Peterson paces Wildkits to 5th straight TT Classic title

Max Peterson doesn’t owe Evanston head track coach Don Michelin any pushups now.

The ETHS junior more than paid his dues Saturday at the 33rd annual Thornton Township Classic invitational meet in Harvey, leading the Wildkits to the team title for the 5th year in a row with an iron-man performance.

Facing a punishment --- pushups are Michelin’s favorite --- for arriving late to a team meeting prior to the meet, Peterson instead was given an option for redemption by the veteran coach and took on the added task of running with the 4 x 400 relay team after also competing in the open 800-meter and 1600-meter races.

Peterson not only won both races, he helped the Wildkits to a second place finish in the final relay at the conclusion of an exhausting day.

Evanston repeated as team champion with 159 points to 91 for runnerup Homewood-Flossmoor. Also in the field were Thornridge (76), Oak Forest (51), Thornwood (51), Thornton (48), Brother Rice (33), Crete-Monee (20), Bremen (11) and Rich Central (2).

The meet featured a new format, with competing schools allowed to enter as many as 4 individuals per event instead of the customary 2, but Evanston displayed plenty of depth to go with Peterson’s pair of wins and individual first place finishes from Max Ebeling (10 minutes, 1.79 seconds in the 3200), Egan Schliesmann (135 feet even in the discus throw), and Jamal Perrin (43 feet even in the triple jump).

ETHS also scored a first place finish in the 800 relay as the foursome of Sacrad Michelin, Isaac Hunter, Peter Braithwaite and Jeffrey Klamm combined for a winning time of 1:31.33.

Peterson blazed his way to victory in the 800 with a personal best time of 1:57.53, then eased to a win in the 1600 in 4:38.19. His anchor leg of 51.23 in the 1600 relay assured the unit of Ayoub El-Ashmawi, Julion Michelin and Klamm a runnerup finish of 3:24.97, just hundredths of a second off the established Illinois High School Association state qualifying standard (3:24.66).

Peterson appreciated the chance to make up for his tardiness Saturday.

“I got to school on time (6:30 a.m.), but I didn’t know we were going to have a team meeting in the lockerroom. I thought we were getting right on the bus,” he said. “So I was about 2 minutes late for the meeting.

“I have a bad habit of being late and I think Coach is trying to beat it out of me. And I think it’s working! I really didn’t see running on the relay as a punishment, but I’ll take it that way. I was really kinda glad to be on that relay, but right now I am tired. It’s been a tiring week.”

“Max is definitely off the hook now,” agreed Coach Michelin. “What a triple that was for him! What he did today, that’s really Orange and Blue. We want to do our best when we’re the most fatigued and we did that time and time again today.

“Max has been sick for awhile now, but he’s been able to train through it. You’re always afraid that his resistance will get low, and he’ll get sicker, but it seems to me that he’s weathered that storm now. We’ll probably run him in all 3 races at the league meet (next week), but hopefully he won’t have to go in all 3 at the sectional.”

In the 800, Peterson let teammate Julion Michelin set the early pace, then charged into the lead with about 300 meters left to beat Thornridge’s Corey Thomas (1:58.87) and Michelin (1:59.21, a season best). His winning time of 4:38.19 in the 1600 was part of a 1-2-4 sweep for the Wildkits in that race, with Ebeling 2nd (4:44.81) and Jack Rutstein 4th (4:54.90).

“I really felt like I had a PR in me for the 1600, but I knew I still had that relay left to run, too,” Peterson pointed out. “I was relaxed the whole time in the 1600.

“It seems like I’ve been sick all of April, with a sinus infection and then pneumonia, so it was a rough month for me. But I’m just about over it now.”

With top hurdler Kalil Johnson sidelined by a minor hamstring issue, the Wildkits still picked up valuable team points in both the 110 and 300 events. In the 110 hurdles, sophomore Aaron Hutchins contributed a 2nd place (in 15.79) with freshman Sebastian Cheeks 3rd in 15.98.

In the longer race, Hutchins raced to another runnerup performance in 42.70 and senior Dylan Holt added a 5th in 44.40.

Also scoring top 5 finishes for the Wildkits were Ellis Allen, 3rd in the 3200 in 10:30.99; El-Ashmawi, 4th in the 400 in 50.47; Schliesmann, 4th in the shot put at 45-4; Isaac Hunter, 4th in the 200 in 23.20; Elijah Gist, tie for 4th in the high jump at 5-7 and 5th in the triple jump at 40-3; Sacrad Michelin, 5th in the 200 in 23.28; Kuper Imrem, 5th in the discus at 105-05; and Quentin Ivory, 5th in the shot at 45-1.

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