No one would confuse the current edition of the Evanston track and field team with the deepest squads coached by Don Michelin over his tenure with the Wildkits.

But Evanston’s depth surfaced and delivered an unexpected team title Friday night at the Red Grange Invitational hosted by Wheaton Warrenville South.

In a meet format that always rewards depth – schools enter individuals in three different flights per event – the Wildkits got individual victories from eight different competitors and rolled to the team championship in the 18-team field. Despite not entering the pole vault or the 3200-meter relay, ETHS piled up 184 points to 138 for runner-up York.

It marked the first time since the Kits earned back-to-back meet titles in 2014 and 2015 that Evanston has emerged as the team champion at the prestigious event.

Bad weather no problem

Chilly and windy weather didn’t prevent several squad members from chalking up personal records even when they didn’t win.

Miles Granjean scored wins in the A 200 meters and A 110 hurdles as the only multiple winner for ETHS, which also counted first-place finishes from Camarius Morgan (11.54 seconds in the B 100), Skyler Lee, Jr., (11.61 in the C 100), Evan Siegel (15.97 in the B 110 hurdles), Lee Muir (42.14 in the B 300 hurdles), Elijah Gualtier (44.50 in the C 300 hurdles), Oliver Hassard (1.90 meters in the A high jump), and Jeremiah Schwartz (5.90 meters in the B long jump).

“All our guys did a great job tonight,” Michelin said. “This is a hard meet to win. Some of our performances were a little uneven, but you expect that when it’s cold like this. It was a good night for us.”

Granjean, a senior who has burst onto the Illinois track scene like a shooting star, scored wins in the 200 (22.49) and 110 hurdles (14.73) while settling for the runner-up spot behind Champaign Centennial standout Daniel Lacy in both the open 100 (11.15) and 400 (50.73).

The past week has been a bit of a whirlwind for the ETHS senior after his 13.99 hurdle time the previous weekend – in warmer weather at the Minooka Invitational – caught the attention of Division I colleges across the country and sparked plenty of interest in a talented student-athlete who carries a grade point average above 4.0.

“To tell you the truth, I’m still processing all of this,” Granjean said. “It’s been a bit overwhelming. It’s a big surprise that people are that interested in me. I’ve been wanting this since I had my first success running the 400 [last year], but you don’t know how high you can go, how high you can set your goals. I want to go somewhere I can be competitive (on the track) and get a good education. Now I have a lot of choices, and that’s good.

Personal records

“This was my first 400 of the year, and I got a PR, so I can’t be mad about that. I was hoping to get a PR in the hurdles, too, but I got caught in a pretty good headwind in that race. It was pretty cold and my hamstring was pretty tight by the time I got to the 200, but I managed to hang in there and get it done.

“The important thing is winning the meet as a team. That’s what really matters, that’s what makes this a good day.”

Michelin said Granjean skipped the 300 hurdles to add an FAT (fully automatic time) to his 400 resume for the seed meeting at the Central Suburban League South division meet in a couple of weeks.

“Miles is our leader. He’s the guy who sets the tone for us, and he’s really been very consistent in his efforts so far,” said the Evanston coach. “We’re fortunate that he’s in our program. He’s very consistent and you know he’ll be in good shape [point-wise] when he gets to the finish line.”

Hassard, a junior, is beginning to make an impact in the field events. Friday he matched his best jump at about 6 feet, 3 inches, and won on the basis of fewer misses after Josh Brown of Lake Park and Mike Prieto of Hinsdale Central also cleared that height.

No one connected to the ETHS program is describing Hassard as the next Matt Cless – not yet. But his improvement in an event he just started focusing on as a sophomore is starting to mirror that of the former state champion, and Cless’ influence is evident on the 6-foot-4, 185-pound junior.

Ascending to high jump

Hassard began his track career as a 400 runner and a shot putter – “I guess they put the biggest freshmen in the throws” – but he’s moved on to the high jump and triple jump since his sophomore season.

1.90 meters – or 6’3″ – is the Illinois High School Association minimum state qualifying mark in the high jump and he’s getting more consistent at that height every week.

“If I can do that at the sectional, I can make it to state,” Hassard said. “I’ve been in four events before [at a meet], but tonight it was different because I had to do all three jumps,” he said, referring to high, long and triple jumps, “at the same time” on the meet schedule.

“I took a few jumps in the long and triple, but then I prioritized the high jump. I think the high jump is where I have the most potential. I fell in love with it working with Matt (Cless) and Justin (Thayaril). What I like about the high jump is that there’s always another thing I can do to make myself better. That 6’3” felt good, but the motivation never stops for me.

“Matt Cless had a big impact on me. When he was jumping he always had a big smile on his face, and he was always having fun. He made me feel like I wanted to get to that place he was at and have fun, too. I feel like I’m learning in every meet how to get better in all of the jumps.”

Assistant coach Kevin Caines, who also guided Cless’ transformation from basketball to state high jump champion, is encouraged by Hassard’s progress.

“Now Oliver’s getting some attempts at 6’5″ and that’s good experience for him,” Caines noted. “He’s getting more consistent. He’s learning how to correct things for himself and I’d say he’s trending upward.”

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