Boys Track: Hawks’ Fritz hopes to exorcise 400 demons
Maine South's Joey Yonkoff won the pole vault at the IHSA 3A Boys Track Championships at Loyola on Thursday, May 17, 2012 in Wilmette. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2012 9:16AM
Tom Fritz has a on-and-off relationship with one-lap races.
When the Maine South senior was a freshman, he ran one of the best 400 meter times in the program. As a sophomore, he set the class record.
But both times he’s been part of the 4x400 relay at the state meet, Fritz has left Charleston unfulfilled.
Fritz, who’s never made the finals, hopes the race treats him better in his final season.
“I have a bit of bitterness about it,” Fritz said of the event.
For the third spring in a row, Fritz helped the Hawks win in the 1,600 relay at the sectional meet. He wants nothing more than to finally carry that success into O’Brien Stadium.
Griffin Kaszina, Andy Piecyk and Michal Filipczak joined Fritz, the leadoff runner, to finish first in 3:20.86 at the Loyola sectional last week, edging out Evanston’s foursome, which clocked 3:20.87.
Maine South posted the seventh-fastest sectional time in the state.
“It’s kind of scary,” said Fritz, who said he wants to place top-nine and earn all-state.
“I feel like we have a lot of room for improvement, but I imagine the other teams feel the same way. It’s an uneasy feeling. We’re on that bubble.”
Other than some nagging shin splints, Fritz said he’s otherwise healthy after breaking his leg at last year’s state meet. Running on a stress fracture in the 1,600 relay prelims, Fritz further aggravated the injury during the race.
“I probably shouldn’t have run, but I did,” he said.
Knowing his history, the Maine South coaches handled Fritz carefully at the sectional.
They took him out of the open 400, so he would be fresh for the relay.
“I wasn’t too disappointed in the end, but I was at first,” he said. “They talked me into it.”
Filipczak also will try to put last season in the past.
The Duke-bound senior won the 800 meters in 1:51.93 at Loyola and comes in the state meet with the fastest time by nearly two seconds. He finished second in the state last year.
Zach Eckhart and Jon Vaccaro both will run in the 3,200 meters. The 4x800 relay team — Sam Steinfels, Kevin Dolan, Piecyk, Filipczak — also will represent the Hawks in Charleston.
Junior Robert Taylor kicked it down the stretch of the 1,600 to squeeze into the state meet with a time of 4:21.35.
“He was off the mark at the conference meet,” said Maine South distance coach Greg Nordahl. “We were feeling he was coming along, and we also feel like he can run better than he did.”
Joey Yonkoff also will compete at the state meet after clearing 13-feet-3 at the sectional.