GENESEO — In addition to chasing a postseason pole vault title, Geneseo junior standout Malakai Schaad was looking to soar to new heights at Wednesday's Illinois Class 2A boys' track and field sectional meet at Bob Reade Field.
Looking to clear 16 feet, Schaad had to content himself with an effort of 15 feet and one inch (4.60 meters), but that was still more than good enough for him to earn his first sectional pole vault championship.
"I found out that the way they're running the state meet this year, it would be more beneficial for me to jump higher for seeding," said Schaad, who earlier this season set the Maple Leafs' team record by clearing 15 feet and six inches. "That way, I wouldn't get stuck behind a bunch of guys.
"It's always disappointing when the P.R. doesn't come, but tonight was a good night for jumping and I had fun, even with no P.R."
With Schaad's younger brother Cooper, a freshman, also advancing in the pole vault by clearing 13 feet to tie Kewanee's Xander Gruszeczka for third place and with four second-place finishes, the Maple Leafs finished third out of the 13-team field with 63.5 points.
"We never talked about going down (to state) in the same event; it's something he latched onto when I started vaulting," the older Schaad said of his brother. "I'm glad he took an interest in it, and it'll be nice having him with me at state."
Princeton tallied 112.5 points to win the team title, with Pontiac finishing second with 83 points. Geneseo edged Western Big 6 rival Galesburg (60 points) for third, while Kewanee (29 points) took eighth and Monmouth-Roseville (23) 10th.
"To be honest with you, we went in kind of expecting to finish in fifth place," said Geneseo coach Matthew Deets. "We ended up moving up a bit from where we wanted to be. I was very pleased with the guys' all-around effort."
In addition to winning the sectional hosts' lone individual gold medal, Malakai Schaad also mined silver with the Leafs' 4x400 relay. He teamed with Will Taylor, Nate Ryerson and Ethan Holke to post a time of 3:33.21
"The thing with the relays, we did not have a very large team this year due to a lot of sports overlapping," said Schaad. "I ended up jumping into a relay spot, and I didn't mind at all. It wasn't planned, but I was happy to do it for the team."
Also punching their ticket to the state finals in Charleston with silver medals were the field-event duo of Karson Emry (1.82 meters in the high jump) and Aiden Coppejans (13.01 meters in the triple jump), along with William Plumley in the 3200 (10:32.93).
Boilers' DeJesus wins first sectional title: Despite battling a strained hamstring the last couple of weeks, Kewanee senior Melcon DeJesus was not about to miss out on his final high school track postseason, especially after losing all of his junior season because of COVID-19 cancellations.
Concentrating his efforts on the 400, DeJesus made it pay off as he captured his first sectional win in that event with a time of 50.79 seconds, edging Galesburg's Plamedi Nseka by five-hundreths of a second. Two years ago, he was was the sectional runner-up in the 400.
"I've been having a lot of leg problems, so I just wanted to do my best to win the 400," said DeJesus, who will be joined at the state meet in Charleston by Gruszeczka in the pole vault. "I didn't want to risk it all (in the other sprints)."