys doubling slowed it down. I
think only Fremd's Harry Winter and Prospect's Quentin Schaffer took the
track fresh, and it wasn't a coincidence that both men scored. The
pace crawled through the halfway mark in 2:12 when Tim Johnson decided to
go for the lead. He made a huge move to gap the field and string it
out, but Conant's Schneider got back on top of him by the time they took
the gun. I applauded the move, but it cost us in the score as Tim
faded to fifth. Peter never looked comfortable and struggled to a
sixth place finish. Not the points we were looking for. Simply
In the F/S Graham tried his hardest to complete the
double. He enjoyed a spirited dual with Hersey's Jack O'Neil through
the last 1000 meters and the two gunned it nearly side by side through the
last lap. He ended up finishing second with a solid time of 4:36.7.
Not bad on the back end of a double for the first time ever. Behind
him, Eddie Graham ran one of the great races of my career. He has
shown great fitness all year, but this was without a doubt the result he
was looking for. He made strong and determined moves to get into the
right running group and then closed the last 200 like a madman to place
fourth in a huge PR of 4:39.0. A year and a half ago, he ran 5:55 in
his first cross country time trial. Now he is nearly as fast as
Marcus and Tony were as sophomores.
4 x 400 meter relay - A number of our distance
guys played key roles in the closing relays of the day. Connor
McGough anchored the F/S in 55.7. Our varsity was composed of four
members of our mid-distance group and finished third in 3:28.96 behind
solid splits from Jordan Jarrett (53.1), Rob Hank (53.7), Andrew
Clingerman (51.9), and Kendric (49.9).
November 5, 2011 - Palatine Pirates Win the IHSA
It is a Palatine tradition to hold a Recognition
Assembly for any team that wins a state trophy. My wife filmed the entire assembly, and you can watch
it on YouTube. Below you can find part one and then I posted links
to Parts 2 and 3. Enjoy our moment along with us.
News Updates - I did a long interview with
Mike Newman down at Detweiller after the race, and he compiled some of my
a nice story. Thanks so much, Mike, for the fun interview and for
being as much of a running junkie as I am. I really enjoyed talking
together throughout the year about all things cross country. Alan
Sutton also published a nice piece about us on
his blog at BigSutty.Com. Also, check out the newspaper stories
The Daily Herald,
The Chicago Tribune, and
The Chicago Sun Times. Mike Newman has also posted
his recap on DyestatIL. It's right below Bob Geiger's recap of
the girls race.
Video Updates - As usual Steve Clingerman
delivers with another great YouTube video of the race and the post-race
celebration. Thanks Steve!
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