No senior in the Evanston boys track program ever wants to be associated with a team that DIDN’T win the Central Suburban League championship.
Roland Amarteifio helped make sure that didn’t happen Friday night at the ETHS fieldhouse.
Amarteifio claimed first place finishes in both the 55-meter high hurdles and 55-meter low hurdles and also ran on the winning 800-meter relay team, helping the host Wildkits overwhelm the rest of the field on their way to their 9th consecutive conference indoor title.
Evanston racked up nine first place finishes, including three individual wins by junior Brad Garron, and never looked back with a point total of 167 that beat out New Trier (125.5), Glenbrook South (88), Niles West (51.5), Maine South (40) and Waukegan (13).
“None of these kids wants to be in the group that loses the string,” said Evanston head coach Don Michelin. “Not us, not on our watch. That was a dominating effort by the guys tonight.”
Amarteifio’s gold medal performances in the hurdles included a time of 7.57 seconds in the highs and 7.45 in the lows, both times beating out ETHS teammate Babajide Bamgbose. Garron raced to victories in the open 55 (6.81), 200 (23.17) and 400 (51.79) and Evanston’s other individual wins came from Brian Daniels in the long jump (20 feet, 1 inch), Jonathan Wilburn in the triple jump (43-7.75), and Christian Nielsen in the shot put (50-3), where he cracked the 50-foot plateau for a career best performance.
Amarteifio’s success was no surprise considering that he scored two top six state finishes at the Illinois High School Association state finals last spring. Last year was when the metamorphosis from being “just” a hurdler to a runner began for Amarteifio, and now he’s become a vital part of Evanston’s relays, too.
He turned in a split of 23.91 in the 4 x 200 Friday and his leadoff leg of 51.5 in the 4 x 400 helped ETHS earn a second in that race.
“I didn’t get any PRs today, but I won, and that was the big goal for me tonight, to get wins for me and for our team,” said the senior standout. “I knew we needed every single point and I knew we had to win tonight. When Coach Michelin and Coach (Vernard) Harris took over, their goal was to get the program back to the top and I didn’t want to be the senior to disappoint them. I wanted to continue to elevate this program.
“I thought of myself as just a hurdler until the beginning of my junior year, and that’s when I really started working on being a runner, too. All I did was work on the hurdles as a freshman and a sophomore, but now I’m at the point where I work on sprints and hurdles equally and I try to make the workouts just as intense for both.
“Last year the coaches helped me embrace the 300 (hurdles) and the work it would take to succeed there, and they taught me not to think of it as a burden, but as an opportunity. It worked last year and my goal from the start of this season is to win state in both outdoors. To many people it might seem far-fetched, but I know in my heart I can do it.”
“If you look at our workout sheets (time trials) Roland’s always right up there the past two years,” Michelin pointed out. “He ran better and better when he started working out with the sprinters and that’s how he developed as a runner. Running all those mile relays helped him in the 300 hurdles and he earned those relay spots last year, too.
“He’s young age-wise — he’s only 16 and he doesn’t even have a driver’s license as a senior — and just imagine if we could have him for another year. How good is he as a runner now? He’s good enough to get one of those lanes at the state finals if we let him run the 400 instead of the 300 hurdles.”
Besides Bamgbose in the high hurdles and low hurdles, ETHS added to its point total with runnerup performances from Ngozi Watts in the high jump (personal best 5-10), Daniels in the 200 (24.11) and Jonathan Connerly-Bey in the shot put (47-2).
Contributing thirds were Miles Hampton in the open 55 (6.91), sophomore Logan Singer in the 800 (2:04.25), and Michael Henry in the long jump (19-6.5).
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.