Taking in the Ogle County Track & Field Meet


There were a couple of notable items from the Ogle County Track & Field Meet. In the boys portion, the 119.33 to 119 win by Forreston-Polo over Rochelle was the closest margin in the 50-year plus history of the meet. Additionally, Andrew Nuyen of Rochelle became the first pole vaulter in the county to crack the 15-foot barrier.

Not having any pole vaulters, let alone facilities to practice on, Forreston-Polo gave up 14 points in that event to Rochelle in the team scoring. They made up that handicap by winning the meet’s final event, the 1,600-meter relay.

However, they needed one other team to finish ahead of Rochelle in the relay to pull out the narrow .33 win. It was Stillman Valley coming to the rescue by taking second, while Rochelle settled for third.

Instead of only focusing on baseball and weightlifting in the spring, Stillman Valley boys track has recently made strides under coach Matt McMullen, a former state medalist pole vaulter for Byron.

For now, though, the balance of power lies with Forreston-Polo. The perennially-strong team looks to be even stronger in the years to come with a standout freshman group.

Congratulations to the F-P girls for making it a clean sweep with a 102-96 win over Rochelle. It was its second straight county title.

It was nearly 50 years ago in this same meet that I competed against eventual Class A state champ Jerry Champlain of Stillman Valley in the pole vault. Thus, it was special for me to witness a kid young enough to be a grandson make that momentous 15-foot vault.

Sophomore Andrew Nuyen has the potential to be one of the finest ever to come out of Illinois in the vault. But, there is another sophomore from Bloomington Central Catholic that has gone over 17 feet.

These youngsters keep getting better and better. One advantage Nuyen has is a pole vault pit to practice on at his Creston home. His exploits might be the biggest thing in town since Lyle Headon put it on the map for his meat market.

It’s not just the boys either. On Friday at her conference meet, Mia Strahm of Elmwood became the first girls in Illinois to make 14 feet.

That effort ranks No. 3 in the country and though Strahm is a junior, she is opting to move on to college early and forego her final season of eligibility.

It wasn’t that many years ago that a lawsuit against the IHSA was needed to allow girls to pole vault. In a chauvinistic attitude, officials at the IHSA had more many decades considered girls physically incapable of handling the rigors of vaulting.

How wrong that attitude proved to be, much in the same manner women were not allowed to compete in the Boston Marathon.

As expected, Byron (2A) and Forreston (1A) picked up No. 1 seeds in baseball sub-sectionals. Icing on the cake will be winning regionals to advance to their own home sectionals. Post-season begins May 13.

Byron does have a long road trip with its regional at Port Byron, while Forreston goes to a familiar site at AFC.

In 2A softball, Stillman Valley picked up a No. 1 sub-sectional seed and will be close to home at the Oregon regional. Marengo, a traditional power and also a No. 1 sub-sectional seed, will host the sectional.

Another potential foe from that sectional is Aurora Central Catholic. SV would have to get through both ACC and Marengo to make the super-sectional, where a tough Elmhurst IC might be waiting.

In 1A softball, Dakota looks like the area team to beat in the sectional.

With so many students driving or being dropped off at school, Oregon held a “Walk, Roll or Ride” day, with awards for the best-decorated bikes. In all parts of the country, something like this is badly needed to promote healthier options and get cars off the streets.

According to national data, only 1-in-10 kids walk or bike to school. Americans of all ages are less active, with students particularly at risk for long-term health issues because of being chauffeured everywhere or sitting at home more.

A comment I often hear from area coaches is that athletes come into sports with far less physical endurance than past generations, though weight training has progressed.

Finally, in this day and age of fans being charged entrance fees for everything from varsity down to grade-school age athletic events, it was refreshing to see Rochelle retain their long-standing tradition of not charging an admittance fee to the county track meet.

Andy Colbert is a longtime Ogle County resident with years of experience covering sports and more for multiple area publications.