Boys Track: Underwood helps New Trier relay make State
New Trier's Leland Later hugs a teammate after running the winning anchor leg of the 4x800 meter relay at the IHSA 3A Boys Track Championships at Loyola on Thursday, May 17, 2012 in Wilmette. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:50AM
New Trier’s Eric Underwood is unsure if he will continue competitive running when he gets to the University of Wisconsin.
That means the 3,200-meter relay at the state meet at Eastern Illinois, in Charleston, might be the last race of his career.
Still, the Trevians’ senior isn’t putting pressure on himself to perform. He’s going to run like he always does.
“There’s no nervous energy,” he said. “I’m trying to not make it too big. I am treating it like any other race. It’s already been a fun season, so I’m happy.”
Underwood opened the relay at last week’s Loyola sectional with a career-best split, leading the quartet to victory in a school-record 7:44.30. Underwood ran his two laps in 1:56.6 before turning it over to teammates Peter Cotsirilos, Patrick O’Reilly and Leland Later, who ran a smoking 1:51.8 anchor leg.
“The pace was so quick, I had to re-think my plan,” Underwood said. “It got real tight after the first lap. I then made my move with about 300 meters to go. I trust my training to be there when the time is right.”
All eight entries in the final heat qualified for the state meet.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said New Trier distances coach Dave Wisner, whose foursome shaved nearly six seconds off the relay’s previous record. “It was magical.”
Six of the eight qualifying squads came from the CSL.
“Sometimes, this conference goes unnoticed because it doesn’t have the same tradition and history as others, but I think people will notice now,” said Maine South distances coach Greg Nordahl.
Loyola’s Todd Ford outran Later to win the 1,600 in 4:14.89. Wisner said that Later was gassed from running his speedy anchor leg in the 3,200 relay.
It was Later’s first loss in the 1,600 this spring. He enters the state meet with the fifth-best time (4:16.56) in the event.
“Todd just beat him,” Wisner said. “Hopefully, Leland can turn the tables next week.”
Ethan Smith also qualified for the state meet by placing second in shot put with a toss of 52-feet. New Trier’s 800 relay of Ian Mulmat, Dylan Gunther, Grant Forsyth and Matt Lecinski finished in 1:29.38 to advance.