Boys' Honor Roll Meet: Laubscher flying solo

Boys' Honor Roll Meet: Laubscher flying solo

CHAMPAIGN — The Cissna Park boys’ track and field team had a stirring performance Monday evening.

All one of them.

Devon Laubscher is the Cissna Park’s track and field team this year.

“I’m trying to make a statement,” Laubscher said after he won the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and long jump during the 32nd News-Gazette Honor Roll meet at the University of Illinois track. “I’m pretty excited and trying to let the people back in Cissna know that they should come out and run, too, so we can have a team.”

The four-sport athlete — he also takes part in football, basketball and splits his time in the spring on the Timberwolves’ baseball team — practices on his own. He has to. The school doesn’t have a track.

“We have starting blocks, and I practice with those,” Laubscher said. “Sometimes I build my endurance for the 200, but other than that, not much else.”

Laubscher won the 100 with a time of 11.70 seconds, fending off Juan Walker of Rantoul (11.93).

“Getting a good start was key,” Laubscher said. “I felt I had it after the first 20 meters because no one was catching me, and I was the first one out of the blocks.”

He won the 200 in 22.92 and claimed the long jump title with a leap of 20 feet, 53/4 inches.

Laubscher is far from a novice. He won 100, 200 and long jump state titles his eighth-grade year to help Cissna Park claim a team state title.

“I love running in general,” Laubscher said. “It’s my favorite thing to do. I didn’t go out for track last year, but this atmosphere is sweet.”

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Ryan Pearce wasn’t even born yet when the meet record for the shot put was set.

Now he’s the record-holder.

The Villa Grove senior finished first with a toss of 60 feet, 31/4 inches, more than two inches farther than the meet record established by Tri-Valley’s Allen Bradd in 1994. Bradd’s record was the second-oldest meet record of the 18 events prior to Monday’s meet.

“I’ve been throwing that in practice, but I just haven’t been able to hit it in meets yet,” Pearce said. “It’s about that time of the year to start hitting those (personal records). It’ll be nice to look back and think, ‘Wow, I just broke that record that’s been there for 18 years.”

Pearce will play football at McKendree next fall and said he’ll most likely do track and field with the Bearcats as well.

“It feels good,” he said. “Not many people get the opportunity, so it’d be great to go on to the next level and hopefully do just as good as I’ve done in high school.”

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Ian Briscoe of Prairie Central nearly set a meet record in the high jump. The senior cleared 6-8 to win the event. He has cleared 6-9 before, the meet record former Urbana standout Mykhail Chambers cleared in 2008, but could not surpass that height Monday after trying an attempt at 6-10. He outdueled St. Joseph-Ogden’s Eric Rydell (6-6) for the second time in three days after the duo finished 1-2 on Saturday during the Bulldog Invitational at Mahomet-Seymour.

“I know if I can get my steps in place I should be able to get over 6-10,” Briscoe said. “It feels good to have someone push you. I started doing the high jump in junior high. I just liked playing basketball and dunking, so I liked jumping. That’s kind of where it came from.”

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Monticello showed its dominance in three of the four relays. The Sages’ quartet of Austin Eckerty, Matt Justus, Ryan Donohue and Vinny Strack placed first in the 400 relay (44.02) and 800 relay (1:31.38). With Luke Zimmerman replacing Donohue in the 1,600-meter relay, Strack and the Sages (3:30.42) held off Watseka (3:31.05), which was spurred on by a late charge from Austin Kidwell in the anchor leg.

“A lot of people finally feel the same way in that when you get a good night, that tends to happen,” Monticello coach Cully Welter said. “I’m just real proud of the kids. They ran relaxed and ran their best.”

The 800 relay team set a personal record by more than three seconds, and Justus, running second, helped the Sages break open a lead running from Lane 7.

“We just stuck through it,” Justus said. “I had a really big kick at the end and had a lot of adrenaline. It was a great feeling.”

Strack anchored all three relays, and he edged Centennial at the end of the 400 relay to start the trio of relay victories.

“I was just hoping my speed would take me through it,” Strack said. “Centennial was ahead of us at the exchange, and I was just trying to get them. Fortunately enough, I did.”

St. Joseph-Ogden won the 3,200-meter relay (8:26.64) with Kyle Smith, Clayton Nigg, Corey Thompson and Nic Poff pacing the Spartans.

“We were just trying to get off with a strong lead and hopefully finish strong,” Poff said. “I’m very pleased with the time. My teammates did a great job getting the lead for us, so I just had to keep it.”

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