One of Brian Daniels’ responsibilities as a team captain is to collect the envelope filled with medals and ribbons and distribute them to his teammates at the conclusion of invitational track meets.
Daniels didn’t have to give all of those medals away Friday night. The Evanston senior more than contributed to the medal haul, scoring two 1st place finishes and two 2nd place finishes while leading the Wildkits to their 10th consecutive team title at the Central Suburban League South division indoor invitational at ETHS.
Daniels repeated as the conference long jump champion, scored a rare win in the 200-meter dash, and also scored runnerup finishes in both hurdles races as part of another dominating performance by the host team. Evanston, competing without ineligible star sprinter Brad Garron, still captured seven 1st place finishes as a team and amassed 153 points to 112 for Niles West. Also competing were New Trier (110), Glenbrook South (53), Maine South (52) and Niles North (15).
Daniels has been overshadowed in his best events in the past by faster teammates, but showed that he’s ready to step out of those shadows when the track scene shifts outdoors. Replacing Garron in the 200, he edged Niles West’s Steven Ho 24.02 to 24.12 after earlier winning his specialty — the long jump — with a best of 21 feet, 3 inches that was more than a foot farther than his winning effort as a junior at the same meet.
In the hurdles, he was clocked in 8.23 in the 55-meter highs and added a 7.62 in the 55 lows, both times placing behind New Trier’s Albert Yen.
Daniels said he didn’t feel any extra pressure to “do more” with Garron not in the lineup.
“I’m always stretched out (entered in 4 events) at meets like this, and the 200 was really the only new thing for me tonight,” said the ETHS senior. “I always have a lot to do, and this wasn’t really all that different for me. I’ve been steadily improving in all of my events, although when we go outside the 300 hurdles will be new for me.
“In the long jump, I got a PR (personal record) in our meet at Olivet Nazarene. I usually get PRs there, but this year I went over 21 feet for the first time and I’ve had straight 21s since then. The coaches have forced me to go to the weight room more — I hate working out like that — and the exercise I’m doing is more targeted to help me with my vertical this year.”
Daniels had to bide his time to emerge as the program’s top hurdler his senior year. Last season, Roland Amarteifio and B.J. Bamgbose shared the hurdle responsibilities outdoors and now it’s Daniels’ turn.
“When I looked at the fact that there were really no other hurdlers in my class (age group), I knew I’d probably be the No. 1 hurdler as a senior,” Daniels said. “I feel like now I’m older, faster and stronger. I didn’t really like the hurdles much last year, but I was happy to watch and learn from Roland and B.J. I worked out a lot with Roland this past summer, trying to fine tune some of my skills, so hopefully I’ll be a lot better when we get outdoors.”
“This is Brian’s team now, and he did a great job of talking to the guys about how none of them wanted to lose the CSL meet,” said Wildkit head coach Don Michelin. “He shared an email from (alum) Patrick Klamm with them about what this program meant to him, and he used that email as a lead-up to talking about how every man has to do his job at this meet.
“Brian’s one of the top seniors in this school and his character is unbelievable. I think this whole team is really starting to develop some character.”
Three of Evanston’s individual victories came in the field events. Junior Jonathan Wilburn topped the triple jump field for the second year in a row, with a winning effort of 44 feet, 1 inch, and in the shot put ETHS junior Trey Dawkins stole a win from defending champ (and teammate) Christian Nielsen with a final throw of 52-4. Nielsen settled for 2nd at 51-10.
Also scoring wins for the Wildkits were Logan Singer, 2:03.72 in the 800-meter run; Michael Henry, 53.37 in the 400; and the 3200 relay team of Julion Michelin, Joe Eovaldi, Alex Tomakoff and Max Peterson, timed in 8:34.42.
Contributing top 5 finishes for the team champions were Matt Caines, 2nd in the triple jump at 40-10; Jared Jones, 3rd in the high jump at 5-7; Sacrad Michelin, 3rd in the 200 in 24.22; Miles Hampton, 3rd in the open 55 in 6.84; Sam Bergman, 4th in the 800 in 2:06.38; Matt Bates, 4th in the 400 in 54.93; Montell Wilburn, 4th in the 55 in 6.85; Jonathan Wilburn, 4th in the long jump at 19-9.75; and Eovaldi, 5th in the 1600 in 4:49.75.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.