EDWARDSVILLE - Edwardsville's 4x400 meter relay team finished in second behind Plainfield North, but it was enough to clinch the meet for the Tigers in winning the 13th annual Winston Brown Invitational meet Saturday afternoon at Edwardsville's Winston Brown Track and Field Center.

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The Tigers came in first with 120 points, with Mt. Vernon finishing second with 119 points, while Plainfield North was third at 100.75 points. Tinley Park Andrew was fourth with 67 points, O'Fallon came in fifth with 59 points, Mascoutah was sixth with 37.75 points, Cahokia was seventh with 37 points, Collinsville finished eighth with 31.5 points, Triad was ninth with 30.5 points and Alton rounded out the top ten with 27 points.

St. Louis St. Mary's Catholic came in 11th with 18 points, Effingham was 12th with nine-and-a-half points, placing 13th was Lockport Township with eight points, Metro-East Lutheran tied for 14th with Belleville East with two points apiece and Highland was 16th with one point.

It was the Tigers' seventh championship in the meet, and in an interview prior to the conclusion of the meet, Edwardsville head coach Chad Lakatos was very pleased with how things were going.

"Currently, we're sitting in second, team points-wise," Lakatos said, "and things are going well. We scored some decent points in the field events and we continue to do well in the sprint events on the track, we've had some young guys step up and do well."

And one of the younger runners who stepped up was Lakatos' son, Clayton, who finished sixth in the 110 meter hurdles and fourth in the 300 meter hurdles, setting the school's freshman record with a time of 41.80 seconds, and is emerging as one of the better hurdlers in the area.

"Most definitely," Lakatos said. "He has his eye on the Matt Grieve record for several years back, placed third in the 110s for us and he took down the 300s and I know he's still shooting at the freshman 110s and hopefully, with a little time left in the season, he can get that. I'm super proud of him, he did well. And he also anchored our 4x100 meter relay, he ran the 4x100 varsity relay, so he was pretty excited about that."

That the varsity did well in the meet is a good stepping stone towards the remainder of the season for the Tigers.

"Most definitely," Lakatos said. "We scored 18 points in the long jump, we had Aarion Jackson and Kellen Brnfre, they went one-two and I believe Jordan Brooks, the results aren't up, but he won the triple jump and then, Ethan Stukenberg placed third in the pole vault, I think Iose Epenesa got fifth in the shot put, didn't make the finals in the (discus), but Dalton Brown did, so we'll see where that ends up and we just got big points running the (1,600 meters), we got one-two with (Ryan) Watts and (Geo) Patrylak coming off last night. So it's big results in Indiana, so we're proud of their performances today."

The conditions, while windy, were ideal, with sunny and much warmer weather prevailing, and Lakatos continues to put things together for his team to enjoy success.

"Yeah, we're continuing to try to piece the puzzle together," Lakatos said. "I think we're starting to see the picture clear up just a little bit with getting the latter part of the season and we need to start fine-tuning things. We've got the (Madison) county next week, Triad and then Collinsville and conference, so we're narrowing it down and not counting down completely, but the kids need to understand that they've got to continue to work hard and we'll put them in the right spot and hopefully, good things will happen."

The Redbirds had some very good performances as well, and head coach Jeff White was also pleased with how his athletes did.

"We've had a really good performance in the hurdles today out of Simon McClain," White said. "He set (personal records) with the 110 and the 300-meter hurdles, did really well in the 300, finishing into that headwind. It would be even better without the wind we had today. We also had some really good performances out of John Krafka and Christian Kotzamanis in the open 800 meters. They've been doing really well in the last week or so and I think they're ready to hit below two minutes by the end of the year."

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The turn of the weather into warmer and more spring-like conditions has helped, as conditions at the meet, while quite windy, were sunny and warm.

"Yeah, we're finally starting to get some good weather here," White said. "We've had a lot of wind this morning and today's obviously a very windy day. It's kind of made the starting of some races difficult, but we're still hitting PRs, even with the headwind. So as the weather keeps getting better, our times are going to keep coming down."

White feels that sunny weather, such as what was there for the meet, is very helpful for the athletes in bringing their times down.

"The sun is a great thing for track," White said. "Having the sun, having some warm weather. First and foremost, I'm just glad we have that. It is a beautiful day. It's certainly a little windy, but that's OK. We're starting to see the times come down with the weather picking up here."

White has some very good goals for the Redbirds and hopes that his athletes continue to improve as the season begins to draw to a close.

