NORRIDGE – Riverside Brookfield entered the Metro Suburban Conference meet without its best returning runner from last year, with a young team and having to go through last year’s Class 2A runner-up.
The Bulldogs overcame all of those things to win the meet, getting past Glenbard South by five points. RB totaled 141 points to squeak past the Raiders’ 136.
The Bulldogs scored in every event except the 4x100-meter relay, which crossed the finish line second but was disqualified.
“To win a meet like that, you need some depth and balance across,” said RB coach Tim Olson.
RB got an early boost from its field events, winning three conference titles, and continued to score throughout Friday at Ridgewood.
Jack VandeMerkt (high jump), David Swon (long jump) and Mike Hornung (discus) won the field event titles. Hornung was also second in the shot put after taking two AP exams earlier in the day.
“He had a long day,” Olson said. “He literally showed up at the last minute and threw a personal best in the shot to take second.”
Junior Gerrand Moody also had a busy and productive day for the Bulldogs. Moody won the 110-meter hurdles, was fourth in the 300 hurdles, helped the 4x400 take second and also ran with the 4x100.
Sophomore Matt Chapp came out of nowhere, as Olson put it, to win the 200 and would have placed third in the 100 but ran that race on the frosh/soph level.
Junior Lewis Rogers was all-conference in both hurdles events and sophomore Lou Grigoletti was second in the discus. Third-place finishers were Dan Curtin (1,600), Richard Mandel (pole vault), Swon (triple jump), and the 4x200 and 4x800 relays.
RB’s big day came despite missing sophomore Marvin McKenzie, who qualified for state in two events last year. McKenzie sat out with a hamstring injury, but Olson expects him to run in the sectional meet at Lyons Township on Friday.
McKenzie is part of a young core of RB athletes that make the future look bright.
“We thought we were a year away from having one of our better teams,” Olson said.
McKenzie will run multiple races at LT, and RB will need everyone available since the Bulldogs moved up to Class 3A this spring. The host Lions are the prohibitive favorite to win the sectional and send loads of athletes to state. Olson mentioned VandeMerkt, Swon, the 4x400 and the 4x800 as the most likely to qualify but expects RB to have a shot in most events.
“Going into sectional we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Olson said. “If they all made it I’d be surprised, but any individual one wouldn’t surprise me.”