MERRILLVILLE | Rain, temperatures in the 40s and even a lightning delay could not stop the home boys track team from winning the 11th annual Andrean Invitational Friday night at Father Vincent Eckert Stadium.
The host 59ers won eight of the 15 events, including the two sprint relays, and outpaced parochial rival Bishop Noll by seven points in the team standings, 158.5 to 151.5. It was the third straight team win in the event for the 59ers, who had to wait out a lightning delay that was long enough to force one of the seven teams to leave.
“We’re still trying guys at different events to get the right combinations,” Andrean coach Rick Torres said. “Some of them are making breakthroughs, and that’s what needs to continue to happen.”
Andrean’s Adam Kopil took home MVP of the field events for winning the throws. He threw 132 feet, 10 inches in the discus and 49-7 in the shot put. The disc throw was a personal-best.
“I just keep listening to my coaches and doing what I’m supposed to do,” Kopil said. “Having everyone be coached to their greatest potential and not giving up, it feels amazing to win this for a third year in a row.”
Andrean’s Richard Thiel won both hurdle events and ran on the winning 400 relay team. The victorious Andrean mile relay team included 800 winner Nick Janiga and 400 winner Zach Phillips.
Running events MVP Joel O’Shea of Wheeler had three personal bests Friday as well. He won the mile (4:37.44) and two-mile (10:06.41) races and had a PR split on his leg of the 3,200 relay, helping Wheeler to a win in the event.
“At the beginning of the season I wasn’t too strong, but I’m starting to come around,” O’Shea said. “I’m more comfortable running in the cold than in the heat. I’m running with more competition now at this time of year.”
Noll won both jumps with Donovan Hayes taking the long jump and Will Kasprzycki winning the high jump.
Hayes also won the 200, and he’s benefited greatly from the presence of first-year assistant Sam Watts, the 2005 state champ in the long jump for Noll, who jumped for Illinois State.
“(Watts) has had a great influence on us,” Hayes said. “We go to practice, and all we do is work.”
Hayes said he had to set an example as a leader for Noll.
“Even with the conditions being what they were, I had to have a big influence on the team and go out and give it my all,” Hayes said. “These are the guys we have to see at conference, sectionals and so on.”