Niles West Boys Sectional : Scoring controversy clouds Keelan and York wins

The start of the Boys Sectional Race at the Niles West Sectional. York’s Chris May was knocked down causing a restart. Photo By Doug Ackerman.

Skokie, Ill — Was this déjà-vous? It seemed like we had done this dance before. Last year it was Maine South that was notified that they would be going to the state meet and then told that because of a scoring error that they finished sixth.

It was hope against hope that this would not happen again. But it did.

After what happened last year, the IHSA revised its Regional / Sectional Finish Line procedures. In the terms and conditions items IX-G and VIII-3, it requires that the meet referee at all regional and sectional meets must review the required video of the finish of each race. According to the IHSA, the required review would help that all close finishes have been evaluated in these qualifying events just as they are at the state final races.

After the race was over, the referee supposedly reviewed every finisher. Apparently not. When the results were posted, Lane Tech Coach Kris Roof had noticed that 1 of his runners was missing. He notified meet manager and Niles West Head Coach Michael Grossman of the error. They went reviewed the tape and the change was made. Lane Tech was moved from 6th to 4th and qualifying for the state meet. This time it was St. Ignatius that had the rug pulled out from under them. Originally scored as the fifth place team, they were moved into sixth and thus not qualifying as a team.

In talking to Grossman, he stated that the Lane Tech runner that was missed, David Schmieg who was the fourth man and finished 44th, was wearing both timing chips on the same foot. With that happening, the chips were not read and his place was not properly recorded.

“Last year, I was the one who was very assertive that a video review was done. It is just a bit of irony,” St. Ignatius Coach Ed Ernst said. “Today they did not do it. I talked to the official and they looked at some of the close finishes. That is not want they did. They were supposed to check the whole thing.  Physical bodies count. Thank goodness it is not a chip world yet and the Lane Tech and Glenbard West boys beat us fair and square. The more interesting question would be what would we had done if there had not been a video review and they put us in and the Lane Tech kids had beat us. Do we say no send them? In sports, that is what you are supposed to do. The kids are crushed but Jack has a new mission.”

St. Ignatius’ Jack Keelan starts to break away from York’s Scott Milling on his way to a sectional win at the NIles West Sectional. Photo by Steven Koch.

St. Ignatius’ Jack Keelan had a busy morning before his race. He took the ACT test which eased his mind away from the race. It took him away from the 2011 race where he entered as one of the race favorites but finished 17th and not qualifying individually. He was in a fresh piece of mind ready to go.

The race was called back after about 100 meters when York’s Chris May was knocked down. “It was a stupid move by me,” May, who finished 3rd, said. “I should have run in a straight line instead I wanted to get immediately on the course line. It was my fault.”

Within the first half mile of the race, it already was defined what was going to happen. Keelan went immediately to the front and Scott Milling of York and Micah Beller of Niles North went right with him. 5 meters back it was the York trio of May, Kyle Mattes, and Alex Mimlitz. With them were Jon Vaccaro of Maine South and Marcelo Burbano of Lane Tech.

Keelan and Milling were side by side for the next mile as Beller dropped off the pace. Forty meters back was the York trio. The team race was already determined as York had 4 of the first 5 places and their fifth man Alex Bashqawi was around 15th.

Keelan made a strategic break from Milling on the last mile loop as soon as they came out of the woods. “I knew that the stretch where I made the break was pretty windy. Even though you might be feeling tough I wanted to break him there,” Keelan said.

Keelan finished 14:44 on the new layout at Niles West. Milling finished second in 14:53 leading a York 2-5 sweep. Bashqawi’s 15th place gave them a low 29 points. Maine South, New Trier, and Glenbard West along with Lane Tech were the other team qualifiers. This is the first team performance for the Glenbard West’s boys team since they finished 5th in 1978.

York’s thought of collapse last week at Lake Park looks like an illusion and the Dukes appear again on track heading to Peoria. All York Coach Joe Newton said was “I thought they looked good today.”

“I definitely wanted to see what I could do today. Having Jack in our sectional was a perfect opportunity to try that instead of waiting until state,” Milling said afterwards. “That last two weeks we have run pretty good workouts so I am definitely confident. We are definitely happy with our performance. We are looking forward to next week.”

Keelan escaped the demons that haunted him on the course this day. “It is something that has been lingering  but taking the ACT kept my mind off of that,” he said. “It was a great race by Milling. It was bold and it paid off. I think he had a good time. It felt good. Especially to get past the course today, it felt good.”

The one memory that he erased in winning the race was replaced by his team thinking that they had qualified but had not. A devastated Keelan walked out slowly from the Niles West Fieldhouse. All he could say was “Now I have something else to run for in Peoria.”

He will not be out on that course alone in Peoria on Saturday afternoon. The strength of his teammates will be with him.

Look for more thoughts about what happened Saturday at Niles West in a commentary Monday morning.


Posted on October 28, 2012, in Meet Recaps, Saturday Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Look for the IHSA to take the sectional away from Niles West now and move it to Lake Park. Niles has had a sectional for the past 12 years, and the course is never the same. They have a great deal of support for the race, but enough is enough. It’s time for a change.

  2. Thanks for the sympathetic story and simple explanation, Mike. It was a tough situation for everyone involved.

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