HERRIN — The Marion Wildcats may not have won the team title at the Herrin Sectional, but they made a little history Wednesday night and will be well-represented in the Class 2A portion of the IHSA State Track and Field Meet next weekend.
Marion will have two throwers in both the shot put and discus events for the first time in school history, while hurdle runner Stuart Adkinson also made himself a double-qualifier in both the 110 and 300-meter races and the Wildcats won the 4x800 relay in season-best fashion to send more athletes to Charleston.
Adkinson finished second in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.83 seconds, an eyelash behind Jamariantte Burgess of East St. Louis, who was clocked at 14.78.
"I had the first four or five hurdles," Adkinson said. "He came back. My trail leg was a little lazy."
A little bit later, Adkinson placed fifth in a loaded 300-meter field but his time of 40.38 was just ahead of the state qualifying time of 40.54.
"He's in and he lives to race another day," said Marion coach Eli Baker. "He's a veteran at state so I think he's going to do great and score in both races this year."
In the throwing rings, Marion junior Josh Schmid won the discus with a heave of 154 feet, 11 inches with teammate James Gunn also reaching the qualifying mark with a throw of 145-2.
"My best throw was my second throw because I had already qualified for state so I told myself to speed it up and it worked out all right," Schmid said. "I wish it had been in the 160-range but I'm satisfied with it."
And at the shot put, Schmid pushed out a personal-best mark of 52-5.5 — topping his previous PR by almost a full foot — to place second and qualify.
Gunn also reached the standard with a throw of 48-6.25 to qualify for his first trip to state as a senior. Gunn and Schmid will be joined by Carbondale's Tavaris Hill (50-4.5) and Harrisburg's Zach Gibbs (49-3) at the state meet.
"The throws have really helped carry our team this year," Baker said. "The environment those throwers have is amazing and being an early event it always gets the ball rolling for our team. Those are older guys and they're leaders so we're really excited."
Amazingly, both Schmid and Adkinson suffered knee injuries during the football season and had slow starts to the track season but are peaking at the right time.
"After both of them having major knee surgery in the fall and recovering," Baker said, "it tells you what kind of an athlete they both are."
Marion's 3,200-meter relay of Tim Surburg, Steven Kosco, Matthew Crabtree and Taylor Dreyer posted a winning time of 8:16.21 ahead of Mascoutah (8:22.65) for another strong entry at O'Brien Stadium.
Carbondale qualified both its 800 and 1,600 relays and will also send high jumper Martiez Pinnick and mile-runner Ethan Cherry to the state meet.
Other local qualifiers were Herrin's Drew Ringel in the 800, Murphysboro's Logan Sullivan in the 400, Mount Vernon's Eli Badger in the pole vault, West Frankfort's C.J. Johnson in the high jump and Herrin's Billy Braid in the triple jump.
Badger was the winner in the pole vault at 14-9. Marion's Dyson Roye and Harrisburg's Kody Cavender both cleared 12-6 but came up six inches short of the state-qualifying height.