Track standouts take first step at state

Track standouts take first step at state

Getting to the state meet is half the battle.

The boys take center stage this week at Eastern Illinois University, starting with the Class 1A preliminaries Thursday.

“At this stage, we always stress that we run for the chance to run one more time,” Unity coach Tim Gateley said.

In all, 31 area schools will have competitors at state in one of the three classes. Those who advance to the finals will compete Saturday.

Danville’s Johnny Leverenz posted the state’s top qualifying time in the 800 meters in Class 3A, an event the Butler recruit won as a junior. Tuscola’s Broc Smith, in 1A, led all advancers in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say this may be the most anticipated state meet in my career,” Danville coach Steve Luke said.

The top two runners in last November’s Class 1A state cross-country meet, Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac’s Jon Davis and St. Thomas More’s Nick Hess, registered the top sectional times in the 3,200 and are headed for a Saturday showdown in an event in which there are no preliminaries to reduce the field.

Many area athletes used last week’s News-Gazette Honor Roll meet as a final tuneup. Two of the boys’ top hurdlers that day, Centennial’s Allen Terry and Danville’s Dakota Gash, each moved on to state, but there’s no chance they’ll run against each other again in 2014. Terry is in Class 2A. Gash is among the Class 3A competitors.

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