CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Dorian Simmons is a perfectionist, a trait that comes in handy during a one- or two-mile run.
Those, metrically measured as 1,600 and 3,200 meters, are Simmons' distances for Bloom Township's track team. In Wednesday's Southland Conference championship meet, Simmons came through in what to outsiders appeared to be perfect fashion.
Simmons, a savvy senior, measured his pace to beat Crete-Monee junior Bryce Stluka in the 3,200, then outran him down the stretch to capture the 1,600.
"I just hard to work harder (in the 1,600)," Simmons said. "It was good competition."
That brought Bloom 20 points to Crete-Monee's 16, Simmons' piece of the margin in the Blazing Trojans' 67-point victory over the Warriors for the conference crown, Bloom's third in succession.
Simmons was pleased with that, but saw considerable room for improvement before next week's Class 3A sectional meet, where state finals berths will be on the line.
"This feels good, but I still could have done better," Simmons said. "Tomorrow's another day."
Casual observers couldn't see how Simmons might have run better, given his two-lap duel at the end of the 3,200 in which he twice answered Stluka's taking the lead. But he pointed to sub-par training in recent days as something to clean up.
"Next week in the sectional, I've got to work a lot harder," Simmons said. "I've got to get back in shape, got to improve my turnover and make better decisions. I've got to come to practice more on time, and focus on doing the workout to its entirety. And Coach (Andrew Schmitt) is going to critique me to the best."
Simmons was the only athlete to win two races, but Crete-Monee's Rasheed Flowers won the 300-meter hurdles and took second in the 110 hurdles, while Bloom's James Harriel won the 400, led off the 400-meter relay and was runner-up in the 100 and the long jump, and Rich South's David Benissan won the discus and was second in the shot put.
Harriel, a junior ran on relays at state as a sophomore, and who starred at the Glenbard West meet a fortnight ago, edged Crete-Monee's Quinten Nash by a hundredth of a second in taking the 400 in 49.95 seconds. That's also one-hundredth off the automatic state Class 3A qualifying time of 49.94 seconds.
"I felt a little tight," said Harriel, who has struggled with injuries to his left thigh and knee in recent weeks. "I didn't know for sure (that he was healthy). I took some medicine, put pain reliever on it and just ran."
Crete-Monee senior Quenton Hardaway won the 100 in 11.04 to Harriel's 11.14.
"I listened to my coach and put my chest up," Hardaway said. "It felt amazing. I did it when it counts, so I'm pretty happy."
Hardaway was third in the 200, but neither he nor any other runner hit the automatic qualifying times in either the 100 or 200 that would guarantee a trip downstate at next week's sectional. As Simmons said, there's work yet to be done.