"We're looking to just kind of improving our times," White said. "We have a lot of new guys out this year for track and field, so every meet, they're getting better, building up their confidence. The training is coming along really well, our young guys are doing really well as well. like our freshman group. So we're just looking to keep improving and see where we're at in the last couple of weeks there in the year. I think Simon McClain has a great shot at going to state in the hurdles and I think, like I said, Krafka and Kotzamanis are going to keep coming along in the 800 and they could be some surprises as well."

Tamarion Bivines of O'Fallon won the 100 meters with a time of 10.64 seconds, then took the 200 meters at 22.51 seconds, while in the 400 meters, Judd Hicks of Mt. Vernon won with a time of 51.71 seconds. Dylan Ybarra of O'Fallon won the 800 meters with a time of 2:01.56, with Krafka placing third at 2:03.81, Kotzamanis right behind in fourth at 2:05.29, Edwardsville's Ryan Luitjohan coming in sixth at 2:06.46 and Highland's Dallas Mancinas was eighth at 2:09.08.

In the 1,600 meters, Watts followed up on breaking Stephen Pifer's 3,200-meter record the night before in Carmel, Ind., with a win at 4:19.33, with Patrylak second at 4:27.89 and Alton's Noah Gallivan eighth at 4:55.07. The 3.200 meters was won by Mascoutah's Lance Miller at 10:15.77, with Hugh Davis of the Tigers third at 10:25.10 and teammates Ben Ziobro sixth at 10:33.22 and Jacob Grandone seventh at 10:41.47.

In the hurdles races, the 110 meters was won by Benny Diaz, one of the nation's top hurdlers from Saugatuck, Mich., broke the meet record previously held by Victor Cameron of Crete-Monee in 2019 with a time of 13.77 seconds. Diaz was running unattached, so first place points went Mt. Vernon's Alec Sledge, who came in second at 14.49 seconds, while McClain came in fifth at 15.93 seconds, Lakatos was sixth at 16.00 seconds, Nathan Butler of Metro-East was eighth at 16.21 seconds and Triad's Chase Harmon was ninth at 16.29 seconds. Diaz also won the 300 meters, coming in at 39.17 seconds, with first-place points awarded to Mt. Vernon's Michael Pittman in second place at 41.19 seconds, McClain placed third at 41.66 seconds, Lakatos was fourth at 41.80 seconds, teammate Jake Curry was eighth at 44.62 and Harmon tied for ninth with Andrew's Carter Bailitz, both coming in at 44.75 seconds.

In the relay races, the Thunderbolts won the 4x100 meter race with a time of 42.85 seconds, with Triad second at 43.16 seconds, Edwardsville came in third at 43.33 seconds and Alton was sixth at 45.94 seconds. The 4x200 meters was also won by Andrew at 1:30.30, with Edwardsville second at 1:30,84 and Triad was fourth at 1:31.71. The 4x400 meters saw Plainfield North win the race with a time of 3:30.21, with the Tigers second at 3:31.70 and the Knights fifth at 3:37.42. In the 4x800 meters, the winner was again Plainfield North, coming in at 8:11.09, with Edwardsville in second at 8:29.53 and Triad in fourth at 8:57.86.

In the field events, Jo'Vlao Howard of Cahokia won with a height of 1.90 meters, while teammates Dakota Minor and Tanner Koontz of Mt. Vernon tied for first in the pole vault, both going over at four meters even, with Minor winning the event on the fewest misses rule, while Stukenberg set his personal record by finishing third at 3.85 meters and Triad's Jackson Buck tied for fourth with Collinsville's Ben Stallings at 3.70 meters, with Buck coming in fourth on the fewest misses rule.

Jackson and Brnfre went one-two in the long jump, with Jackson going 6.78 meters and Brnfre jumping 6.39 meters, while Triad's Juliano Cigliana came in fourth at 6.11 meters and Brooks coming in seventh at 6.02 meters. In the triple jump, Brooks won with a leap of 13.44 meters, with teammate Gino Montgomery coming in third at 13.06 meters and the Tigers' Brandon Young was sixth at 12.06 meters.

In the shot put, the winner was Colin Wojtkiewicz of Plainfield North, who had a throw of 16.31 meters, with Epenesa coming in fifth at 13.86 meters. In the discus throw, Andrew's Jonathan Young won with a throw of 54.11 meters, with Dalton Brown of Edwardsville placing fifth at 43.73 meters and Jaylin Nelson of Triad came in ninth with a toss of 41.69 meters.

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