A sprinter's row for Oak Park and River Forest track?

? Jones back to bolster short-track dominance.

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By BRAD SPENCER

The OPRF boys' track and field team used its dominance in the distance events last season to win a sectional, but the Huskies this year look as though they'll be tearing up a shorter track.

Antonio Jones has already proven to be a veritable threat in the sprinting events, racing to second in the 200 and 400-meter dashes this winter at the Illinois Prep Top Times Indoor Classic, a tournament similar to the IHSA State Finals. He also placed eighth in the 55-meter dash. Jones was OPRF's lone success story of the West Suburban (Silver) Conference Meet last year, placing second in both the 200 and 400-meter dashes, while the team finished seventh overall.

Mike Waldon also returns to the lineup to anchor the sprints, although an injury cut short his indoor season. Waldon also qualified for the Prep Top Times Classic in both the 200 and 400-meter dashes but did not compete due to a severe ankle sprain suffered during the indoor season.

"We held him out of much of the indoor season because we didn't want to risk anything," said first-year head coach Tim Hasso of Waldon. "We're hoping he'll be at full strength soon."

Brendan Murphy, Jamal Taylor and Luke Whalen are expected to lead the distance events, according to Hasso. Whalen and Taylor, both seniors, are also expected to run the 3200-meter relay and possibly the 800.

Hasso is hoping a group of sophomore throwers mixed with two seniors will help carry the field events. Chris Garner and Nick Twilley will both compete in the shot put and discus events, along with sophomores Corey Elich, Bobby Gonzales and Dan Leiner.

Leaping duties will fall on Tom Geraghty and Patrick Vazquez, who qualified in the triple and long jump at the Prep Top Times Classic. Geraghty, a sophomore pole vaulter, cleared a personal best of 12-feet during the indoor season.

Hasso, who was an assistant coach at OPRF for the past two years before taking the reigns from Scyla Murray this year, is optimistic his team can stay afloat in a competitive WSC this season. Four of the seven teams?#34;York, Downers Grove North, Hinsdale Central and Lyons Township?#34;are expected to be ranked in preseason top 20 polls.

"We should be in the middle of the pack," said Hasso.

The Huskies kicked off the outdoor season on Saturday by placing seventh with 53.49 points at the Hinsdale Central tournament. The team travels to Naperville North on Saturday (10 a.m.).

Gevitz returns with spring in her step

Kathryn Gevitz had a spring in her step this past winter that led to two second place finishes and one third place finish at the Illinois Prep Top Times Indoor Classic. Gevitz, who competes in the triple jump, the long jump and high jump, returns to an OPRF team that last season had its best finish in years at the State tournament: 16th overall.

Stocked with experienced athletes in the field events, the Huskies will try and crack the top 10 at State this season. With Gevitz, a State jumper last year?#34;her best finish was sixth in the long jump at 18-3 1/4?#34;pole vaulter Liz Wilkie and shot putter Joanne Verpil, gaining points in the field events won't be a problem. Wilkie took first place at the conference indoor meet with a vault of 10-3. Verpil, who has recovered from a hyper-extended arm injury, placed second in the shot put with a toss of 37-10. Verpil threw 38-feet during the indoor season.

Stacie Taylor and Nikeva Stapleton bring State experience to OPRF's relay events. Both were members of the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200-meter relays that finished sixth last year in the State finals. The relays haven't lost a step with the addition Sophie Elie and Danica Melton. The group won the 4 x 200-meter relay (1:48.2) at the conference indoor meet, at which the Huskies finished second at overall.

The Huskies travel to Downers Grove South today (Wednesday), before a meet at Hinsdale Central on Saturday (10 a.m.).

CONTACT: bspencer@wjinc.com

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