Three decades of Honor Roll meet highlights
The News-Gazette Honor Roll track meet for area high school boys and girls has been around now for more than three decades. Seemingly every year there have been significant achievements.
Selecting an all-time, top 10 list is a daunting task, but it's a challenge we'll undertake with gusto. Here's one person's views of the most memorable from the vast assortment of memories.
Perhaps the most remarkable performance occurred in the first Honor Roll meet where every time and every distance established a record.
As Year 31 of the elite meet approaches, no one has again run the boys' 3,200 meters as fast as Champaign Central's Mark Thompson did (9 minutes, 33.7 seconds) in 1982.
Thompson was not a state qualifier that year, having missed advancing in the 800 and the 1,600. When he ran the 3,200 at Mahomet on that May night against the area's premier distance standouts, it was the third time for him running that distance in a race.
His time broke the school record by 8.6 seconds and yet he did not take the lead until the second turn of the final lap when he surged past Paxton's Craig Stockman, who placed second in 9:38.0.
Thompson recovered in time to win the 1,600, again catching up to Stockman on the gun lap.
Here are other noteworthy performances, according to prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner, who emphasized that they are listed alphabetically:
In 1994, the shot put record was 57-11 1/4, a mark Bradd topped or tied on each of his series of four attempts: 58-10 3/4, 57-11 1/4; 59-4 3/4 and the still-standing 60-1 heave on his last try.
In 1986, she capped an incredible Honor Roll run by winning the 100- and 200-meter dashes each for the fourth consecutive year.
In 1995, one of the most touching performances came from Judson, a Seventh Day Adventist whose religion kept her from competing at sectionals or in the state finals. She won the 100 meters, the long jump, anchored the Chargers' winning 400 relay (in what was then a meet-record time) and placed second in the 200 as a senior.
In 1990, he was the area's best of the best in an unprecedented four events. He was victorious in the long jump, high jump, triple jump and 110-meter high hurdles.
St. Thomas More
In 2010, the senior showed he was in a class by himself in the discus. His first toss (182-4) broke the meet record, which he again shattered on his second attempt (189-6). On his fifth attempt, he established the still-standing mark of 197-5.
In 1996, in her final prep meet, she won three events, setting records in both hurdles races. The 100 hurdles mark (14.6), which at the time was the best ever by an area athlete at any competition, remains the meet standard.
In her lone year at the school, 1983, the freshman swept the distance races, covering the 3,200 in a record time (10:39.0) that no one in the following years could ever match. Straza transferred to Bloomington before returning to the area to run at the University of Illinois.
In 1987, rain forced the girls' meet to be held three days after state. The recently crowned Class 1A state champion (5:09.89), Welke virtually duplicated that time in her triumphant Honor Roll follow-up (5:09.90).
In 2008, his meet-record time (1:54.71) in the 800 was the sixth-fastest ever recorded by an area athlete and a sign of what was to come. He placed second at state in Class 1A the following week with a time (1:52.59) that ranks third on the all-time Area Honor Roll.