For Myles Ketelsen, well, the senior has become 'an ol' hand' at this … while Jennie Block, well, one might say, the sophomore is 'the new kid on the block.'
On Thursday, at the Little Illini Conference Meet at Marshall High School, both Flora track and field standouts were winners in four events each, with Ketelsen claiming a third straight Most Valuable Athlete honors for his effort, while Block earned the honor for the first time.
And the pair's points via blue-ribbons had even broader benefits, with Ketelsen leading the Wolves to their first LIC championship since 2004, while Block led the Wolfgals to a runner-up finish in the LIC.
“It's a great feeling for the boys,” said Flora track coach Phil Leib of the Wolves championship. “They earned it. It wasn't anything I did. They just performed to a max effort. They did a great job with it and 'hat's off' to each and everyone of them.
Leib added. “People will talk about Myles and the performance he put on today, but to win a conference meet, you've got to have seconds and thirds, and place in each and every event, getting points everywhere you can, whether it's a fifth or sixth place. All those points add up and next thing you know – you're LIC champs.
“Myles Ketelsen – what do you say about him,” Leib said. “I put him in an event that he's never done before (the triple-jump). I just thought we needed some extra points, and it turns out we did. After years of coaching experience, I figured we might need some and it came down to his last jump. He was a half-inch behind and in second place and he said 'I've got to do it one more time' and he jumps and wins it by a foot, along with the long jump, the 100 and 200 (meters).
“Winning the 100 and 200, not only setting LIC records, but with a new (Flora) school record with a 10.49 (seconds) in the 100 which is one of the fastest in the state, if not the fastest,” Leib added. “Then, in the 200, he broke the 22 (second) plateau at 21.9. I had him at 21.78, but we won't split hairs. Just a great performance by a great athlete. One of the best you'll ever see at Flora in track.”
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Ketelsen said. “This might be the greatest day of my life. This is crazy.”
Of the triple-jump, Ketelsen said. “No I had never done that before. I don't believe it's going to become a every meet routine, but it was what we needed to win this. We were down by three points, and they needed me to get the first. I wasn't going to do my last jump because I was hurting, but I went up there, the wind was blowing and I knew I had it and took off.”
Of the Wolves LIC championship, Ketelsen said. “I really pushed the guys and really stressed to them that we had a really good shot. I was a little nervous coming in because a lot of the guys were a little hesitant, but they came out today and really gave it all they had. Everybody was where they needed to be, and we came away with a title.”
Of Flora's other track and field MVP, Wolfgal coach Jessica Heiden said.
“Jennie, an MVP, she's worked so hard for this and I'm so proud of her,” Heiden said. “She knew who she had to beat today, and she went out and she got them. Jennie did everything I expected of her today and more. I'm not surprised with anything Jennie did today.”
Block won both the 100 and 200 meter dashes at the LIC, along with the long jump, and running the anchor led on the Wolfgals winning 800 meter relay team.
“I trained hard for today, and have been getting better and better” Block said, but was quick to credit her Wolfgal teammates. “Our 4x2 relay was really impressive today. Jessica (Staley) did really well. All three of the other girls (Brittany Ray and Cassie Kennedy) did well, and we had our best time (of the season).”
Block, the anchor or final leg of the 800 meter relay, added with a smile. “I was a little nervous, because when they gave it to me (the last baton hand-off) and I just went whoosh.
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“I knew I would have to push it,” Block said of the 200 meters. “I knew it would be close between me and the (Henry) girl from Marshall, and I knew I had to sprint through it. I knew I would have to sprint all the way. I won by three-tenths of a second.”
Heiden said. “She (Block) had a nice strong lead in the 200 (meters), but she knew that girl from Marshall (Madison Henry) was coming up behind her and she took off.
“I am looking forward to see what Jennie has in store for (IHSA) Sectionals,” Heiden said.
Of the Wolfgals runner-up effort at the LIC , Heiden said. “I'm extremely excited about second-place. The girls really worked hard. We got seven first-place finishes. My relay teams came out and performed. My 4x2 (800 meter relay) and 4x8 (3200 meter relay), both came out and had personal bests today. The 4x8 by 15 seconds. (Helen Leib, Isabel Schrader, Isaura Carro and Taylor Allen). That gets them ready for (IHSA) Sectionals and that's coming.”
READ THE FULL STORY IN THE TUESDAY, MAY 8, ADVOCATE-PRESS