McHenry junior Jesse Reiser’s competition this spring has been times in record books from former area notables such as Jacobs’ Evan Jager and William Hennessy, Crystal Lake Community’s Bill Santino and Crystal Lake Central’s Alex Baker.
That will change at the boys track and field state meet Friday and Saturday at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.
There, Reiser expects challenges from the likes of O’Fallon’s Patrick Perrier, Conant’s Zach Dale, Plainfield South’s Dan Lathrop and his close friend Zack Smith of Downers Grove North.
Reiser is aiming at the distance double – winning the Class 3A 3,200 and 1,600 meters – Saturday. It seems a reachable goal the way Reiser has run, but still is a monumental task.
“I’m definitely going to try and double,” he said. “It’s pretty demanding. The lack of rest between races is tough, but others have to go through it, too.”
The 3,200 comes first, about 12:45 p.m. for Class 3A runners. The 1,600 will be about three hours later. Warriors coach Dennis Hutchinson said he and distance coach Jim Wheeler already have discussed strategy that might help Reiser pull off the double.
Competitors head to the infield of O’Brien after their finals races to receive their medals. If Reiser becomes McHenry’s first boys track state champion and wins the 3,200 – he has the state’s top sectional and season times – the
coaches may want him inside the fieldhouse adjacent to the stadium, cooling off.
“If he misses the awards, he misses it,” Hutchinson said. “The [hot] weather may hinder everybody’s performances. As soon as we can get him off the infield, we will. We want to get him some shade and some food and water to replenish him for the mile [1,600].”
St. Ignatius’ Jake Keelan pulled it off last year, and York’s Jack Driggs did it in 2011, but it’s usually difficult because some runners may skip the 3,200 to go for gold in the 1,600.
Reiser burst onto the scene two years ago with a 9:20 at the sectional meet to qualify in the 3,200 as a freshman. He ran 9:36.66 at state that year and took seventh in 9:05.40 last year.
“I’m looking forward to the competition,” Reiser said. “I know it’s going to be tough. I look forward to competing with the best runners in the state and I hope to come out on top.”
Reiser sees Perrier, who beat him by one second for the Class 3A state cross country championship, Smith and Dale as the top threats in the 3,200.
“I like the 3,200 a little better, I’m more used to it [at state],” Reiser said. “That’s the one I concentrate on most.”
Reiser and Dale both broke 9:00 at the Arcadia (California) Invitational early in the season, a national invitational meet. Reiser ran 8:54.31, Dale ran 8:56.35. Perrier (9:00.45) and Lathrop (9:06.71) were the other Illinois runners in that race.
Reiser did not qualify in the 1,600 last year, so this will be his first time running that race at state. His times are right with the best in the state this season.
“He’s just a competitor,” Hutchinson said. “There’s some good guys in our conference, but really no one in that top tier [at state] he races on a regular basis. I know he’s looking forward to racing some of those guys he’s become close friends with.”