MONTICELLO — Smiles abounded in Monticello, and a lot of them were coming from the athletes wearing purple jerseys during the boys' sectional track and field meet Friday.
The Sages had a big night, highlighted by a few quadruple state qualifiers.
Included in that group was senior Steve Schroeder, who pulled a heavy workload by running the mile, 2-mile, 4x400 and 4x800 relays. He advanced in all four.
"It was definitely new for me," Schroeder said. "This was kind of my final challenge. This is my last home meet in Monticello, so it's a little sad. I feel like I left everything on the track. Running the quadruple wasn't quite as tiring as I thought. You get some momentum, win some races and it carries you along."
Schroeder opened his day by running the opening leg in the 4x800, which Monticello finished second in with a time of 8 minutes, 17.15 seconds.
He followed that up by setting a meet record in the 3,200 meters (9:31) and won the 1,600 after holding off a late kick from Schlarman's Jesse Hahne.
"I saw his shadow," said Schroeder about the mile. "I knew I had to finish it. It wasn't quite as exciting as last year's sectional when it came down to the final 50. I was surprised to see him go for it, but it was fun. I like competing against guys going all out. I hope he does well at state, and I'll get another chance to race him in the finals."
Schroeder also helped Monticello qualify on time in the 4x400, where he ran the anchor.
He'll head to Charleston for the state meet as a favorite in the mile and 2-mile.
"I really want to do the triple crown this year: cross-country, two-mile and mile," Schroeder said. "I think it's completely within reach. I can do this. I'm not going to give an inch. I really want those races.
"In terms of times, I'm aiming for the state record of 9:10 in the 2-mile," he said. "I haven't run a fresh 3,200 since March. I'm hoping I can get a chance, now that I'm stronger and fitter than I was a while a go. I just have to make up 15 seconds. I think I can do that."
Schroeder was one of several Monticello state qualifiers.
Junior Vinny Strack also pushed through in four events, running the anchor leg on the Sages' 4x100 and 4x200 relays, as well as the third leg of the 4x400. He also completed a Monticello 1-2 finish in the 110-meter hurdles, where he was edged by junior Tyler Scott.
In the field events, Monticello had Drew Benson advance in the discus and Daniel Welling pushed through in the high jump after clearing a personal-best 6 feet, 6 inches. Luke Zimmerman also won the pole vault.
It was an active night for St. Joseph-Ogden, which was neck and neck with Monticello in the team standings.
Seniors Zeke Elkins and Alex Arteaga highlighted the evening, combining for six state qualifiers, the final of which came in the final race of the night in the 4x400 relay.
Elkins edged Sangamon Valley's Eric Leonard to win the race in a 50-meter sprint that had Elkins thinking one thing. "Don't get beat," Elkins said. "I knew Eric was tired because he had run three events before this. I knew I could beat him, but I had to just go. When he came up on me I made him work and tried to push him up to Lane 2. We were side by side coming down, and I knew it was going to be close."
The relay wrapped up a busy day for Elkins, who also advanced in the 400 and 800.
"I'm definitely exhausted," Elkins said. "My legs are on fire, but I feel great. I can't wait for state. This was a real confidence-booster. I'm excited now. I want to run again."
Arteaga ran the third leg of the 4x400 and made up a slight deficit with a sprint in the final 200 meters before passing to Elkins.
The relay capped a 4-for-4 day for Arteaga, who advanced with second-place finishes in the long jump (21-5) and triple jump (42-3 3/4). He also pushed through in the 300-meter hurdles with an overall win.
"My jumps went well," Arteaga said. "I only jumped once in each event, hit my qualifying and moved on."
Other area qualifiers included Austin Wenskunas (Argenta-Oreana) and Malik Williams (Judah Christian) in the long jump; David Wenzel (Unity) in the pole vault; Kaleb Weaver (Salt Fork) in the triple jump; and Alec Dutton (Salt Fork) in the discus and shot put.
Official results in the races were unknown immediately after the meet due to computer problems.