Oak Park and River Forest High School senior Naahlyee Bryant battled for a late, come-from-behind victory in the 200-meter dash at the West Suburban Conference Silver Division Meet on June 2 at Proviso West.
“I really liked how I finished because halfway through the race I was losing,” Bryant said.
Little did Bryant know that the comeback would play a key factor in an even bigger and historic victory for the Huskies.
Many key performances helped the Huskies capture their fourth straight West Suburban Silver Meet by just three points over Glenbard West 115-112.
Bryant’s victory by .08 seconds over Glenbard West senior and three-event champion Sean Hopkins (22.13 to 22.21) meant a four-point swing in the team standings.
“I would say the first 50 meters in that race it was quite some distance,” Bryant said. “Just to come back the last section, really the last one or two seconds of the race to win really means a lot, not just for me but for my team because without that win, you don’t know what was going to happen.”
By .05, Bryant was a second to Hopkins in the 100 (10.84 to 10.89).
According to WSC records since boys outdoor track and field was first contested in 1924, OPRF had won only three conference titles (19 meters81, 1986, 1987) before this current streak.
A varsity standout since freshman year, Bryant has been part of three, and most likely a fourth if the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t cancel all 2020 spring sports.
“I actually didn’t know [OPRF’s WSC history]. It’s especially kind of cool. It shows how much work we’ve been putting in as a team through the years, not just the current year, to get to this point, this consistency,” Bryant said.
Bryant also was the anchor for the winning 400 relay (42.12) and 800 relay (1:32.17) with seniors Ryan McFadden and D.J. Willis and freshman Liam Moroney. Senior Thano Pantazopoulos won pole vault by clearing 14 feet, 2 inches.
In another close fourth-point swing, Willis pulled out third in 100 by .07 seconds over Glenbard West’s Matt Travers (11.05 to 11.12). McFadden was fourth in the 200 (22.51).
Glenbard West, which hasn’t won a conference title since 1978, has finished second the past three times. The Hilltoppers dropped the baton in the 800 relay and were disqualified.
“It means everything [to win]. It’s a big accomplishment we made, especially with the whole pandemic,” Willis said.
Freshman Kaden Garland was second in shot put (13.53 meters/44 feet, 4.5 inches converted) and fifth in discus (36.19m/118-8¾).
In his first meet back from injury, junior Ian Kelley had a false start as the top seed in the 110 high hurdles but later finished third in the 300 intermediate hurdles (42.13). Also taking third were senior Wells Ipema (5-8 in high jump), the 3,200 relay (senior Eamon Cavanaugh, sophomore Owen Augustine, senior Ben Brandt, junior Lou Delano in 8:00.93) and the 1,600 relay (senior Emmett Perry, junior Leo Rooney, Augustine, Brandt in 3:28.24) by 1.01 ahead of Glenbard West.
Finishing 4-5 were Perry (51.91) and Rooney (53.76) in the 800 and juniors Derek Isom (16.52) and Patrick Diakite (16.62) in the 110 high hurdles. Delano (1,600 in 4:24.00) and sophomores Cole Roberson (13.41m/43-11 3/4 in shot) and Joshua Meister (12-2 in pole vault) also were fourth.
OPRF competes at the Class 3A Lane Sectional Wednesday. Top-two sectional finishers and entries that achieve state-qualifying standards at the sectional regardless of place advance to the state meet June 19 in Charleston.
Fenwick boys 4th at CCL meet
The Fenwick High School boys track and field team scored 58 points at the Chicago Catholic League meet on June 4 at Loyola Academy, good for a tie for fourth with Brother Rice.
Fenwick’s top performances included juniors Jacque Walls and Stephen Brown placing second and third respectively in the 100 meters, while sophomore Grayden Rill finished second and junior Lee O’Bryan fourth in the 1,600.
Junior Zac Daley placed third in the 3,200 meters, sophomore Will Shannon set a personal record in the triple jump while finishing third and the 400 relay of Brown, Max Reese, Joey Schultz and Walls came in second.
The Friars will compete in a Class 2A sectionals at Glenbard South on June 10.
Melvin Tate contributed to this report.