Class 2A/3A track & field notebook: Wrong time will haunt Wright

CHARLESTON — It's unclear on whom the blame should be placed, but no matter who takes the fall, Champaign Central senior Brad Wright never got the chance to compete Friday in the preliminary round of the Class 2A long jump.

Wright was listed in the official program as a competitor in the first of three long jump flights. He said he was told he was in the third flight and showed up then.

"I checked in with the coach from Bloomington, the guy that was running the third flight. He told me I was all right and I was checked in," Wright said. "They tell me now that I was supposed to be in Flight 1, and I didn't know that. My coaches told me I was in Flight 3."

Central coach Argie Johnson said he doesn't know why there was any confusion about what flight Wright would compete in.

"I don't know. He thought he was in Flight 3. We came down, got the program and I let the kids look at it to see what flight they were in," Johnson said. "I told him Wednesday and I should have reiterated it yesterday that he was jumping with the Cahokia jumpers, the big jumpers. I told him Wednesday they were the guys who would establish (the high marks). For some unknown reason, he thought they were jumping in the third flight."

IHSA assistant executive director Ron McGraw said it's up to the athlete or the coaches to make sure the competitor is there when his group is scheduled to compete.

"He missed his flight, that's it. They thought he was in Flight 3, and he was in Flight 1," McGraw said. "He wasn't here to check in. He came late, and you can't just jump in late."

No matter who's to blame, it's a tough way for Wright to end his prep career. He qualified for state as a sophomore, missed last year with an injury and battled through an injury early this season to qualify among the top eight.

"I can't even explain it. I don't have any words for it," Wright said.

"It's very disappointing because we thought he was ready to go," Johnson said. "All the workouts, he was right on the board. We thought he had a real chance of winning it this year. It's real tough for him. I feel bad for him that he didn't get the opportunity."

It was a tough day for the Maroons. Triple jumper Cashmere Blissit injured his knee during his first attempt and was forced to pull out of the competition. Prince Nimy, the Maroons' other state qualifier, ran a 22.83 in the 200 and did not qualify for the finals.

Charger looking up. Centennial thrower Luke Vaughn watched as Petersburg PORTA's Caleb Fricke and Metamora's Jake Armbrust went back and forth setting state records in the discus. Vaughn was supposed to be right there with them, trading records, but Friday just wasn't his day.

The Chargers junior still qualified for Saturday's finals in the event with a throw of 165-8, but it's a far cry from the 184-7 he threw in the sectional to qualify.

"I was hoping at least 185, 190. It was just my technique. I was throwing 185, 190 in warmups," Vaughn said. "I was a little nervous, trying to get pumped for the moment and trying to relax at the same time."

Armbrust first broke the record with a throw of 173-2. Fricke was the next to throw, and he shattered the mark with a heave of 188-2. Fricke's 195-0 was the top mark entering the competition. Vaughn was second, followed by Armbrust.

"I would rather have been in one of those guys' positions and have the record," Vaughn said. "I got one in. I'm sitting (seventh); a couple feet will move me up a couple places. Right now, we're going after sixth, or first or second."

Vaughn also qualified in the shot put, though he wasn't pleased with that result, either.

"I was disappointed with the distance (52-6); it was falling out of my hand. I'm hoping to throw 55, 56 tomorrow," he said. "I was just disappointed because I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. I'm definitely relaxed I made it to the finals. I'm just hoping to move up in the standings."

Rantoul's Charles Hensley also qualified for the finals at 52-6.

Sommer heating up. Prairie Central's Stirling Sommer is peaking at the right time. Two weeks after breaking the 50-second mark in the 400 for the first time, the senior set a goal of consistently running below that number. He's done so ever since and qualified for the finals in the event after running a 49.53 on Friday.

He credits a change in his workout routine from last year for the increased performance.

"I used to go to sports enhancement down in Bloomington last year, and that hurt me. I hurt my hamstring," said Sommer, running at the state finals for the fourth straight year. "I knew this year what I needed to do to get back in shape. I stopped doing that. There's a lot of fast guys here. Being an underclassman those last three years was tough. I finally got my time down. I'm doing pretty good."

Sabers look to future. None of St. Thomas More's four athletes who competed Friday qualified for the finals. But there was optimism among the Sabers, who are looking ahead to competing for a state title in 2013 with the move back down to Class 1A.

Because the Sabers, with an official IHSA enrollment of 577.5, are recent sectional champions, they were bumped up to Class 2A this year in conjunction with a new state rule.

"We've got some strong 800 runners, and hopefully next year we're going to be going for that 1A title," said junior Jacob Helfrich, who competed in the 800. "Our enrollment went down, too, so we should be back in 1A."

Pierre Tuell (400), Nick Hess (1,600) and Jarred Koerner (1,600) were the other Sabers in action Friday.

"I really think we've got a lot of solid guys coming back, and next year we'll be looking to do some damage," Hess said.

Hess' heat of the 1,600 featured Chicago Jones College Prep's Jamison Dale, who set a state record (4:15.97). The old record was 4:18.28.

"It's pretty cool. I knew they were going out fast and did the best I could to maintain a somewhat-decent amount of space."

Hess' bib number, 1600, matched the distance of his race.

"I've never had that before; I thought it was cool," he said. "That's something I'll have to hang up."

Briscoe enjoys state stay. Centennial's David Briscoe narrowly missed qualifying for the finals in the 110 hurdles, finishing 10th overall in an event that sends nine runners to the finals.

"It wasn't my best. I felt good coming out, but I got caught in between," Briscoe said. "I was a little high coming into the fourth one, and that threw me off my rhythm. I got it back."

Briscoe also missed qualifying in the 300 hurdles, though the experience wasn't a complete letdown for the senior.

"I was an alternate on a relay last year, and this is my first year in the hurdles," he said. "This is great; this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me."

Graham shaves time. Mahomet-Seymour's graduation ceremony is set for Sunday. That Steve Prefontaine-looking mustache that Marshall Graham is sporting under his nose will be long gone by the time he pulls on the cap and gown.

"My friends always give me slack about my beard, so I figured I'd go creepy for them," said Graham, who ran in the 100 and legs on the 400 and 800 relays Friday. "It's gone after this. Mom's making me get rid of it."

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