Senior Patrick Diakite joined the Oak Park and River Forest High School boys track and field program as a sophomore simply to be a high jumper.
Then a few events got added.
Actually, a lot of them.
“Somehow I got snagged into doing hurdles, which I took seriously, and then just this year I started doing triple jump,” Diakite said. “I’m pretty much all over the place.”
For his final high school meet, Diakite is back solely in high jump. He qualified for his first IHSA Class 3A state meet at the Proviso East Sectional on May 19 with a first-place 1.90 meters (6 feet, 3 inches) that helped the Huskies win their eighth consecutive sectional with 182 points.
OPRF advanced 12 entries to state on May 26-28 at Eastern Illinois University with top-two sectional finishes.
Senior Ian Kelley swept the 110-meter high hurdles (lifetime best 14.84) and 300 intermediate hurdles (39.93).
Sophomore Kaden Garland swept shot put (lifetime-best 16.53m/54-2.75) and discus (43.09m/141-4).
Junior Josh Meister (4.00m/13-1 in pole vault), the 400 relay (sophomore Liam Moroney, junior Elijah Mowatt, sophomore Kevin McGovern, freshman Caleb Schulz in 43.44) and 1,600 relay (sophomore Santiago Valle, senior Leo Rooney, Mowatt, senior Derrick Reed in 3:27.24) also were first.
Seniors Nzube Nwafo (6.74m in long jump) and Lou Delano (800 in 1:58.21), the 800 relay (Moroney, Mowatt, Schulz, McGovern in 1:30.52) and 3,200 relay (juniors Roan Egan and Owen Augustine, senior Ryan Leonard, Delano in 7:56.76) advanced with second-place finishes.
Top-nine state finishers earn all-state medals and score team points.
“The things that we said we need to get downstate to have a chance to do anything as a team, we got those events down,” OPRF coach Tim Hasso said.
Kelley was 12th in the 300 hurdles at 2021 state (41.34). Kelley ran the No. 8 fastest 110 hurdles sectional time on May 20 and was sub-15 seconds for the first time.
“I knew right when I got past the finish line that I broke 15. I loved that,” Kelley said.
As a freshman, Garland was 19th in shot and 21st in discus at state last year. The past two meets he’s thrown lifetime bests in shot.
“I’ve gained eight feet in the last year so it’s crazy, and the year before another 10 feet so I’ve just gotten a lot stronger,” Garland said.
Moroney returns from the all-state second-place 400 relay and fourth-place 800 relay. Meister, Augustine and Rooney (1,600 relay) and Augustine and Delano (3,200 relay) also were state competitors.
Because of COVID restrictions, last year’s state meet was one day with no preliminaries.
“Not that it wasn’t such a great event but it’ll be a more ‘real’ state meet,” Delano said. “Senior year, all I’ve been thinking about is state, state, state.”
State might not be the end for Diakite. His versatility has generated college interest as a decathlete.
“Literally, all they’d have to teach [Diakite] is pole vault,” Hasso said. “He’s definitely trending in the right direction. He’s worked really hard.”
Friars send relay, 7 individuals to state
The Fenwick High School boys track and field team placed third in its own IHSA Class 2A sectional at Concordia University in River Forest with 103 points.
The Friars advanced one relay along with seven individuals to the state meet, which will be held at Eastern Illinois University May 26-28.
Junior Grayden Rill had an impressive day, qualifying in three events. He won the 1,600 meters with a time of 4:39.70, placed second in the 800 meters (2:09.22) and ran the anchor leg on Fenwick’s winning 3,200 relay, teaming up with Lee O’Bryan, Carl Lukas, and Dean O’Bryan (8:29.08).
The Friars had two others who were victorious. Senior Lee O’Bryan won the 800 with a time of 2:07.88, and sophomore Nate McKillop won the 3,200-meter race with a personal best 9:50.40.
Other Fenwick state qualifiers are sophomore Dean O’Bryan (2nd in the 1,600, 4:47.52); senior Zac Daley (2nd in the 3200, 9:58.16); and junior Will Shannon (2nd in the triple jump, 13.05 meters).