Carl Klamm didn’t figure to assume this much of a running burden until he was a senior.
But for the Evanston track standout, the future is now.
Klamm scored individual wins in the 800-meter and 400-meter dashes and helped the Wildkits set a stadium record in the 1600 relay Thursday at the Class 3A sectional qualifying meet at Loyola Academy.
Evanston captured the team title with 106.5 points — easily defeating Central Suburban League South division champion Niles West with 74 — in the 17-team field. More important, ETHS set the qualifying pace for next weekend’s Class 3A state finals at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, advancing 3 relay teams and also earning 7 individual spots.
The top two finishers in each event, plus those who matched or bettered existing Illinois High School Association state qualifying standards, automatically advanced.
Klamm, a junior, added the open 400 to his entry list even though head coach Don Michelin had originally planned to try that slate of events when the talented runner had another year of experience under his belt.
But some strong practice workouts — and an anchor leg of 48 plus seconds at the conference meet in the 1600 relay — convinced the veteran coach that there was no reason to hold Klamm back any longer.
Klamm won the 800, an event in which he placed 11th at last year’s state meet, in 1 minute, 55.67 seconds. He charged from dead last to take top honors in the 400 in 49.19 and finished off a 1600 relay record run started by teammates Josh Hopson, Aremon Alagheband and Ramon Hayes with an anchor leg split of 48.81. That added up to a winning relay time of 3:19.17, erasing the old stadium mark of 3:19.56 set by host Loyola back in 2009.
“Carl did some time trials that were just tremendous after the conference meet, and I’ve been talking back and forth with the Thornwood coach who did that (800, 400, 1600 relay) with one of his top athletes. I thought to myself Carl is that same type of athlete. If not now, when?” Michelin asked.
“I felt it was important for him to see that he could do this on a big stage. He knows his own body so well — it doesn’t hurt that he’s a strong cross country guy, because that base has helped with his confidence and his strength. Now I think he could be in the finals of both the 800 and 400 next week, and maybe charging down the stretch at the finish of that final relay with a chance to finish very well for us there, too.
“And he also knows how to break down other runners just when they’re at their weakest.”
“We talked about doing this at the indoor conference meet, and we’ve talked about doing it at the outdoor conference meet, but we never followed through with it,” Klamm said. “I did know Coach was planning on it for next year. I was not surprised when he told me, but then I thought to myself, that’s not a lot of rest (competing in 3 races in the final 90 minutes of most track meets).
“I was really tired before the 400. I didn’t use blocks like the others, either, and so I was dead last after about 100 meters. But it doesn’t bother me when I’m behind, because I never give up. I just inched up and inched up, and I could feel the others coming back to me. I could feel it instantly when they started to slow down, and at that point I was just getting started. I just kept going, and it paid off.”
Evanston also counted individual wins from Maalik Todd in the long jump (21 feet, 10.5 inches) and Maliq Banks in the high jump (6-3). Also claiming individual qualifying berths were Reggie Murphy, 2nd in the 100 in 11.06; freshman Brad Garron, 2nd in the 200 in 22.51; and Hopson, 3rd in the 400 in 49.92.
The Wildkits also swept to titles in the 400 relay (43.26 by Hayes, Garron, Todd and Murphy) and 800 relay (1:29.30 by Garron, Hayes, Malachi Adams and Murphy) but those wins don’t mean that Michelin won’t make some changes in the lineup by the time the Kits get to Charleston.
Indications are that Hopson might be inserted into the 800 relay unit, with Todd and junior Marcus Starks other candidates challenging for spots. Todd may switch back to the leadoff leg of the 400 after running the 3rd leg at the sectional.
“We do have some options left in all of the relays,” Michelin said. “We’ll look at it, study it to see if there are moves we can make to put us in a better position next week.”
Also scoring top 6 individual sectional finishes were non-qualifiers Todd, 4th in the triple jump at 42-5.75; Adams, 5th in the 100 in 11.31; Starks, 5th in the 200 in 23.69; Elliott Gongora, tied for 5th in the high jump at 5-11; Taj Jackson, 5th in the discus at 136-1; Ryan Christie, 5th in the 300 hurdles in 40.44; and Roland Amarteifio, 6th in the 110 hurdles in 15.63.