GENESEO — Mistakes can happen at any time on the track, but the best are able to bounce back from the setbacks.
That's exactly what happened in the 3,200 relay for Geneseo High School at the Western Big 6 boys ABC invite on Saturday afternoon.
The baton was dropped between the second and third legs of the race, but Justin Johnson and Hunter Clark-Holke finished the race strong and took first place with a time of 8 minutes, 40.53 seconds after trailing second-place Moline for most of the race. The Maroons finished in 8:41.51.
Johnson felt the baton slip out of his hands but once he started running his leg, there was no stopping him.
"I was pretty mad at myself for dropping it," Johnson said. "After that, the adrenaline took over and I just focused on closing the gap and letting the energy burn off."
Clark-Holke was the anchor in the race and ultimately passed Moline anchor Jaeger Norton.
"It was one of my first times racing in the 800," Clark-Holke said. "I had to learn to pace myself on the fly and use the guy in front of me to keep up. At the end, I kicked in to full gear."
Quincy took the win in Division A with 124 points, just beating Moline (117). Galesburg finished third with 96 points.
There was another close call in the 400 relay between Rock Island and Moline.
The Rocks' anchor Jayden Bomelyn was handed the baton with a lead, and it was the good exchange between himself and Darius Tongo that helped Bomelyn hold off Moline anchor Boukary Mbengue.
"I knew he was faster than me, so I really had to rely on my guys to get the lead for me," Bomelyn said. "We worked a lot on exchanges this week and really cracked down. It wasn't a perfect exchange and we can do better, but it was good enough today."
Rock Island finished with a time of 44.21 seconds, just two-hundredths of a second faster than Moline in second. It took everything that Bomelyn had to get the win.
"I was able to ward him off and throw my chest out for the win," Bomelyn said. "The hard work from all of us in the past few weeks has paid off."
The hard work from Moline's Rob Pulliam continues to pay off as the junior placed first in the high jump with a height of 6 feet, 5 inches. He finished second in the triple jump at 43 feet, 10 inches.
His personal best of 6-8 is still the second best in the state of Illinois.
"I want to get my form down and keep working hard," Pulliam said. "It's still my first year and I'm definitely not mad at myself because I'm already at a good height."
In the pole vault, Geneseo junior Malakai Schaad tied his personal best vault of 14 feet, 1/2 inch and took first place. Going forward, Schaad just wants as many attempts as he can get in a competitive environment.
"I'm mostly concerned about volume," Schaad said. "I've been getting my steps down and have done well moving up the pole, but the competition experience is really valuable."
It was a Maple Leafs sweep in the pole vault, with Malakai's freshman brother Cooper Schaad taking first place in flight B with a height of 13 feet and Clark-Holke finishing first in flight C at 11-6.
Above all else, Schaad is just happy to be competing again after losing the 2020 season due to COVID-19.
"I'm just excited to be out here," Schaad said. "It's going to be a difficult season, but hopefully I can prove I have what it takes down at the state meet."