HARVEY | At Thornton, track success isn’t determined by dual meet or invitational success. It all comes down to the state meet.
If Saturday’s Thornton Classic was any indicator, the Wildcats are ready to make a run to the finals.
JoWahn Brown set the tone for the Wildcats as he won the long and the triple jumps.
Then the Wildcat sprinters took over. Thornton amassed 141 points to defeat nearest-rival Evanston by 23 points. The Wildcats managed a top-2 finish in all but one sprint event and were in the top 3 in all the jumps.
"The calendar hit May and they turned it on, they are ready to roll," Thornton coach Vince McAuliffe said. "They showed that you shouldn’t count us out, we’re here to stay."
Taking his cue from Brown’s performance in the jumps, Tifonte Hunt led the way on the track winning the 110-meter hurdles and the 200 dash as well as running a leg on the victorious 400 relay.
"I think I ran pretty good today, there was strong competition here so I had to work hard to win,” Hunt said. “It’s all about state right now, I just want to keep working hard and stay healthy."
McAuliife said it was a tremendous team effort.
"They came in and did their job as a team and didn’t let each other down," McAuliffe said. "That's the kind of effort that will carry them the rest of the season.”
Thornton wasn’t the only local team getting ready for a postseason run as Homewood-Flossmoor held off a late Thornwood charge to take third place with 91 points to the Thunderbirds' 79.
"We had some nice performances today so that was good but we had some let downs as well," Vikings coach Nate Beebe said. "Better to have them today than two or three weeks from now, we hope to send several guys down state and make some noise this year."
While Thornton and Homewood-Flossmoor used the meet to fine tune things for the sectionals, Thornwood coach Brian Evans said he used it to get some of his seniors a final day on the track and to give some of his younger runners a taste of some high-level competition.
Thornwood's Khalil Lightbourne and Matthew King went 1-2 in the 1,600 to put pressure on Homewood Flossmoor heading into the last two events of the day.
"We decided to rest some guys, we’re five days from the conference meet so we’re not trying to over-do it," Evans said. "We just wanted to get through the day healthy.
"For some of our seniors this will be the last meet they run and we wanted to get them on the track, for the younger guys it’s good prep for state to see this level of competition and see what the big pond looks like."