Two of the best athletes to ever compete at Plainfield Central recently earned All-American honors again in men’s track and field.
Kahmari Montgomery, who won five state titles at Central in 2014-2015, was a two-time All-American at last weekend’s NCAA Division I Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the University of Oregon.
Montgomery, a junior at the University of Houston, took seventh in the 400 meters in 45.75 seconds and also was on a fifth-place 4x400 relay team that finished in 3:04.03 to help the Cougars to a third-place showing with 35 points. That tied their best finish in the sport.
The former Wildcat standout also was an All-American in the 400 in 2016 while competing at the University of Missouri. He transferred to Houston this season and now can train with one of the greatest athletes of all time, Carl Lewis, who is an assistant coach.
Luke Winder, a two-time pole vault champ for the Wildcats in 2013-2014, fell short of becoming the first vaulter in collegiate history to capture seven outdoor and indoor titles.
The North Central College senior, the first D-III athlete to win six national titles in the event, went
5.35 meters to place second behind Monmouth College’s Dan Evers, who cleared 5.4 meters and earlier this year won the indoor national title. Winder was looking to claim his fourth straight outdoor title in pole vault.
The Cardinals scored 35 points to take second place in the competition, finishing only one point behind national champion Mount Union. It was the program’s best finish since 2011, when it repeated as national champions.
Ramos wins Cadet World Team Trials
Lockport senior wrestler Matt Ramos won the Cadet World Team Trials at 51 kg and will represent the U.S. at the Cadet World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia, on July 3 and 4.
At the end of June, he will travel to Colorado Springs to attend training camp at the Olympic Training Center, then travel to Zagreb from there.
Ramos is the fourth Lockport wrestler to represent the U.S. in a United World Wrestling event, joining Haley Augello (2011 Cadet World champion), Mark Stenberg and Tyler Johnson.
Lockport assistant coach Jameson Oster will join the coaching staff for the U.S., as well on the Croatia trip. He will be the first Lockport coach to work at the international level.
Full wrestleback for state finals
The wrestling state finals in Champaign have long been one of the marquee tournaments that the IHSA holds, but despite being among the best-attended and pressure-packed events that the association conducts, it also has been hurt by an obvious setback.
And that was that there was no true wrestleback in the competition. Unlike other tournaments throughout the season that are double-elimination events, competitors who lost in their first match at state and then had the individual who beat them eliminated in the next round, were knocked out of the competition without getting another chance to wrestle.
For example, an athlete could suffer his first defeat of the season in their first match at state, and if the person who beat him then lost in the next round, the once-beaten performer suddenly would be done for the year.
There are few aspects of state tournament competition that seemed to be more arbitrary than to see some outstanding competitor get upset or lose a heartbreaker and then to have to see their fate determined by the outcome of a match that often doesn’t go their way.
For a long time, a full wrestleback wasn’t possible because of the setup of mats and the two-day schedule at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall, which now is the State Farm Center.
But with a three-day format and room for a seventh mat, full wrestlebacks are possible, and the IHSA Board of Directors approved the nonconsent item at its Monday meeting.
Lockport coach Josh Oster is happy to see this much-needed change to the tournament.
“It’s great to have full wrestlebacks at state,” Oster said. “The Illinois state tournament is one of the deepest and toughest state tournaments in the country, so for a kid to be able to go and only wrestle one match was a travesty. This finally rights that and brings one of the premier tournaments in the country in line with where it should be.”
Other decisions of note that were decided by the IHSA’s board was making a weekly limitation of games for football players, which has been suggested for this fall but likely will be fully implemented for 2019-2020.
And a percentage enrollment classification system for team sports and a two-year cycle for schools to remain in the same class also will likely be put in place in 2019-2020.
A mercy rule was approved in girls and boys basketball with regular season games going to a running clock in the final quarter. And the boys and girls golf finals will have a cut with only the top eight teams and 24 individuals advancing to the second day.
• Curt Herron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org