The record crowd that squeezed its way into Willie May Field House Friday night for the Central Suburban League South division boys indoor track championship meet didn’t know that history was about to be made.
But somewhere the man who the facility was named for – a former Olympic hurdler and Big Ten champion himself – was smiling.
Evanston senior Miles Granjean won both hurdles races, and added two more individual wins for good measure to become the only competitor in program history to win four races in a single CSL South championship indoor meet.
Granjean turned in gold medal efforts in winning the 55-meter dash (6.65 seconds), 50-yard high hurdles (7.42), 55-meter low hurdles (7.59) and 200-meter dash (23.64) and led Evanston to a second-place finish in the team standings.
And the former hockey player accomplished all that in just his second season in the sport. A chronic wrist injury forced Granjean to give up his first love, hockey, last year and now he’s embracing a new sport.
In a short period of time he’s emerged as one of the leading hurdlers in the state of Illinois and will represent the Orange and Blue at the Prep Top Times meet – the unofficial indoor state championship event – next Saturday at Illinois Wesleyan University.
Evanston scored 130 points and settled for second place to New Trier (144) in the team standings for the second year in a row. But unlike last year, when the Wildkits didn’t win a single event on the track and lost the team title by one point, Friday’s performance included Granjean’s four wins plus victories by the 800 relay team of Myles Kye, Jeremiah Schwartz, Jayden Gumbs and Skyler Lee Jr. (1:3818), Kye in the long jump (6.42 meters) and Oliver Hassard in the triple jump (12.63 meters).
A lack of depth in the program this year forced veteran head coach Don Michelin to ask Granjean to take on the unusual burden of competing in four individual events. Past ETHS squads haven’t had to require so much of their top performers, but all Michelin had to do was ask – and his team captain delivered.
“I was expected to get 40 points tonight [10 per event], and I just wanted to score as many points as I could for our team,” said Granjean. “I’m just happy I got it done. It feels really great and the fact that I made history – wow! I guess it will really hit me later tonight.
“I love the hurdles so much and Coach Michelin is the one who taught me how to attack the hurdles and go really hard. It’s working well and I’m having fun doing it.”
Although they were all sprint events, Granjean also had to compete in preliminary races in both hurdles and the open 55, bringing his total to seven on a busy and historic night. And he saved his best for last, fending off a challenge from New Trier’s Sean Vibhatasilpin, with half a lap to go in the 200 race.
“I just wanted it really, really bad in the 200,” said Granjean. “I know how to run the curves here and I was just hungry for the win. I love competing and that’s why I joined the track team, to compete.
“I trained for this [four individual races] in practice this week so I knew I could do pretty well. I knew I could win the highs and the lows, but those were the only 55s I’ve run all season [prelims and finals], so that was a thrill for me to win that race. And the 200? By then, that was just a grind.
“I ran on the 4 x 400 relay at State [outdoors] last year and I wanted to do more this year. I just started hurdling in August, but back in eighth grade my main event was the hurdles and I’d always win those races. So I asked to be put back in the hurdles this year. I want to be the best and I love the hurdles so much, especially the highs.”
Michelin was happy to oblige.
“He went four for four at a high level meet like this one. He’s really something,” Michelin said after Granjean chalked up personal best times in every event. “There’s a type of inner toughness in those hockey guys and he brought it out in the 200. He just gritted down and opened up at the end of that race. He’s only been hurdling for 6 months and he’s one of the best now. He can do something special [outdoors] if he keeps his eyes on the prize.
“Miles looked fresher with each event. Is he the best hurdler in the state? Put it this way – nobody’s beaten him yet. He just dropped out of the sky last year and now he’s something special.”
Granjean’s dominant performance overshadowed a solid effort from Hassard, a junior. Hassard lost out on the high jump title on the basis of misses versus Glenbrook South’s Ryan Schaefer, as both cleared 1.85, but bounced back to rule the triple jump at a personal best 12.63 meters, or about 41 feet, 6 inches.
Also scoring top three individual finishes for the Wildkits were Kye, second in the 200 in 24.03; Jack Kleinschmit, third in the 800 in 2:05.95; and Evan Siegel, third in the low hurdles in 8.26. The 1600 relay team of Siegel, Lee Jr., Jordan Crumpton and Boaz Lieberman ran third in 3:42.19.