CHARLESTON – Jesse Reiser played coy for seven laps in the Class 3A 3,200 meters, at which point the playing around was over.
The McHenry junior took off after O’Fallon’s Patrick Perrier in the final lap, passed Perrier with 250 meters remaining and sprinted to the finish, where he raised his arms in triumph.
Reiser, normally reserved in his victories, had earned a moment to celebrate. He became the Warriors’ first boys champion at the boys track and field state meet Saturday at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium.
“It was a huge relief, a lot of weight off my shoulders,” said Reiser, who finished in 9:03.6, about four seconds ahead of Perrier. “I’ve always dreamt of this moment. I just never knew if I was going to become a state champion or not. It hasn’t really set in yet.”
Reiser was unable to pull off the distance double, returning about three hours later to take seventh in the 1,600, but he was thrilled to be McHenry’s first boys state champion.
Stacy Pierce won the girls Class AA high jump state championship in 1994. George Koch (100-yard dash, 1964), Noel Figueroa (Class AA 200, 2005 and 2006) and Corey Szamlewski (3A pole vault, 2010) all had state runner-up finishes for the Warriors.
“It’s very humbling and I’m very honored to represent my school out here the best way possible,” Reiser said.
Reiser was congratulated after winning the 3,200 by former Lebanon star Craig Virgin, one of the most famous runners in state history with three state titles in 1972 and 1973.
McHenry coach Dennis Hutchinson said his race video of Reiser’s victory suffered a little.
“I was filming and the last 300 he started to kick and it looks like an earthquake, my hands were shaking,” Hutchinson said. “When he kicked at 200 left, nobody stood a chance.”
Four other local entries placed in Class 3A on Saturday, led by Cary-Grove’s Ricky Hurley (second in discus) and Crystal Lake South’s Kyle Hedge (third in shot put). McHenry’s Kyle Postal cleared 6-6 for eighth in the high jump and Crystal Lake South’s 4x800 team of Drew Kopfman, David Lenzini, Jon Prus and Kyle Radosevich took ninth.
Hurley threw 176-7, which was better than his throw in Friday’s preliminary competition, but not enough to catch Benet Academy’s Stephen Hubona (185-1).
“I’m a little happier today,” Hurley said. “I’m kind of stoked to get second place. That means next year I’ll be winning it.”
Hedge’s 58-5 preliminary throw stood up through the finals for third place, the Gators’ highest boys placement in school history.
“I’m happy,” Hedge said. “Coming in, I wanted to win, but I’m content with top three. I [got a personal record] by 2 feet, so I can’t be mad about that.”
Postal also landed a career-best when he cleared 6-6 on his first attempt in the high jump. He did not miss until his three jumps at 6-7, which gave him eighth over Belvidere North’s Todd Berkenpas and Oak Park-River Forest’s Chris Wright-Madison, who also made 6-6.
“It’s a great way to end my high school career,” Postal said. “I would have liked to do a little better, but I’m happy with what I got.”
South’s 4x800 team had reached the state meet for seven consecutive years, but had not medaled until Saturday. The Gators knocked three seconds off their qualifying time with a 7:50.26. Lenzini, Kopfman and Radosevich are seniors, who missed their commencement Saturday to run. Prus is a freshman.
“I wouldn’t change anything about it,” Lenzini said. “To finish on the [award stand] is all I can ask for.”