YORKVILLE — Jack Stillmunkes clasped his hands in a “V” sign for victory as he crossed the finish line.
The Yorkville elder had good reason to feel victorious.
Stillmunkes’ win from behind over Oswego East’s Parker Nold in a thrilling 800-meter race was one of the highlights of the Foxes’ sweep to the boys’ and girls’ tag team titles at their Matt Wulf Invitational on Thursday. It also continued Stillmunkes’ comeback after nearly a year on the run.
With a strong wind changing his strategy, Stillmunkes advanced on Nold in the final 100 meters to cut him off at the finish line in 2:01.64. Nold was second in 2:02.08.
“My coach just told me to see who comes out, find that guy, stay on him and wait to make that move,” Stillmunkes said. “Usually I try to do the move at the 200 mark, but you go straight into the wind. I had to wait a little longer and got it into the last 100.
[ Photos: Yorkville’s Matt Wulf Invitational ]
Yorkville won the boys’ tag team title with 130 points, narrowly edging out TF South (125) with Oswego East third (114). The Yorkville girls scored 145 points to beat runner-up Rockford Guilford (136).
Stillmunkes’ patient approach in Thursday’s race reflects that of an athlete who has overcome a lot to get back on his feet.
He had a ganglion cyst in his knee that had to be drained in surgery last August, an injury that cost him most of his cross country season. He trained all winter, waiting for the track season.
“I was on crutches for about two weeks. It was really hard to run, I could barely do a mile when I was trying to go through it, but eventually my coach stopped me, did a bunch of d MRI and they told me what it was,” Stillmunkes said. “I’m still working on the cardio a bit. Races like the 800 are more strength-oriented. I’ve always liked the track a little more than cross country, so I’m glad I was able to do that.
Oswego East junior Alexander Das, like Stillmunkes, is coming back from a painful fall season to what he hopes will be a big end this spring.
Das missed most of the cross country playoffs with a stress fracture that sidelined him for four months. But he looked in good form Thursday, running away with the 1600 title ahead of Stillmunkes in 4:32.99.
“I knew he [Stillmunkes] ran the 800 before so he was a little gassed; I thought he would be my main competition, but he had a great race,” Das said.
Das is now six weeks away from returning.
“I think I learned a lot,” Das said. “The last cross-country season, I didn’t eat well, I didn’t recover well. I think it will help me a lot for the track season. I want to get to the state and run a really crazy time. I think I can. »
Yorkville sibling pitchers Kyle Clabough and Courtney Clabough, who were state indoor shot put champions last month at Top Times, certainly have their sights set on the outside state. Unsurprisingly, they dominated Thursday’s throwing events in less than ideal conditions.
Courtney won the shot put with an effort of 35 feet, 3 inches and discus with a 106-6, while Kyle did the same on the boys’ side, taking the shot put in 58 feet, 2.5 inches and disk in 155-5.
“It wasn’t fun tossing in that wind, but I knew it was going to be like this,” Kyle Clabough said. “I just came in with the attitude of just getting the win and trying to enjoy it.”
Clabough, a signing from Wisconsin, wasn’t happy with his performance in early games but is looking forward to hitting big shots in three games next week.
“I have a hard time staying in the ring, but I know I have a lot more power than I’ve ever had,” he said. “I’m getting good practice shots. Once it starts to get hot, I think I can aim for a big PR.
Yorkville senior Anna Hunter started the night on the track anchoring the Foxes winning 4×800 relay in 10:14.0, then later came back to win the 1600 open in 5:18.08 with her sister twin Maggie second.
“Honestly coming in it was windy all day, I just went out there to run and score points,” Anna Hunter said, “but the wind died down and I thought you know what, I’m going to run like I normally run.
The way Hunter has run this season has been pretty good so far.
“I’ve done a lot of PR, got my mile down to 5:10, with better weather I think I can hit 5 minutes,” she said. “I was running about 5:30 last year, but I feel a lot stronger as a runner. I was able to put more of my training into races.
Yorkville junior Josh Pugh, second in the triple jump, came back to easily win the 400 in 51.47 seconds.
“That wind on the back stretch, you could definitely feel it. I had to get past that in my final sprint,” Pugh said. “I was able to cut through that and finish strong.”
Oswego East also picked up victories from Austin Johnson in the high jump (5 feet, 9.85 inches) and 4×800 relay in 3:38.83. Katie Melzer of Yorkville won the 800 in 2:24.88 and Ava Galloway the 3,200 in 11:36.76, and the Yorkville girls won the 4×400 relay in 4:13.29.