State track notebook: Washington would like to be first
CHARLESTON — George Albert Washington is the fourth generation in his family to share the name most commonly associated with the first U.S. president.
He likes the notoriety.
“People remember me more,” Washington said.
They won’t soon forget, either, not after he took a leap into the limelight during Friday’s Class 2A qualifications in the 120th IHSA boys’ track and field state meet at Eastern Illinois University.
On his final jump, Washington went from someone who’d be a finalist in the event to an individual who ranks second entering Saturday’s competition at O’Brien Stadium.
His best jump of the day was 21 feet, 1 inch until his last effort was measured at a career-best 22-3, which ties him for the top mark in the area this spring.
“I used my speed and tried to float longer,” Washington said.
Earlier in the season, Washington’s jumps were in the 19-foot range.
“I thought my best chance to make state was in the 100 (dash),” he said.
Instead, he made a quantum move in his favorite field event.
“I’ve worked hard during the championship month of May,” he said.
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Rantoul was 2 for 2 in its bid to qualify athletes for the finals. Senior Tyrin White had a toss of 155-11 and ranks third among 12 finalists after the first round in the discus.
“Exciting,” said White, who was seeded sixth based on his sectional performance.
A second-year competitor in the event, White hopes to get his season best Saturday.
Though he is near the top of the leaderboard, he wasn’t totally satisfied with his Day 1 result.
“It was good, but I didn’t really have my best throws,” White said.
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Centennial senior Allen Terry — whose name twice came out over the public address system as Terry Allen — reached the finals in the 110-meter high hurdles.
His time of 14.96 seconds ranks fifth in the nine-runner field. Terry sees Saturday as a chance to move up.
“I didn’t get a great start and had to play catch-up,” he said. “It feels good to represent Champaign.”
A first-time finalist at the outdoor state meet, Terry missed a chance to double in the 300 intermediate hurdles.
His run of 40.83 placed him 17th. The top nine moved on.
“There wasn’t much else I could do,” he said after his second race of the prelims. “I got to the last hurdle and was exhausted.”
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Another of the Chargers in the finals is junior high jumper David Black. He had only one miss while clearing 6-2, the height needed to qualify for the 11-person finals.
Black was never expecting such a position among the state’s elite.
“It’s my first year doing high jump, and I didn’t imagine coming to state,” he said. “My track coach (Greg Walters) saw me play basketball and thought I’d be a pretty good high jumper.”
He can’t explain the keys to his success.
“It all happened,” Black said. “I’m not sure how.”
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Because Class 1A schools Milford and Watseka formed a co-op for track and field, it pushed their enrollment limit a dozen students above the cutoff to remain in the small-school division. The program is one of the smallest 2A entries.
“It would be fun to be in 1A,” junior hurdler Jake Rogers said, “but we’re here to compete no matter how small we are.
“It’s kind of a disappointment, but I like being with the better competition in 2A.”
Rogers didn’t make the finals in the 300 hurdles, but the Warriors will have one representative. Austin Kidwell sailed 21-41/2 in the long jump and stands fourth.
“Being a senior, I came in telling myself to give everything,” Kidwell said.
Kidwell has a number in mind for himself, but it’s not where he wants to be standing on the award’s podium.
“I’m shooting for 22 feet,” said Kidwell, whose best is 21-91/2.
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Two Champaign triple jumpers succeeded in their quest to extend their season to the last day.
Centennial senior Ryan Grizzard stands ninth (42-41/2) and Central junior Fraquan Gaines is 10th (41-53/4), with three jumps remaining to improve their positioning.
“It’s a dream come true,” Grizzard said. “I’ve trained for this since football season ended, and I’m glad I accomplished my goal.”
Gaines expects to benefit from the experience he’s gaining as an underclassman.
“To be one of the best in the state motivates me for next year,” he said. “I’ll be here next year and do way better.”
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Centennial’s Reis DeSantis was three spots from advancing in the 1,600 meters, but the senior wasn’t despondent after his final prep race.
“One of the keys for happiness is gratitude, gratitude, gratitude,” he said. “I’m happy for being here in this atmosphere after only being in the stands before.
“I’m making memories and looking forward to the rest of my career at the University of St. Francis.”
DeSantis’ time of 4:31.27 placed him 15th.
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Champaign Central, which last had a state-placing boys’ relay 12 years ago, came close to matching its sectional time in the 3,200 relay and ranks 10th entering the finals (8:06.38).
“We put the time where it needed to be,” said Corey White, the unit’s lone senior. “We wanted to run a little faster, but we went out and competed.”
Joining White on the relay are Isaac Kasten, Henry Sills and Ashton Hyatt. Twelve schools are shooting for the nine medals that will be distributed.
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Mahomet-Seymour has five chances to score points Saturday, including double competitors in two events.
Pole vaulters Brennen Shobe and Robert Wolf eclipsed the 13-foot cutoff and are among the 13 remaining contestants.
The Bulldogs have two entries in the 3,200, which didn’t run preliminaries: second-seeded Alex Keeble and William Wolf.
Shot putter Andrew Franklin secured the 12th spot in his specialty.
Running his final race was Sam Hohlfelder, in the 400.
“I wanted to break 50 (seconds), but this wasn’t the day,” Hohlfelder said. “I’m not stressing.”
Hohlfelder’s time of 51.09 placed him 16th overall.
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Centennial senior Phillip Hassell was the anchor runner on two sprint relays, one of which came close to securing medals though their seasons ended Friday.
“We came out focused and ready,” Hassell said, after the 800 relay (1:29.97) finished 10th, one spot from a finals berth. “It was a great experience, competing with the best in the state.
“I have the best of hopes for my teammates to make the finals next year.”
The Chargers used the same runners in the same order on the 400 and 800 relays.
Junior Jeremiah Peoples led off and handed the baton to freshman James Williams. Junior Rob Spalding ran the third leg.
“The nerves went away when I got the baton,” Williams said. “I ran the race like I normally do.”
The 400 relay placed 20th in a time of 43.84, just off its area best this spring of 43.33.
“We worked all season to get to this point, and it was all worth it,” Spalding said.