Prep boys' track & field storylines: Rockets ruling short distances

Prep boys' track & field storylines: Rockets ruling short distances

The regular season is in the rearview mirror for local boys’ track and field athletes, as sectional action will take place today, Thursday and Friday. Preps coordinator COLIN LIKAS checks in with athletes from a trio of teams:

TOLONO — When Steven Migut and Dawson Kaiser were sophomores, they helped the Unity boys' track and field program to fourth place in the 2016 Class 2A state meet at Charleston.

In Migut's mind, there's no reason the Rockets can't duplicate that feat in 2018. Or perhaps move up even further.

"Coach (Tim) Gateley ... he'll stay up until 3 o'clock in the morning just comparing numbers and stuff to see how good of a shot we have this year," Migut said Monday, after setting a News-Gazette Honor Roll Meet record in the 300-meter hurdles. "He's told us from the beginning, if we just buy in we can bring home the trophy, and I really think we can."

For Unity, that conversation starts and ends with its success at short distances.

Kaiser, the Honor Roll Meet's champion in the 100, ranks sixth among the state's 2A athletes in that event. Migut claims the No. 5 spot in both the 110 and 300 hurdles. The two seniors, paired with senior Jackson Schweighart and junior David Martin, have helped the Rockets to the 400 relay's No. 9 position, too.

"It's been going really well. In our relay, we just got our fastest time," Kaiser said of the foursome's 42.92 first-place clocking Monday. "Really, we just show up for practice and do what we need to do."

Both Kaiser and Migut feel there are small aspects of their individual events that can see improvement ahead of both Thursday's 2A Rantoul Sectional and next week's state meet.

For Kaiser, it's resisting the urge to tense up over the final moments of his 100. And for Migut, it's making sure his 300 hurdles technique is down pat. That could be enough to line up Unity, which won a 1A state title in 2015, for another historical performance at Eastern Illinois University.

"We have a lot of good athletes on this team this year," Migut said. "A lot of good competitors. I think we can put up a lot of points and make some noise at state."

For Knights, family matters

ARTHUR — Logan Hall is a household name in Illinois' prep distance running scene.

The Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond senior ensured that after placing first in last year's 3,200-meter run in Class 1A, while also impressing in various other track and cross-country races over his high school years. Perhaps the next big name in ALAH running will come from the same household.

Logan is destined to compete for the University of Illinois beginning next school year. His mantle with the Knights could be maintained by freshman brother Layton.

"It's awesome," Logan said of getting to suit up with his younger sibling. "He's just using me as a little goal to gauge off of. He's running well, putting in the miles. I feel like he'll be talking to (the media) one day."

Layton nearly snagged the 3,200 run at Monday's News-Gazette Honor Roll Meet, finishing less than four seconds behind Cerro Gordo/Bement junior Luke Brewer in sweltering conditions.

Logan, meanwhile, took a shot at the 800 run during the same meet. Though his postseason will focus on the 1,600 and 3,200, Logan had to see how low he could go in the half-mile after a strong previous outcome.

"Saturday, I ran 1:56.80, and that was .05 off our school record," Logan said after crossing the line in 1:57.96 on Monday. "I just wanted to see if I could pull it out (Monday). I don't think I quite got it, but it was pretty good for workout purposes."

Logan is looking forward to battles with Athens senior Wyatt McIntyre — another future Illini — and Chicago Francis Parker senior Jack McNabola when the 1A state showcase rolls around next week.

But perhaps even more enticing to Logan is the idea he and Layton could both advance from Thursday's 1A Shelbyville Sectional, most likely in the 3,200.

"That'd be awesome," Logan said. "I never imagined it. Coming into senior year, I thought, 'Oh, this is going to suck. My brother is a freshman being in high school with me.' But it's super cool."

Work never ends for Hendershot

MAHOMET — Roughly a half hour after Mahomet-Seymour sophomore Hunter Hendershot had wrapped up first place in the discus and third in the shot put at Monday's News-Gazette Honor Roll Meet, he stood inside the discus ring at Urbana High School.

His performances were solid, no doubt. But they weren't quite up to snuff for a kid with serious Class 2A state tournament aspirations.

"Usually when I have a bad day in shot, I have a good day in disc," Hendershot said after throws of 163 feet, 7 inches in the discus and 50-61 / 2 in the shot. "Threw good in disc, threw bad in shot, so that kind of moves them both to OK."

Hendershot has been better than OK in his second prep season. The youngster is following up on a pair of top-10 state finishes last year — sixth in discus and seventh in shot — by putting himself in prime position for two top-five showings this time around.

Entering Thursday's 2A Rantoul Sectional, Hendershot rates third among Illinoisans in the shot (54-8 1 / 2) and fourth in the discus (170-0).

"I've done a lot of practice, a lot of weightlifting and working on speed in the ring," Hendershot said. "That's definitely helped me out a lot."

Hendershot believes he could be among the three best athletes once the 2A state shot and discus competitions are complete, and he especially hopes to capture the shot title.

It's clear Hendershot has the power to achieve those goals. Now he just needs to make sure both his feet stay within the throwing rings, which measure 7 feet (shot) and 8 feet, 21 / 2 inches (discus) in diameter, respectively.

"I've been working on that a lot," Hendershot said. "It's pretty hard. You've got to work that foot around and keep that left leg up. I still have two years of track, so I've got plenty of time (to improve)."