Bureau County is rich in track and field tradition and success dating back to DePue legend George Meagher in the early 1930s.
Meagher, who won the state and national long jump title in 1932 with a jump of 23-10 and went on to captain the University of Notre Dame track team, held the county long jump record for 66 years. Then came along Princeton's Nate Norman who in 1998 broke Meagher's mark on his very last jump of his career, went 24-1 1/2 to place second at State.
"I felt very satisfied after I found out I caught his record. I hope my record will outlast me. The true measure of a athlete is the history he or she leaves behind," said Norman, who
It's all about passing the torch from one great to another.
While there's a lot of recent athletes to take their place in the record books, there are plenty of oldies but goodies still standing strong.
The oldest record holder in the books is Princeton's Tom Swan, who won the mile run in 1968 with what still stands by conversions as the record for today's 1600-meter run.
PHS girls track coach Pat Hodge turned in a 1:53.3 clocking in the 800 meters (converted from yards) in the bi-centennial year of 1976 which still stands today. He keeps a close eye each year to see if his record stands. Princeton also owns three boys records in relays from the '70s.
Lonnie Hewitt of Buda Western remains the record holder in the high jump having cleared 6-10 1/4 as a sophomore in 1977. Only Hewitt (1977-79) and the legendary "Dike" Eddleman of Centralia (40-42) have won the state high jump champion three times.
The longest-standing girls record is held by Tiskilwa standout Lane Suarez, who turned in a 2:13.5 for the 800 meters in 1984. She was the State champion in both the 800 and 400 as well as the 800 medley.
Bureau Valley's Alisa Baron is not only the Bureau County record holder in the 400 meters, but she set the state record with a state champion run of 55.66 on the Big Blue Track in Charleston in 2008.
Looking back, Baron says it was was a huge accomplishment.
"I'm thankful I am able to say I set the state record — which I wouldn't have been able to do without the great coaching and motivation I received from Dale Donner. He always believed I could run faster than I imagined I could," said Baron, who also took part in county records on the Storm's 4x400 and 4x800 relays in 2006.
The biggest record-holder of them all is Hall's D.J. Glynn. He has a hat trick in the sprints with records in the 100 (10.4), the 200 (21.6) and the 400 (48.44), the latter pair set as a Class 1A State champion in 1999. He also was the state champ in the 100 in 1999, as well as the high jump, but set his county record in the 100 the year before.
Glynn was one for the spotlight. While some athletes began to shy away from the now defunct Bureau County Track Meet, electing to save their legs for bigger days ahead, Glynn told the BCR "this is my county, and I want to win it." And that he did, not to mention the State.
Some record-holders also come in pairs.
Princeton's Greg Groat has held the record in both weights since 1990, but set neither at State as the Class A champion. His best throws that year came in a 58-9 for the shot in a meet in Peoria and 189-1 for the discus at Geneseo.
"It is rather surreal that those records still stand. It means so much that people still take notice. The greatest thrill will be seeing some young kid beat one or both of them," said, noting other throwers at PHS like Mike Telfer, Scott Foresman and Pat Pence serving as his inspiration.
Groat is quick to praise the coaching he received from Steve Kiser and said it is his hope people remember Kiser's efforts when they look at his records.
"My fondest memory was the time I was able to spend and learn from Steve Kiser. What a profound influence he was on so many and what an underrated treasure the city of Princeton has with that man and his amazing family," said Groat, who lives in Yorkville and works for Midwest Environmental Consulting Services, Inc. Business Development.
Princeton's Rebekah Faber holds a distance double with times of 5:07.22 in the 1600 and 11:13.6 in the 3200 from 2003.
One record was set just a year ago when State medalist Freya Block of Neponset topped the discus mark of 131-7 set in 2005 by Bureau Valley's Madison Lebahn. Block's record comes with an asterisk, perhaps, having thrown for Kewanee High School, but the 2013 BCR Female Track of the Year, is as Bureau County as you can get.
Norman said records are made to be broken. "Come get mine," he said.
Some athlete, perhaps not yet born, will be chasing Normanone day just as he did Meagher.
• The BCR will continue this series looking at school/county records for all sports.
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