The one-year plan for the OPRF boys track and field team to "bring home some hardware for Hasso" came to fruition over the weekend.
OPRF seniors Carl Heinz and Malachy Schrobilgen won state titles in the high jump and 3200-meter run, respectively, powering the Huskies to a third-place state finish with 42 team points under the guidance of head coach Tim Hasso.
"Three hundred and sixty-five days ago, Malachy and I were sitting in the [Eastern Illinois University] dorm room with our medals," Heinz said, "and we decided we were going to bring home some state hardware for [OPRF head coach Tim] Hasso. We feel really good about what we accomplished because the team dynamic was so incredible this season."
Heinz led the Huskies' charge by repeating his state championship performance in the high jump, this time with a 7-1 jump to edge out Marmion's Peter Stefanski, who scored a 6-10. The Duke-bound Heinz also recorded a strong fifth-place showing in the triple jump with a mark of 46-8.50.
"Last year, winning the [high jump] was too easy," Heinz said. "This year, I jumped three inches higher and the competition was tougher. I thought there were at least three guys with a shot to win the high jump. In the triple jump, I knew I had to step it up with a PR and get some points for our team. Seeing the other guys perform so well fired me up."
For motivation, Heinz needed look no further than his best friend Schrobilgen. The Huskies' outstanding distance runner who will run track next season at Wisconsin won the 3200 meter run with a time of 9:03.42. He also netted third place in the 1600-meter run, timing out at 4:14.17.
"I really wanted to win the ," said Schrobilgen, who finished second in the event last year to Jack Driggs of York. "One kid took the race out hard, but coach [Hasso] told me to put a move on when the time was right. It's an awesome feeling what we accomplished as a team. Even though Carl and I compete in totally different events, we push each other. I feel like if he's having a good day in his events, I am going to have a good one as well."
The Huskies' depth was on full display Saturday. Fellow senior Evan Fisher clocked in at 1:55.98 in the 800 to secure eighth place, while the 4 x 100 relay team of sophomore Jamal Baggett, sophomore Lionel Towns, junior Zach Booth and junior Tariq Taylor finished state runner-up with a time of 42.19 seconds behind Dunbar (41.92). The group will return next spring as preseason favorites to win the event.
"Our coaching staff was awesome and everybody was on top of their game," Heinz said about the Huskies' strong state showing. "We knew we had the potential to achieve big things. The team just grew as the season went along, and it's a great feeling to come through as a team."
Lake Park won the Class 3A team title with 48 points followed by Edwardsville (42), OPRF (41), Dunbar (30) and Cary-Grove (26).