Roland Amarteifio and Brad Garron are two fierce competitors who’ll push each other hard whenever they get the opportunity.
But the rivalry is a friendly one. And the two Evanston standouts really didn’t mind sharing a first-place medal Friday at the Central Suburban League South division championship meet.
The duo earned a rare tie for first place in the 100-meter dash, and accounted for 5 of the 9 first place performances by the Wildkits as they repeated as team champions with 165 points to 152 for meet host New Trier. Glenbrook South (87), Maine South (74), Niles West (61) and Waukegan (8) rounded out the team scoring.
Garron, a junior, didn’t know he’d caught his senior teammate until the meet was almost over. Both sprinters were timed in 11.04 seconds, a rare tie even for a sprint race because Fully Automatic Timing is precise to the hundredths and sometimes thousandths of a second compared to old style hand timing.
More remarkably, it was only the second time Amarteifio has competed in the open 100 in his racing career. Head coach Don Michelin, seeking extra points to add to his team’s bid, also entered the senior in both hurdles races as usual, and he only had a few minutes to rest after winning the 110 high hurdles race in 14.52 for the second straight year.
Amarteifio also repeated as CSL South champ in the 300 hurdles, blazing to a winning time of 38.43.
“Roland has shown some great explosion with his start, and after he got first in the 100 in the C division at Wheaton South, I thought he could do it at the conference meet and be effective,” said ETHS head coach Don Michelin. “And he was kicking Brad’s butt in practice during most of the workouts this week.”
”Give that first place medal to me. Brad can get his next year,” Amarteifio kidded his coach. “The fact that we finished 1-2 really surprised me. This is only the 2nd time I’ve run that race. I’ve been beating him over 70 meters in practice, but I know what a strong finisher he is and when I saw him at the end I said to myself, just lean.
“Those practice days were hard and painful, but they prepared me well for this. I just needed to get everything out of my head and run. Brad and I train together all the time, even though we run different events, and there’s definitely a rivalry there. We go at it hard in practice no matter what workout we’re doing. We both want to win, but it’s a friendly rivalry, and we both want to push each other hard to push to the top. We just shook hands before the 100 and got after it. We knew what we had to do.”
Garron successfully defended his title in the 200, in 22.17, and in the 400 in 49.15 on a cool and sometimes windy afternoon in Winnetka.
“I thought Roland had it — barely — but it’s kinda fun that we tied,” said the junior regarding the shortest sprint. “I thought we both ran pretty good races.
After the race he said why’d you have to catch me, but I still thought he won. I don’t mind sharing. There’s always a competition between us, but our objective in the 100 was to finish 1-2 no matter which way it turned out.”
The pair also combined with B.J. Bamgbose and Brian Daniels to earn a gold medal in the 400-meter relay with a winning time of 42.31.
In the field events, triple jumper Jonathan Wilburn captured his second straight title in that event, with a best leap of 44 feet even; Ben Easington topped the discus field with a personal best 137-6; and Christian Nielsen ruled the shotput for ETHS with a PR toss of 52 feet.
Nielsen’s winning throw was just one inch better than his previous best, but his increased quickness in the circle shows that throwers can taper just like sprinters and swimmers due at the end of a long grind of a season.
“We’ve done a lot of lifting and really worked hard in practice, but this past week with the way Coach G (assistant coach George Woolridge) sets things up, we taper off when we get to the championship season,” Nielsen said. “I felt sharper and lighter today and I know I was faster in the circle. Coach works us really hard the entire season, indoors and outdoors, and hopefully it pays off at the end. I’m just trying to peak at the right time. And winning today means a lot because we’re doing everything we can to help the team win.”
Adding runnerup finishes to Evanston’s point total were Bamgbose, 22.99 in the 200; Daniels, 20-5 in the long jump; and the 800 and 1600 relay teams.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.