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Illinois runs to runner-up finish

Crystal Lake C. alum Siegmeier (Minnesota),
Lake Park grad Ziemek (Michigan St.) win events

By Kevin McGavin

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.—The 400-meter dash was the marquee event for the Illinois men over the weekend at Purdue University.

Stephon Parmilton edged out teammate DJ Zahn for his fourth-consecutive Big Ten track and field championship at the distance.

The Florida native, who relocated to Bourbonnais, Ill., made it a clean sweep of indoor and outdoor titles for the second-straight year at 400 meters with his career-best time of 45.91 seconds.

Zahn, from downstate Morton, Ill., was runner-up by one hundredth of a second.

The duo later helped Illinois to a runner-up performance in the meet-closing 1,600-meter relay Sunday afternoon.

“I am the undisputed 400-meter champion so far,” Parmilton said in a joking fashion. “It was an awesome feeling (to earn 18 points combined for the team). But mentally and physically, it hurt so bad.”

Parmilton and Zahn ran four events Sunday. The duo scored in the open 200 and 100 dashes and helped the two sprint relays to places.

“We did it too at indoor (conference),” Zahn said of Illinois’ 1-2 finish in the 400. “Every day at practice we’re neck and neck. (The final) was so close that I didn’t know who would win.”

Wisconsin captured the team championship with 121 points.

Illinois’ 109-point total was three better than Nebraska for runner-up honors.

Ohio State (80), Purdue (79), Penn State (78), Iowa (66), Indiana (51), Michigan (48), Minnesota (44) and Michigan State (37) rounded out the 11-team field.

Northwestern does not field teams in the sport.

The Illini's Vanier Joseph defended his conference championship in the 110-meter hurdles.

“I am definitely stronger in the 110s than in the (indoor) 60s (where he placed third at conference),” said Joseph, a Michigan native. “The field was completely loaded. I had to make sure I had control of my start. (The high hurdles) are my bread and butter. I love them.”

Illinois' Joe McAsey ran a tactically brilliant race to add the 800 title to the list of Illini wins. The sophomore from Minooka, Ill., showcased a dazzling burst in the final 50 meters to win in 1:47.73.

“This is my first career Big Ten title,” McAsey said. “I felt great in the first 400 meters. I think I was in fifth place. With 300 to go, a gap opened up. My coach (Ron Garner) told me that if I could make it a 100-meter race I could win with my kick.”

David Kendziera, a freshman from Mount Prospect, placed fifth in both the 110 high hurdles and the 400 intermediates.

“You have to split up the race more,” Kendziera said of the transition from the 300-meter distance in high school to the college norm. “The last 100 is always the hardest. I ran a 14.05 (in the Saturday night preliminaries). That is a PR (personal record).”

Minnesota senior Zach Siegmeier closed out his career in style.

The Crystal Lake Central alumnus won the pole vault for the third time by clearing slightly more than 17 feet, 4 inches.

“I have phenomenal coaches,” Siegmeier said. “(Minnesota) is the best place I could possibly be.”

Lake Park High School has won four-consecutive Illinois high school track and field team championships.
Two of the Lancers’ most gifted athletes in recent memory — Michigan State decathlete Zach Ziemek and Iowa high jumper Kevin Spejcher — made their presence felt over the weekend.

Ziemek captured the decathlon's 100 dash, 110 hurdles, long jump and pole vault en route to the overall title in the 10-event discipline.

“In high school I did a bunch of events, the long jump, triple jump and, obviously, the pole vault (state championship),”  Ziemek said. “That’s where (the versatility) comes from. I wanted to get the team 10 points. (The team championship) means everything.”

Spejcher cleared 7 feet in the high jump but had to settle for the runner-up due to criteria.

“It’s a great experience,” Spejcher said. “The height is very good. Seven feet has been the problem (clearing). I came here hoping to do my best.”

Dan Block, another former state champion (discus/shot) for Lake Park, was second in the hammer and seventh in the discus for champion Wisconsin.


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