LANSING | For a generation, Illiana Christian has been known as a school that turns out distance runners on a steady basis. It's not quite the factory that York is, but for its size, Vikings running quickly for a mile or more have been a common sight in the spring.
Now, along comes Alvy Butler.
He's fast. He's also a sprinter. He runs for Illiana.
Saturday, the junior picked up his second and third victories in less than 18 hours, capturing the 100 and 200 at the T.F. South Invitational to go with a triumph in the 100 at the York Invitational on Friday night.
Aside from a loss in the Illinois Top Times indoor meet in Bloomington at the end of March, Butler has won every race he's been in this season.
Saturday's times, albeit with a howling wind aiding his trek, were 10.98 seconds in the 100 final and 22.45 seconds in the 200 final. If repeated in the Class 2A sectional, Butler would earn a ticket to the state championship meet.
This, plus anchoring the 400 relay, was accomplished with a right hamstring that was just annoying enough for him to be told by head coach Jeff White to go easy down the stretch on a chilly day.
"I kinda cruised in at the end," Butler said of his effort in the 100 final. "I didn't lean at the end, but I won."
What will he be like when he's healthy?
"I hope to break 11 and get into the 22s (non-wind aided)," Butler said. "I'm a lot stronger than I was last year. Last year, I couldn't finish my 200s at all. I would always die out the last 30 meters. This year, I'm finishing strong. I open up my stride."
Butler's assault on the clock was only one of the highlights for Illiana. The Vikings won eight of the 17 events, yet finished second to Riverside-Brookfield, which took only a pair of relays, but had depth across the board. Illiana's winners included triple jumper Bryan Perschbacher, brothers Nick and Tony Wondaal in the 1,600 and 800, respectively, and Nick Fiene (10:11.17), who led Colin DeYoung (10:16.55) across the line in the 3,200.
Additionally, Kevin Vroegh's 52.84 captured the 400, capping a fortnight that saw him break a 37-year-old meet record in the 800 in Michigan last week and lower the school record to 1:55.87 at the same distance at York on Friday night.
"I'd like to be in the low 1:50s, maybe 1:52, by the end of the season," Vroegh said. "That's my ultimate goal."
Those names are familiar thanks to the Vikings' cross-country exploits, including last fall's state Class 2A runner-up effort in Peoria. But putting up winning numbers in nearly half the events in a six-team meet may be a harbinger of what's to come on the track.
Adam Kessler came through in the shot put for the host Rebels, winning with a top effort of 49 feet, 7 inches. Highland's Seth Hardy won the high jump at 6 feet, while Quin Posey and Eric Rentchler went 1-2 in the discus, Posey's throw of 141-7 outdistancing Rentchler by a little over 17 feet on a tough day to throw.