Batavia's track program for both boys and girls has been enjoying great results for years under direction of Coach Dennis Piron and staff. Recently the team took a first place trophy in the 4 X 200 relay while other athletes qualified for finals and two high jumpers took third and sixth in state. We asked Coach Piron to fill us in on how the year progressed both with his BHS kids and his own children competing in track and field and soccer.
Batavia's 4 X 200 Relay won the Illinois State Championship. When did this goal start to come together?
The athletes on the 4 X 200 team were Jordan Birkhaug, Jay Hunt, Jeremiah Evers and Michael Stanley.
One of our athletes Reggie Phillips helped the team qualify for state and was replaced on the 4 X 200 by Stanley. Phillips then ran lead off for our 4x4 and ran an exceptional time that got the 4x4 into the state finals as well.
It all took place because Michael Stanley talked to me right after Sectionals about dropping out of the 400 at IHSA even though he had qualified in that event and won sectionals. But he believed he could really help the 4 x 200 team get in "high" medal contention. So we made a switch at state by moving Jay Hunt to the 2nd leg and Michael to the anchor. The other kids that ran on that team all year include Reggie Phillips, Chad McMarrow, Tom Stuttle, Julian Davis and Josh Young. So in many ways the state championship really was a team effort.
Ironically the relay team- which has been made up of 8 or 9 different kids this season- had not "won" a first place at Conference or Sectionals (3rd). We qualified with a very good time at Sectionals but honestly I felt our 4x4 was our strongest relay overall. They did not have a goal of winning state but believed they could compete with anyone. Michael ran a legendary anchor (I timed 21.0) and the rest is history!
What is the hardest part about winning a relay?
EXCHANGES! But I believe they key to that group was the long sprint strength they all possess and the ability to charge the exchange zone. Chemistry between all the guys was a big theme all year and they definitely had that! We did not have the ability to do alot of exchange work this season outdoors with issues at BHS so video of prelims at State were used to make adjustments and the guys did an incredible job of improving.
What are the athlete's names on the team, and what other events do they do? (PRIMARILY ALL SPRINTERS/400)
Jay Hunt actually qualified in 4 events along with the state champs relay. He also did the HJ, 200 and 4x100. Jordan Birkhaug made it in the 4x100, 4x200. Jeremiah qualified in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x4oo, Stanley made it in the 4x100, 400, and 4x400- but switched to 4x2.
You also had two high jumpers place in the state meet. How high did they jump, and did they set any school records.
Jay Hunt and Peter Rudelich are tied at 6'8" with our school record and Jay jumped 6'9" indoors. They placed 3rd and 8th at the State meet. It goes all the way back to 1912.
How many years have you been coaching track now in Batavia?
Since 1989-1990 season.
Do you keep count of how many athletes place at state?
On our website we have a complete list of all the athletes from Batavia that have placed at the state track meet.
How did your son Peyton do at NCAA Division III track and field nationals?
He placed 4th in the 400 Hurdles at Nationals- his first time in an individual event- he has had a great experience there so far! (Now a 4 time All-American and Indoor National Champions!)
He was another example of how kids can grow up in a sport like track & field and improve greatly from middle school through Senior year- Coach Di- our retiring hurdle coach- coached him well!
You coach football, but your daughter Alex played soccer at Batavia. Any advice for dads and moms on kids involved in other sports?
Just love them and enjoy watching them play and build relationships through athletics.They will be done with sports before you know it and hopefully your relationship with them and athletics is a positive learning experience- good or bad.
What does a coach think about while up in the stands watching kids compete at that level?
That they are successful and perform at their best on that date- at that moment. I am usually excited and cheer alot although they probably never hear- makes me feel better.
What advice would you give if a parent wants their child to have a good experience in sports?
That's a book right there. Honestly it seems like the best experiences are built around friendships and relationships. My advice- just love them and get to know the kids they are sharing time with. Support the "team" and enjoy the time because it is over quick!
Do ever take a break between seasons?
Kind of- the first and last week of Summer usually although in the day and age you are usually always working on something related to your programs (Track & Football) and any given time. I love what I do and I have the support of an amazing wife Joanne and my kids- and have been incredibly blessed to work at the school the go to for High School. Tyler- my youngest- will be a freshman next year and looking forward to watching him grow up here!
In the photo at right, high school instructor Dennis Piron leads a student in one of the INCubator classes where students conceive and develop products from idea to execution.