By JOE STEVENSON
CHARLESTON – Finally, in the last race of his spectacular junior season, Finn Schirmer lost.
The Marengo junior ran the fastest time of his life in the Class 2A 200 meters (21.67 seconds) at the IHSA Boys Track and Field State Meet, but three runners finished ahead of him in a tight race.
Schirmer was disappointed for a few moments, since the loss kept him from winning four individual events Saturday in the state finals at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium.
When Schirmer realized his monumental accomplishment – three championships and a fourth-place finish – combined with teammate Aaron Shepard’s fourth in the high jump put the Indians in second place as a team, he was all smiles.
“That [team finish] is amazing,” Schirmer said. “Going in, we thought it would be possible to be in the top three. I love that guy, Aaron Shepard. All the points today, we earned every one. I’m glad I got to go out there and run my hardest.”
Schirmer running his hardest produced unprecedented results for Marengo and for McHenry County area boys track. His state championships in the 110 high hurdles, 100 meters and 300 intermediate hurdles were Marengo’s first boys state track titles in school history. It is the first time an area boys track athlete has won three individual titles at the state meet.
“Today was great,” Schirmer said. “I go into every race the same way. I try not to pay a lot of attention to the guys on the left and right of me, I just try to run my race.”
Schirmer ran 14.22 to win the 110 high hurdles, just ahead of Cahokia’s Steve Harris (14.29). He ran 10.62 in the 100, the next race, to beat Thornridge’s Leondre Pollard (10.78). Schirmer came back later to win the 300 hurdles in 37.71, his second-fastest time, putting him just ahead of East St. Louis’ Jamariantte Burgess (37.82).
Pollard (21.55), East St. Louis’ Marcus Lampley (21.58) and Urbana’s Jeremiah Hamilton (21.66) edged out Schirmer in the 200, becoming the only runners to beat him this season.
“It was a good heat,” Marengo coach Brad Wignes said. “Finn was definitely tired after four races both days, but I’m very happy with the results. No one deserves it more than him. He’s a very nice kid. He’s very hard-working, it’s very well-deserved.”
East St. Louis won the team title with 84 points, Marengo (42) was second and Mahomet-Seymour (40.5) was third. Shepard contributed six points with his fourth-place finish in the high jump at 6 feet, 6 inches. Along with their individual medals, Schirmer and Shepard received team medals with their coaches and a trophy.
“[Schirmer] is one of the best athletes I’ve ever met, and I love having him on my team,” Shepard said. “He’s the nicest guy ever and I couldn’t ask for a better teammate. This year has been so much fun. He’s gotten so much better. He keeps getting bigger, stronger and faster. Just coming out and supporting him is one of the most fun things ever.”
The only other McHenry County area male athlete to win multiple individual state titles in the same year was Cary-Grove’s Josh Freeman, who won the Class 3A shot put and discus in 2012.
“I thought I could come out here and win all my races,” Schirmer said. “That’s what I was trying to do.”