CHARLESTON, – Tommy Lovett wanted to cap his career at Seneca in style Saturday at the Class 1A boys track and field state finals and he certainly did that.
The Irish athlete, who also placed sixth at 182 pounds in wrestling and was all-conference in football, turned in a winning time of 14.67 seconds in the 110 high hurdles to defeat Peoria Christian’s Josh Kirby by two-tenths of a second for the championship.
He became the first individual champion in the sport at his school. A 4x800 relay squad won Seneca’s only other title in 1990. The best showing by an individual prior to Saturday was F. Wehling’s second-place finish in the long jump in 1932.
“This is the best feeling in the world,” Lovett said. “To have all of these people here to watch you and to show off your talents is the greatest gift that there is. Any one of the guys could have won, it just depended on who got the best start, and I feel like I had a strong start. The biggest thing for me is that I didn’t want to let the nerves get to me. It was great to be able to represent my school since these have been the best four years of my life.”
Minooka senior Chris Wilson claimed second place in the Class 3A 400 dash behind Plainfield Central’s Kahmari Montgomery, who also won the 200 dash title.
In the 400, Wilson posted a time of 47.4, which was well ahead of Homewood-Flossmoor’s Matt Anyiwo (48.11), who took third, but also a ways behind Montgomery (46.82).
Only two Indians ever fared better at state in an individual event, champions Tom Clennon (1 mile and 2 mile in 1977) and Scott Moss (discus in 2001). Minooka also has won two relay titles, including in the 4x400 last season, which Wilson ran with.
Wilson also was on sixth-place 4x100 and 4x400 squads Saturday to give him six medals in relay races during the past three years, as well as his first individual medal, establishing a new program record of seven, shattering the old mark of four medals.
“This feels great,” Wilson said. “That was the goal. I knew that he would do phenomenal but I had high hopes and tried to stick with him and thought maybe I could get him in the last 100, but that wasn’t going to happen. He’s the only kid all year who beat me. I messed up in prelims last year so I was so happy to make the finals and be the second-seed.”
Devin Ingram, Mitch Miller, Chris Hopkins and Wilson were in the 4x100 relay (42.12) while Kyle Shelton and Jake Smith joined Ingram and Wilson in the 4x400 relay (3:18.6). Smith claimed his third medal, which included last year’s 4x400 relay. Victor Turpin and Matt Dlugopolski were with Ingram and Miller in the 4x200 relay (1:27.78), which also took sixth.
Shabari Bailey also claimed seventh in the 110 hurdles (14.73) for the Indians, who were looking to turn in their best state showing but fell short by placing tenth with 23 points.
Dwight, which had only placed in three relays, claimed sixth in the 1A 4x800 relay (8:10.73) with Mitch Fransen, Nathan Ruffatti, Blaine Livingston and Michael Bennett and was sixth in the 4x400 relay (3:27.42) with Conor Livingston joining everyone but Ruffatti.