ORLAND PARK | Many things can go wrong in a 300-meter hurdle race. A runner can trip over a hurdle, run into the wrong lane on the curve, get a bad start, or fade at the finish.
Yemi Ogunbameru did everything right at the Pete Struck Classic at Sandburg on Thursday night. The Thornridge speedster won the 300 in 39.73 seconds, flying all the way, and especially at the start.
He beat chief rival Rasheed Flowers out of the blocks by an instant, but in the 300, an instant can make all the difference.
"It can always be better, but in sprinting, one thing I know is you have to get out of the blocks fast," Ogunbameru said. "If you win or lose, it starts right at the blocks."
Ogunbameru was more than a step ahead of Flowers at the first hurdle, and extended his lead from that point. Flowers was a solid second, but never challenged Ogunbameru.
"As soon as I got to the straightaway, I knew I had a lot of energy," Ogunbameru said. "I was able to PR, so I knew I had him. Out of the blocks, I tried to keep my head, keep calm, just execute my plan."
Ogunbameru couldn't recall his previous best time, but knew that 39.73 was a number worth hanging on the board. It was off the meet record of 37.43 set by Thornridge's Gary Ford two years ago, but Ford's clocking was by hand, while Ogunbameru's was electronically timed.
That was Ogunbameru's second big finish of the night. He came from behind to beat Sandburg's Dan Huff in the 110-meter hurdle final, running in 15.03 seconds to Huff's 15.05. Thornridge's Nick Fizer was third, in 15.17 seconds. (Fizer took second in the 200, losing to Rich South's Brian Mays in the 200, 22.75 to 22.76.)
Sandburg won the meet with 124 points, but Thornridge was a solid second, piling up 70 points in a fashion that may go a long way toward predicting the Falcons' performance in the SouthWest Suburban Red Conference meet in a fortnight.
Thornridge's Philip Thompson was also a winner, capturing the triple jump with a leap of 44 feet, 4.75 inches, while Kiente Geiger came up a step short of Hillcrest's Moshood Adeyemo in a vibrant 400-meter final.
Thompson's performance, which included a relay stint, was impressive considering he's working through a groin pull. On a cool evening when things can go wrong quickly, Thompson's big leap was solid.
"I just wanted to get a good mark in," said Thompson, who skipped his fourth jump after hitting big on the third. "It was all right. The season's been good, despite the injury. I just try to get a good warmup in."
Geiger led the fast heat of the 400 until the final 50 meters, when Adeyemo overhauled him. Geiger blamed that on technique, or lack thereof.
"My muscles were tight and I had my chin up," Geiger said. "My chin was down for the first 50 meters (of the home straightaway), but afterwards, I guess I let fatigue get to me. Chin down is better. You can keep it there, but it takes focus."
Adeymeo finished in 50.89, Geiger in 51.55, so the focus wasn't far off. And now, Geiger's focus is ahead.
"I'll see him again," Geiger said. "Sectional."
Crete-Monee took second in the 1,600-meter relay, and third in the 400- and 800-meter relays, the Warriors' best finishes along with Flowers' second in the 300 hurdles.