Mother Nature turned up the heat on Vorn Ellis and the rest of the competitors Friday at the Central Suburban League South division track and field meet at Maine South.

But the Evanston senior sprinter was hotter than hot.

Ellis turned in a couple of state qualifying times on his way to individual titles in the 400-meter and 200-meter dashes and also anchored Evanston’s relay to a victory in the 1600 in a courageous display of stamina that earned him a trip to the emergency room at the end of a long, hot night.

Severe dehydration led to an ambulance ride for Ellis, but not before he had helped restore some pride for a program still feeling wounded after losing the indoor league championship meet to rival Glenbrook South.

Ellis’ determined effort Friday couldn’t lift the Wildkits any higher than third place in the team standings at an outdoor championship that they usually dominate. Evanston scored six first place finishes but totaled only 117 points, behind Glenbrook South (158) and New Trier (139) and ahead of Niles West (68), Maine South (54) and Glenbrook North (21).

Ellis registered career-best performances in the 400 (49.07 seconds) and 200 (22.33) and was still able to muster a sizzling split of 50.72 at the end of the 1600 relay, holding off New Trier’s anchor for a win in 3:27.29.

Evanston also counted wins from Matt Cless in the high jump (1.98 meters, or 6 feet 6 inches), Jalen James in the triple jump (13.21 meters, or 43-4), and Tim Russell in the discus (47.48 meters or 157 feet, a personal best and better than the Illinois High School Association state qualifying standard).

“Vorn Ellis was the best performer here today, and he saved the day for Evanston, no question about it,” said veteran ETHS head coach Don Michelin Sr. “The problem is that he had to expend so much energy for all that excellence. He’s been a superstar athlete for us all year and this is what he’s able to do, and this is what he was willing to do. Was it too much to ask? Maybe.”

The ETHS senior didn’t think so even after spending a couple of hours in the ER receiving IV fluids to restore his strength.

“I was already exhausted when it came down to the 4 by 400, and down that last straightaway I just gave it everything I had in the tank,” Ellis recalled. “I think I might have blacked out for a second or two [after the race]. But I’m OK now.

“Mentally I had the drive today to do a good job and get a PR [personal record]. I was driven to do better. I’m not the biggest guy [5-foot-7, 138 pounds] but I have a determination to do better than the guys I run against.”

Ellis ran track as a freshman, but COVID-19 interrupted his sophomore year and he chose not to compete last year.

He changed his mind for his final year of high school and the Wildkits reaped the benefits of that decision on Friday.

“In practice, I try to have the same mindset as I’d have in a meet, although I try not to overdo it,” he explained. “It’s a slow process, but I just tried to take things day by day and tried to keep exceeding my goals. I was really good at sports as a freshman, and I wanted to give it another try, to see how much I could improve and to see where that could get me.”

Ellis lived up to his No. 1 seed in the 400, whipping New Trier runnerup Ronan O’Neill by a margin of 49.07 to 49.80 in the one-lap race. But he was only seeded third in the open 200, and poured it on in the last 20 meters to surge to a win in 22.3 over Jack Brewer of New Trier (22.51) and pre-meet favorite Noah Shapiro of Glenbrook South (22.58).

He then combined with teammates Miles Granjean, Skyler Lee and Jordan Crumpton to rule the final relay.

“I didn’t want to lose to anyone in the last 200 I’ll probably run,” Ellis said. “We needed the points and I was really ticked off that we weren’t getting the results we needed. I just left it all out on the track.”

As expected, the Wildkits dominated the field events as Cless, James and Russell lived up to their No. 1 seeds in their respective specialties.

But the day was just a mixed bag for Russell despite his discus triumph. The senior southpaw fouled on all three of his shot put attempts and didn’t make the finals in an event where he was also the top seed.

Also scoring top five individual finishes for ETHS were Cless, second in the 100 (11.13) and fourth in the 200 (22.73); Granjean, third in the 400 (50.76); Justin Tharayil, third in the triple jump (12.20) and fifth in the shotput (12.22); Lee, fourth in the 300 hurdles (41.11); Chase Cubia, fourth in the long jump (6.04); and Julian Weber, fifth in the 110 hurdles (17.49).

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