Baker springs into postseason

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Photo by Jeff Vorva

Brother Rice’s Jimmy Baker could have a wild weekend with sectional volleyball and state track right after his graduation. 


When Brother Rice’s Jimmy Baker graduates tonight, Thursday night, his academic career at the Chicago school will be over.

But his athletic career will continue and he could have one wild weekend in store.

Baker is an unusual two-sport athlete as he competed in both boys volleyball and track and field this spring and the postseason for both sports could be coming to a head this weekend.

After this newspaper’s deadline, the Crusaders’ sectional top-seeded volleyball team competed in regional action and if they won, they would be in action at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at the Reavis Sectional.

Earlier in the day, 182 miles away on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Baker will try his luck in the Illinois High School Association State Track preliminaries in the high jump, triple jump and possibly the 4x200 relay.

If there are no weather issues, he is crossing his fingers that he can qualify for the finals in track, travel with his parents, Jim and Mary to Burbank, help the volleyball team make it to Tuesday’s sectional final and head back to Charleston and do some more damage in the state finals.

“This is my last week of sports and I’m looking at it like I’m going to go out and fun and hopefully do a lot of driving around,” he said. “I’m not worried about it.’’

“It should be a very interesting weekend,” Crusaders track coach Tom Wazio said. “Hopefully he has to drive to EIU twice.’’

Baker’s long jump of 21 feet, 8 inches in the cold weather at the Lyons Sectional won the event and was the 31st-best sectional distance in the state and his triple jump of 44-0 was good for second in the sectional and also 31st. The 4x200 relay team of Rob Groyon, Michael Butler-Kindle, Baker and Ty McCoy ran a 1 minute, 31.18 in the sectional, but that time was 27th-best among qualifiers.

Baker thinks his best shot at the finals is in the high jump if he can clear 22 feet.

“One good jump is all it takes,” Baker said. “I scratched in one meet by a toenail and my coach said that would have been 22 feet so I feel I’m capable of that.’’

Brother Rice’s 4x400 relay team of Josh Boulanger, Butler-Kindle, Ronan Dolan and McCoy finished second with a 3:33.49 to qualify. Justin Palmer claimed second in the 300 intermediate hurdles with a :41.73.

Also at Lyons, Oak Lawn junior Patrick Michaels took first in the discus with a 140-03 and in the shot put with a 52-7 ½.

Also in Class 3A

At Thursday’s Lockport Sectional, Sandburg (which finished third in Class 3A last season) finished sixth out of 15 teams.

The 4x800 team of Peter Demogerontas, Alex Szymanski, Nico Calderon and Martin Skucas) won with a  7:53.69, which was the fifth best sectional time. Last year, a different foursome of Sean and Chris Torpy, Tom Brennan and Dylan Jacobs broke the state record with a 7:37.36 in the finals.

Jacobs claimed the 1600 at Lockport in 4:17.47 – third best in the state.  Ayo Abiona was a sectional champ in the long jump with a 23-0 ½ -- sixth best among qualifiers.

Shepard junior Brian Hauser won the 800 at Lockport in 1:55.85 – the fifth-best sectional time in the state. Senior teammate Caleb Washington took second in the 3200 (9:25.49) while Astros junior Nieko Carter finished second in the 300 hurdles (:39.52, 12th best among qualifers) and third in the long jump (22-7, also 12th best), to qualify for state.

Stagg junior Sam Snell was a sectional champ in the 400 (:49.90) and he also claimed third in the 200 (:22.08) to qualify for state. Senior teammate Anthony Koncius claimed third in the 800 (1:57.09).

Class 2A

St. Laurence finished second in the Lisle Sectional on Friday with 67 points, well behind champion Marmion’s 115.

Lonnie Chambers took first in the discus with a 140-5 and Junior Tyree Colbert qualified with a second-place finish in the high jump with a 5-9.

Junior Toriano Clinton took fourth in the long jump with a 21-4 1/4 and junior teammate Alex Saunders claimed fourth in the triple jump with a 42-8 1/4.

Evergreen Park’s 4x200 relay team of Colin O’Dwyer, Eric Williams, David Torres and Tajuan Ingram finished first with a 1:33.55 and 4x100 team of Dwyer, Ingram, Damon Turner and Williams finished second with a :44.46.

Mustangs junior Kobe Green took second in the triple jump with a 43-6 ½ (13th best sectional distance) and second in the 110 high hurdles (:16.18). Turner took second in the 300 intermediate hurdles with a :41.73.

Class 1A

Chicago Christian finished third at the Seneca Sectional on May 17.

Senior Ben Friesen won the sectional title in the 400 with a :50.84, good for sixth-best in the state among qualifiers. Last year, he finished fifth. Even though he didn’t win the long jump, his second-place sectional finish (22-1) to Immaculate Conception’s Jordan Rowell (22-6) was third best in the state.

Junior Braydon Roberts won the triple jump with a 42-09 – fifth best in the state.

Sophomore Casey Starostka was second in the discus (127-7) and senior Connor Pearson qualified in the 200 dash (:23.21).