DU QUOIN — The Du Quoin boys track and field team qualified a total of 13 individuals in 10 individual events and all four of its relay teams to the state meet to win its third straight Class 1A sectional title on its home track at Van Metre Field on Wednesday.
“Our kids competed well today,” said Du Quoin coach Derek Beard. “I’m very proud of them and proud of their effort.”
The Indians beat their arch rival Pinckneyville by 52 points for also the third straight year. The Indians won just four events, but finished with 11 second place finishes.
“We don’t get a lot of firsts, so we just chip away for points with seconds, thirds and fourths,” Beard said. “The kids know the importance of that. Today we had guys run the best times and did the best jumps they did all year, so that’s all you can ask.”
In addition to qualifying all four of its relay teams for next week’s state finals, Du Quoin also will have a representative in both hurdles, four of the other six running events and four of the six field events.
Senior Gavin Fisher saved his best for his last meet on his home track by winning the 110-meter hurdles by 1.65 seconds over Nashville’s Caleb Klein with a time of 16.44 and then coming back to run a personal record time of 42.34 to beat Klein again in the 300-meter hurdles by 1.18 seconds to qualify for state for the first time.
“My thoughts were to just go out there, do what I can and have fun with it,” Fisher said. “It’s my birthday tomorrow, so it was a good birthday win for me. This is my first time to go to state in high school, so it will be a good old time.”
Du Quoin junior Landen Swiney qualified for state for the second time in the 3200-meter run by shattering his previous best run with a time of 9:57.30 to beat Zach McKowen from Centralia Christ Our Rock Lutheran by 1.54 seconds.
“My previous PR was 10:19.05 and I ran that last week at conference and that’s over a 20 second PR,” Swiney said. “It’s not been my best year, so halfway through I kind of changed up some stuff and add some extra workouts with the goal being peak at this time. Last time I didn’t know what to expect at state, but I’m definitely looking to PR this time.”
Swiney also qualified in the 1600-meter run for the first time with a second place finish to Pinckneyville freshman Isaac Teel by just 0.34 seconds with a time of 4:46.40.
The only other first place finish for the Indians came in the last event of the meet in the 4x400 relay when the brothers tandem of Jaden Smith and Traijon Smith and Jon and David Gomes beat Fairfield by 2.42 seconds with a time 3:42.23.
Pinckneyville had won the other three relay events, but failed for the sweep when three of its four members had to be replaced because of injuries or the heat.
“We had three subs and those guys gave a good effort to get third,” said Pinckneyville coach Tod Rushing. “I was proud of them stepping up. You have to be good and lucky both. We had the good, but the luck wasn’t on our side.”
Teel, Steven Hirte, Dylan Bledsoe and Daniel Garavaglia won 4x800 relay with a state qualifying time of 8:28.43. Holden Hutchcraft, Joey Iaccino, Gabe Paredes and Isaac Queen won the 4x100 relay (44.69) and later the 4x200 relay (1:34.78).
“Coming into (the meet) I was real sleepy almost,” Teel said. “I didn’t have any rhythm. I had minor body aches and stuff like that. I just wasn’t feeling it. And then in the 4x800 as soon as the gun went off I felt 100 percent better and the adrenaline took over."
In addition to the relay teams and Teel in the 1600, the Panthers took first in two other individual events and finished second in another. Garavaglia won the 400-meter run (52.37) and Iaccino won the triple jump (42-09) with Queen second in the 200-meter run.
The only other individual besides Fisher to win two events was Cole Rushing. The Goreville senior earned the title of “fastest man at the meet” by winning the 100-meter dash by .39 seconds with a time of 11.15 and the 200-meter dash by .69 seconds with a state qualifying time of 22.62.
“I was happy running against really good competition,” Rushing said. “I think I ran good times for state and I’m very happy I got a new PR in the 200 and got close in the 100. I’m so happy to advance this year. I think it’s going to leave a good mark for the end of my high school career and its going make up for last year.”
Ty Barbre qualified for state for the third straight year in the 3200. The Carmi-White County senior finished third with a state qualifying time of 10:05.80.
The other first place finishers qualified for the state meet for the first time. In the field events, Landon Zurliene from Fairfield won the high jump (6-0), Jake Rush from Norris City won the long jump (21-01.5), Colton Wolters from Nashville won the discus (139-10), Mason Poland from Vienna won the shot put (47-04.5) and Nickoly Bierbaum from Centralia’s Christ Our Rock Lutheran won the pole vault (11-01.75).
In the remaining running event, Seth Hamerski from Bluford (Webber) won the 800-meter run with a state qualifying time of 1:59.66.