Standing near the finish line at Homewood-Flossmoor's newly-christened Dick Beebe Track Classic, Vikings coach and son of the event's namesake Nate Beebe shouted across the infield to a runner finishing his post-race cool-down.
"Hey Matt," he said. "Nice finish."
Matt Anyiwo smiled, then held his hands in front of his chest, about six inches apart,
"It was a tight gap to get through," he said.
Anyiwo, fifth entering the back stretch of the 800 meters, second halfway through the turn and fourth perhaps 30 yards from the finish, snuck past Stanford-bound distance ace Jack Keelan of St. Ignatius to win the event. With wind-chill readings hovering in the 30s, the time of 1 minute, 59.55 seconds was less impressive than the statement he made by chasing down Keelan (1:59.63).
"I'm confident I can kick anybody down," Anyiwo said. "I'm not trying to sound cocky about it, but… "
Anyiwo, a junior, qualified for state last year but failed to reach the finals. Beebe sees a state championship in his future, "If not this year, I think definitely next year."
"It's a learning experience for him every time out," Beebe said. "He's still a junior. He hasn't had many big races.
"He knows his capabilities. He just has to try a few different race plans."
Anyiwo also anchored H-F's winning entry in the 3,600 relay. Austin O'Donoghue, King Bryant and Prestunn Bolton rounded out the quartet, which won the last race of the day in 3:30.92 to secure the team title for the Vikings (100 points) over Merrillville (96) and St. Ignatius (89).
Merrillville was led by Austin Jamerson, who won the long jump (22-8) and high jump (6-4) while finishing second in the 110 high hurdles. They also got a 1-2 finish in the discus from Jeff Colby (146-6) and Josh Haynes (145-9) and a 2-3 finish in the pole vault from Garrett Ferrell (11-6) and Jacob Styx (11-0).
Thornwood captured the 3,200 relay with a time of 8:25.59. The Thunderbirds did so without last year's state runner-up in the 400, Kenneth Allen, who was one of several top athletes given the day off.
Thornwood's relay quartet included Wole Daramola, Khalil Lightbourne, Reggie Brown and Deonta Pittman.
Crete-Monee got wins from Rasheed Flowers (42.03) in the 300 hurdles and the 800 relay team of Elijah Douglas, Quinten Nash, Marcus Terrell and Raphael Vallot (1:31.88).