By Dan McGrath

Three first-place efforts and a remarkable performance by freshman Chase Jordan carried Leo’s track team to a third-place finish in the IHSA Class 1-A Sectional held at Hope Academy on Wednesday, May 17.

As a result, the Lions will send two relay teams and three individual qualifiers to Charleston for the IHSA state meet at Eastern Illinois University on May 25-27.

Leo earned 66 points in the sectional, which left the Lions third behind host Hope Academy (104 points) and the Chicago Latin School (91). But Jordan was one of the meet’s top individual performers, anchoring the 4×100 and 4×200 relay teams to first-place finishes and placing third in the 100 meters. His time of 11.33 seconds bettered the state-meet qualifying standard of 11.35 and sends him on to Eastern.

Seniors Isiah Knox, Ja’mari Winters and Kevin Jackson joined Jordan on the victorious 4×100 team, turning in a time of 43.96 seconds to beat out runner-up North Lawndale (44.35) and host Hope (44.52).

Knox, Winters and Jackson set up Jordan’s anchor leg in the 4×200, and he brought the Lions home in 1:33.20, ahead of North Lawndale (1:33.40) and Hope (1:34.98).

Leo’s 4×400 relay team placed third and missed qualifying as Knox, Winters, junior Lordan Black and senior Tim Durr came in at 3:40.62, behind Latin (3:38.57) and Beacon Academy (3:39.48). They needed to better 3:35.17.

Junior Joshua Ball will make a return trip to the state meet after winning the triple jump with a 41 feet, 8 inch effort. Ball also placed eighth in the high jump, two spots behind sophomore teammate Neil Anderson. Both cleared 5 feet 5 inches, but Anderson had fewer misses. Kejuan Williams of Clark won the event with a leap of 5-11.

Leo’s other individual state qualifier is sophomore Nick Armour, who placed second in the shot put at 39 feet 8 inches, behind only Sam Forst of Francis Parker, who won the event with a heave of 40-5. Junior teammate Joshua Burke was fourth at 36-4. 

Junior Garry Brown gave the Lions third-place points in the discus (102 feet, 5 inches), where Christ the King’s Patrick Walker dominated with a throw of 141-6. Leo’s Xavier Robinson placed sixth at 96-6. Sophomore Marshawn Durr accounted for a fifth-place finish in the long jump at 19 feet, 5 inches, while junior teammate Lawrence Lee was sixth at 19-2. 

Jordan seems ready to take his place among Ryan Shields, Chris Watkins, Keith Harris and Theo Hopkins in the pantheon of great Leo sprinters. That can only bode well for the Lions’ track-and-field future.