SALEM — The Marion Wildcats finished second at the Salem Class 2A boys track and field sectional, advancing five individuals and two relay teams to next week’s state championship.
"I’m super excited," said Marion coach Eli Baker. "We had a lot of things stacked against us tonight because it was graduation tonight, and that not only affects kids who wanted to come to the meet, it’s also a morale kicker when some of your guys are missing, but the guys who were here gave it their all."
Josh Schmid led the Wildcat contingent, winning the discus throw with a heave of 160-02.00 to beat Jackscon Ivers of Waterloo by 4-05. Jordan Bartok of Harrisburg also qualified for state with a throw of 146-11.0.
Also qualifying for Marion were Stuart Adkinson with a second place finish in the 300-meter hurdles, Michael Rutkowski and John Bruce with second and third place finishes in the 1600-meter run, and Levi Bryant with a fourth place finish in the 800-meter run.
The 4x800 relay team of Bryant, Bruce, Timothy Surburg and Rutkowski got the meet started with a bang for the Wildcats by setting the school record with a time of 7:58.23, also qualifying despite finishing third.
The 4x400 relay team of Surburg, Bryant, Adkinson and Rutkowski finished the meet by qualifying for the state tournament with a second place finish with a time of 3:27.22.
Harrisburg senior Niko Neal dominated the hurdles, winning the 110-meters with a time of 14.36, beating Steve Harris of Cahokia by almost a full second. He completed the sweep with a win in the 300-meters over Adkinson with a time of 38.97.
"It was very fast in between the hurdles in the 110," Neal said. "I started hitting the first three hurdles and then it entered my brain it was time to stop hitting them and I corrected it in the last half. I had to work really hard in the 300. I was in lane four — the fast lane — but six, seven and eight has an advantage if they have the speed to take the lead."
Carterville senior Austin Knight also took home two titles. In his signature event — the 1600-meter run — he held off Rutkowski by .43 seconds with a time of 4:22.22. He also qualified in the 800-meter run, edging Hayden Wimberly from Salem by .55 seconds with a time of 1:56.36.
Other first place finishers were Knight’s teammate Jack Currie in the shot put over Gage Wells from Herrin with a throw of 53-02.00, and Mount Vernon junior Eli Badger qualifying for the third time in the pole vault by clearing 15-00.00. Harrisburg’s Kody Cavender finished second by clearing 13-00.00 to also qualify.
In team scores, Carterville tied for fourth with Cahokia. Harrisburg finished sixth, Centralia seventh and Mount Vernon eighth.
Centralia had four second place finishes, with Matthew Patrick finishing second to Edwards Wilson from Mascoutah in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes, while Dontea Jones qualified in the triple jump by finishing second. The 4x200 relay team of Johnathan Keeler, Brent Deadmond, Bailey Horst and Akeel Johnson also qualified.
In addition to Badger, Mount Vernon also qualified Tramell Hawkins with a second place finish in the high jump, Evan Owens with a third place finish in the triple jump and Brody Rutherford with a fourth place finish in the 300 hurdles.
"We’re satisfied —we had a good day," said Mount Vernon coach Clint Turner. "Our only surprise might have been the freshman in the high jump. He’s been right there at that qualifying mark. He hasn’t jumped 6-3 yet, but he been real close to it."
The other state qualifiers were Ethan Cherry from Carbondale with a second place finish in the 3200-meter run and Deion Edwards from Carterville with a second place finish in the 400-meter dash.