On May 27 and 28, the Evanston Township High School boys’ track and field team participated in the IHSA Class 3A State meet at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston with hopes of capping off their season on a high note. The Wildkits were able to do just that, as they captured 12th place by scoring 20 points in the 75 team meet with East St. Louis winning the title with 54 points.
Leading the way for the Kits was senior Roland Amarteifio, who finished in second place in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles with a time of 37.63 seconds, which was a fraction of a second behind Bellville East’s William Session who captured the top spot with a time of 37.46 seconds. The Kits’ senior also took 3rd place in the 110-meter high hurdles with a time of 14.13 seconds. Roland’s time in the 300-meter hurdles was the first of two school records he set during the meet as he also set the record in the preliminaries on May 27 when he ran the 110-high hurdles in 14.05 seconds.
“He won [two] State medals and he was instrumental in us winning a second place trophy last season,” explained head coach Don Michelin. “Then he came back this year as the leader and did an excellent job and set us up to be highly successful in the near future from his leadership.”
Coach Michelin also feels Roland was one of the most successful members the team has had and hopes Roland’s leadership rubbed off on the returning members of the team. “He has been one of the best guys we have had. When you look at the great, rich tradition of Evanston boys’ track, Roland has to be up there with those guys that have [helped Evanston win] state trophies. Roland is one of those guys.” The Coach continued, “I am hoping that his leadership will rub off on those guys coming back. We have got some good guys coming back [including juniors] Brad Garron, Brian Daniels, Michael Henry, Morgan Brown, and sophomore Jonathan Wilburn, so we have some excellent guys with some experience coming back.”
The Kits also received quality performances from Brad, who took 8th in the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.33 seconds, and the 1600-meter relay team consisting of Roland, Brad, Brian and Michael finished seventh with a time of 3:19.66.
Regarding the relay team’s performance, Coach Michelin said, “It was a good race for us. I wish we could have performed a little better, but like I said, three of those guys are back [next season]. So maybe that experience and maturity [will help them]. Sometimes you have to go get some [experience] to get a good feel for what it really is [and what it takes to win a State medal] and then come back and work toward that at a higher level.”
When asked how he felt the season went overall, Coach Michelin said, “Compared to what we did last year, I think it was pretty comparable; the only difference is last year we got second in State where we scored 37 points and this year, we scored 20. [So] it was just as good as last year except we did not get a trophy at State,” the Coach explained. “We performed extremely well [in the preliminaries but] we could not duplicate that in all slots [in the final].”
Looking ahead to next year, the coach feels his team needs to not only learn from the example Roland set, but use this season’s experiences to help them have an even better season, especially since a number of the top teams in the State have many quality members returning to their teams.
“Rolland had that maturity [because] he was down here the year before and now he [was] a senior man and now I am thinking [next year] I have three senior men [referring to the returning members of the 1600-meter relay team including Brad, Brian, and Michael] so we should even be that much better.” The Coach continued, “What Roland left us [his leadership, and what he taught the younger guys on the roster], we have got to embrace that and use that to [ensure] a higher finish next year. So Roland left us with bringing these [younger] guys along and hopefully [next year’s returning seniors] will bring the next team along, and so forth and so on.
“In looking at what is coming back, and not knowing what we will have in incoming freshmen, [those returners] will have to take it up another notch. Just looking at what East St. Louis is bringing back, what Minooka [which finished 7th in State] is bringing back, there is some tremendous depth coming back [throughout the State]. So, knowing that, we got to kick it up from a mental standpoint.”
In addition to learning from this season’s experiences, Michelin says the key to success next season is having an improved mental toughness. “The thing that we need to improve on is our mental toughness [especially when] we face adversity at that high level,” explained the Coach. “We did not seem to have a problem at Sectionals, we did not seem to have a problem in the [Central Suburban League Conference] meet, but we did seem to have a problem with everybody being together in one track meet, which was the State meet. So from that, I take away that we have to be mentally tougher.”
If the Kits can improve their mental toughness and follow in Roland’s footsteps, look for them to come back and have yet another strong showing in next season’s State meet.