Miles Granjean ran the best 300-meter hurdle race of his short-lived track career Thursday at the Class 3A Deerfield sectional meet.
But it didn’t count.
Why? Because the Evanston Township High School senior started that race in Lane 3 – and finished in Lane 4.
Granjean was disqualified despite falling first over the finish line after clipping the final hurdle, spoiling what was otherwise a near-historic performance for the Wildkit captain.
He still punched a ticket for the Illinois High School Association state finals set for May 26-27 at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, claiming first place finishes in both the 110 hurdles and open 100 and second in the open 200.
Teammates Oliver Hassard (high jump) and Myles Kye (long jump) will also represent Evanston at state.
A misstep in the final moments of one race cost Granjean a chance to make school history. No other ETHS runner, not even Hall of Famers like Robert McGee or Howard Jones, has ever qualified for state in four individual events in the same year.
Granjean wasn’t quite up to the task.
“I hit that last hurdle, opened my eyes and I was on the ground. But I was right there over the finish line,” Granjean said. “I thought I was fine because I crossed the line. But I landed in another lane.
“It is what it is. It hurts There’s nothing I can do about it now. I did what I could, but it’s my biggest disappointment ever. Now I just have to finish my season strong.”
Granjean was on his way to a clocking in the 37-second range, and had the runner who owned the state’s fastest previous time – Glenbrook South rival Ryan Schaefer – beaten over the last two hurdles. Instead, Schaefer was ruled the winner in 38.37.
For Evanston head coach Don Michelin, it was one of the most painful moments in a decadeslong career watching Kit runners and jumpers striving to get to state.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling. I really feel bad for Miles,” Michelin said. “He’s a tremendous athlete, one of our finest ever, and for him to do what he did today was really something. He really wanted the challenge of running four [individual] events because that’s the type of athlete he is. He would’ve been mentioned in the same breath with Bob McGee [first in both hurdles races, the 100 and the mile relay in 1979, at the state finals] but he fell just short.
“Your focus has to be so great against competition like this and he lost his focus, and his balance, for just a moment. He gave it all he had. As great a race as it was, he didn’t finish it. So now he’s got another week to run, and let’s get back to work.”
Granjean shook off that disappointment just minutes later when he was clocked in a personal record of 22.21 on his way to a runner-up finish in the 200-meter dash. Highland Park’s Doug Anderson nosed past him to win in 22.15. The top two finishers in each event, plus those who bettered existing IHSA qualifying standards, automatically advanced to state.
The senior standout’s stumble cost the Wildkits 10 points in the team standings. So Evanston settled for fifth place in the 16-team field with 52 points, behind Prospect (96), Glenbrook South (69), New Trier (60) and Hersey (55).
In only his second season competing in track – hockey was his first love until he finally quit the sport last year – Granjean has already made a huge impact on the program, no matter what happens when he’s tested down in Charleston. Thursday he ruled the 110 hurdles in 14.32 seconds – Niles West’s Chris Rodriguez was a distant second in 15.09 – and came back just a couple minutes later to take first place in the 100 in 10.84, ahead of 10.86 for Hersey’s Jack Berman.
“The 110 hurdles is really my favorite race,” said Granjean, who has committed to attend the University of Iowa next year, “but the most satisfying race for me today was in the 100 because there was a guy at 10.9 [Berman] and that was such good competition. I held off a pretty fast guy in that race. I wasn’t ready at the start [when the gun went off], but I regrouped and got to the finish line first.
“It’ll take time for me to get over that 300 race. But I need to understand that I ran a good race, and that I ran well in all four events today.”
Hassard showed his ability – and his class – in the high jump. He tied for first place with Glenbrook South’s Schaefer in the high jump at 1.90 meters – the pair had the same amount of misses at lower heights – and when a jump-off (per the rules) didn’t decide anything, the two rivals decided not to jump any more because both were entered in the maximum number of events for the day and wanted to save their legs.
Coin toss decides gold
So when a meet official offered a coin flip to decide who would take home the gold medal, and who should get one shipped to him later in the mail, Hassard deferred to the GBS senior and let him add to his medal haul.
Schaefer also won the long jump, with a best leap of 6.81 meters to Kye’s 6.73 for Evanston.
“When I hit that 1.90 [automatic state qualifying mark], the pressure was off, and I felt like I could relax,” said Evanston junior Hassard. “I had a couple of good jumps at 1.95 [6 feet, 5 inches] and I think it’s just a matter of time now until I hit it. With the adrenaline and jumping in front of the crowd at state, I think I’ll have enough to get over it.
“I decided about a month ago that I’d focus on the high jump [he’s also an accomplished triple jumper]. This year, my goal was to make it to state in the high jump.”
Going to state in his first year
Kye, a senior, advanced to state in his first year of track competition. He sent retiring coach Vern Harris out on a good note with his efforts in his final season as jumps coach, a career that spans more than 30 years at ETHS.
“I’ve been commuting 100 miles every day [from his home in Kenosha, Wisconsin] for about seven years now, and enough’s enough,” Harris said. “Myles did a great job today, but he has too much nerves. He needs to sit down and relax more. I figured he’d get one of the top two spots today. If he’d just relax more, he’d be at 7 [meters] and he’d have done better than the boy who finished first. Now that’s the new coach’s problem.”
“It’s just crazy for me to make it in my first year jumping,” Kye said. “I didn’t expect this today, especially after a rough week last week [at the conference meet]. I was a little down on myself after that. It was really hard for me to get back in the groove the first two or three days of practice, but I knew I could do it. I just had to make sure that I was locked in.
“I like to talk to my friends on the bus, but today I didn’t talk to anyone. I was locked in. I got that 6.73 on that first jump and I thought I was in pretty good shape [to qualify]. And I scratched my second jump – it was out about 6.8 or 6.9 – so I felt pretty good after that.”
Evanston came close to qualifying in the 400 relay, but the Wildkit foursome of Kye, Hassard, Jordan Crumpton and Camarius Morgan just missed with a time of 43.09 that was good for fourth place overall. State qualifying in that event was 42.99.
Also scoring top-six finishes for the Wildkits were nonqualifiers Evan Siegel, fifth in the 110 hurdles in 15.73, and Morgan, Kye, Siegel and Hassard, who combined for sixth in the 800 relay in 1:31.27.