Tuscola's Smith reaches two finals

Tuscola's Smith reaches two finals

CHARLESTON — Tuscola’s Broc Smith wants more than a starting position in the 100 meters at the boys’ Class 1A track and field state finals at Eastern Illinois University.

“The job’s not done,” Smith said.

The swiftest qualifier from sectionals, Smith won his heat race Thursday at O’Brien Stadium (11.18 seconds) and, after qualifying, ranks in a tie for second ahead of Saturday’s nine-runner field.

“I love the competition,” Smith said. “It pushes me amazingly.”

He was a state participant in the 100 as a sophomore but didn’t reach the finals. He earned a medal in 2012 with the record-setting 800-meter relay.

Thursday’s time was not his best, but Smith took it in stride.

“I could have been faster. We’ll see what I can do in the finals,” he said. “I’ll be calm and ready to get it done.”

Smith is a finalist in two events, as are teammates Stephen Gibson and Eric Ponder.

Smith’s 200-meter time of 22.12 tied for the day’s best mark in that event.

He was concerned how two weather delays — totaling 41/2 hours — would affect him in the 200.

“I thought I’d be stiff and not as loose as I was for the 100,” Smith said, “but I took my time warming up and ran better (than in the 100).”

Gibson stands second in the shot put (52 feet, 31/4 inches) and third in the discus (season-best 159-6 entering the finals). Preliminary marks in the throws carry over to Saturday, when the remaining contenders will get three more attempts.

Ponder broke the school record in the 1,600 with a 4:22.68 effort. The previous mark of 4:22.80 was held by Robert Hanners.

“We have guys who can score in big meets,” Tuscola coach Ryan Hornaday said. “On a major stage, those guys will be in the mix with the best in the state. All three did a fantastic job.”

The Warriors took five athletes to state and have a fourth individual survivor. Clayton Turner was eighth in the shot put (49-111/4) after the first round.

“Some years we have a couple of relays qualify and have nine or 10 guys here,” Hornaday said. “This year, we have more quality than quantity. The guys we have are getting the job done.”

One key for Smith and Ponder was a reduced workload at state.

“In the smaller meets, we ask them to do extra things to get points for the team,” Hornaday said. “Finally, they are at the point they can just concentrate on their events. Our guys had a good day. They’re talented and deserve to be on the medals stand.”