Lukas Verzbicas, the Lithuanian-born sophomore-to-be from Lincoln Way Central in New Lenox, lived up to all the hype on Saturday night, pulling away from fellow superstar Solomon Haile of Sherwood, MD, to win the 2-mile at the Midwest Distance Gala in 8:53.98. The crowd at Benedictine University in Lisle was on its feet as Luke dug down to pull away from Haile after briefly trailing on the
fifth lap. It was a very impressive finish that began unfolding with about 600 yards to go. Haile finished in second with an 8:56.08, barely holding off a familiar rival, Graham Bezell of Anholton, MD, who was third in 8:56.65. In another great event, Andrew Springer of Rhode Island won the boys' mile in 4:02.90, beating surprising Peter Callahan of North Shore Country Day, who ran 4:05.20, and Pat McGregor of Hoover, AL, who was third in 4:07.01. Two Illinois girls went 1-2 in the girls' mile. It was Stephanie Brown running a great 4:40.12 to edge Lizzy Hynes, who ran 4:51.91. This was one great track meet. And yes, when Lukas flung his victory flower bouquet into the packed stands, I caught them. A bit embarrassed, I handed them off to a woman in the row behind me. Pardon the blurry photos! They show Luke biding time behind Solomon at the end of Lap 7 and then his decisive gap on the final turn.