Nick Swartzendruber won the state title in the 400-meter dash, and Geneseo finished fifth as a team at the state finals.
All season, Geneseo Coach Don Fredericks kept referring to Nick Swartzendruber and Reed Vanderheyden as the dynamic duo.
The senior duo displayed all of their super powers leading Geneseo to a fifth-place finish at the IHSA Class 2A State Finals on May 26.
The duo nearly won two state titles in back-to-back events at O’Brien Field, in Charleston.
“That type of competitive spirit is rare,” Fredericks said. “That type of physical gift and God-given talent is rare. That type of work ethic is rare. They are once in a career type athletes and to have both of them on the same team — it was awesome watching them experience that level of success.”
Swartzendruber won the state title in the 400-meter dash pulling ahead of defending state champion VanHarvey Vance from Rich Central in the final 10 meters.
Swartzendruber shattered the school record in the 400 finishing in 48.49.
During Swartzendruber and Vanderheyden’s four years, Geneseo has finished in 11th place, second place, fourth place and fifth place as a team.
“It changed the culture of Geneseo track,” Swartzendruber said. “Before, teams around the state didn’t know who Geneseo was, these last four years we have put Geneseo onto teams’ radar. Every single team knows who we are.”
Before the dynamic duo, Geneseo had finished higher than 15th just once at state in 1893 when Forrest Lowes placed third as a team with just his points alone.
Swartzendruber finished fourth in the 800 setting a new school record in 1:54.66.
After getting boxed in early in the 800, Swartzendruber closed hard on the leaders in the final 150-meters and nearly ran down third place.
Swartzendruber earned the nickname nasty after a juke move he made during football his sophomore year.
While nickname has faded, it stuck with Fredericks who is the last person keeping the nasty nickname alive.
“It’s an oxymoron because he’s such a gentle soul,” Fredericks said. “Except when he gets into the competitive arena. Then he’s an intense competitor.”
Vanderheyden performed a superhero type dive to the finish line in the 300 hurdles.
Vanderheyden finished runner-up (38.28) separated from champion Steven Migut (38.20) of Tolono by just .08 seconds.
A Mississippi State recruit, Vanderheyden had to navigate through traffic to just be in position for a final charge at the finish line.
“He was fouled,” Fredericks said. “Not flagrantly, but he was fouled. Another athlete crashed next to him and went partially into his lane which affected him a little bit. “He dove, he gave it everything he had. I could not be any prouder of the effort these athletes put forth.”
Vanderheyden raced to a ninth-place finish in the 110 hurdles in 15.24 to earn a deciding point for Geneseo’s team score.
Geneseo’s 4x400 relay team of Vanderheyden, Kaden Rink, Colton Pischke and Swartzendruber earned a fifth place in 3:26.58.
With the top 12 teams reaching the finals, Geneseo’s 4x800 relay team of Spencer Lindstrom, Rink, Neo Colter and Blake Duncan finished just three spots shy of qualifying for state with a time of 8:21.17.
A senior, Duncan finished 16th in the 1600 in 4:40.63 with the fourth fastest time of his career.