Relays is the name of the game for local boys track state qualifiers.
A total of 12 Fox Valley-area relay teams will compete in Friday's Class 2A and 3A state finals at Eastern Illinois University's O'Brien Stadium in Charleston.
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Burlington Central and Huntley lead the way with three relay qualifiers each.
Central qualified its 400 (Ryan Olsen, Alex Johnson, Jason Berango, Casey Matthews), 800 (Johnson, Berango, Travis Panariello, Matthews) and 1,600 (Olsen, Johnson, Kyle Neubauer, Lucas Ege) teams. The 800 team is seeded 11th, while the 1,600 team is 13th.
"We've switched people around and have found the perfect four," said Johnson. "We've practiced and practiced and stepped it up."
Johnson said smooth handoffs will be a key in Charleston.
"We keep working on handoffs," he said. "We're going to keep pushing through. We're going to put our minds to it no matter what the competition is."
Central's Olsen is tied for the top seed in the 400 (48.72) with Cahokia's Marlin Brady. Ege is seeded 12th in the 300 hurdles and also qualified in the 110 highs.
Huntley, which enjoyed a mountain of success this season winning county and conference titles and finishing second in its sectional, qualified its 400, 800 and 3,200 relay teams. The 400 relay team features Ryan Tharp, Tyler Schwartz, Connor Boos and Mike Dollar. Schwartz, John Walker, Boos and Dollar make up the 800 team.
"We're better at running together than individually," said Schwartz. "We're really good at making an impact on our times in the relays."
Schwartz added Boos, a sophomore, has helped the makeup of the 400 and 800 teams.
"We've really come together," he said. "We've really accepted Connor and we've grown together as a team."
Walker is in his first year of track and will run in the 800 relay.
"We've pushed harder and we've gotten faster," said Walker. "We're pushing each other to go even faster."
Schwartz acknowledged the team has accomplished a lot this season, but is looking forward to excelling on the biggest stage possible.
"We're very proud of what we've done," he said. "Now, we're ready to run and show what we have at Huntley."
Huntley's Justin Herbert is seeded eighth in the discus, while Craig Lambert represents the Red Raiders in the pole vault.
Jacobs' 3,200 relay team is seeded ninth after winning a sectional title with a time of 7:54.02. That team features Nick Matysek, Pat Nerja, Sebatian Baran and Ryan Ross.
"We've always had a bunch of guys around 2-minutes flat and at the end of the season a bunch of guys broke it (2:00) and that's what brought us together," said Ross, who has gone as low as 1:57.8 in his split.
The Golden Eagles also qualified their 1,600 relay team of Jake Gierlak, Tyler Estell, Matysek and freshman Dylan Rogers.
Cary-Grove will be well-represented in Charleston. Sophomore Ricky Hurley is the No. 2 seed in the discus after throwing 176-8 at the sectional. He'll also compete in the shot put.
"I'm getting my speed up in the front," said Hurley of his discus improvement. "I have to make sure I stay focused and pop another 176 and I'll be set."
The Trojans' 1,600 relay team of Daniel Speer, Alex Bussan, Michael Saxon and Michael Gleeson is seeded 15th. Gleeson will run the 400 and Saxon, a sophomore, will compete in the 300 hurdles.
Like Cary-Grove, Bartlett will have a large contingent in the 3A competitions. The Hawks' 3,200 relay team of Connor Rachford, Mitch Sullivan, Matt Hess and Brandon Smith is seeded fifth. Smith is the No. 9 seed in the 400. Dan Cotton will run the 3,200, Alex Bailey the 110 high hurdles and Connor Rachford the 800 for Bartlett.
Larkin has its 1,600 relay team at the state meet. The quartet of Ernesto Garcia, Luis Subias, Dante Bonds and Jarelle Shipp are the No. 8 seed after running 3:22.56 en route to a sectional title.
"At the beginning of the season we weren't sure what we had in the 4-by-4," said Subias. "Myself and Ernesto were the main guys from last year. This year we started fresh with new guys. We kept testing guys until we had the right combination."
Subias noted a win at the Huntley invitational got the ball rolling for the team.
"From there we knew we had something," he said. "We've kept doing what we should be doing."
Subias and Garcia will forgo Larkin graduation ceremonies to partake in the state meet.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Subias. "This is something we didn't want to miss out on."
South Elgin's Kyle Kumerow is seeded 14th in the triple jump. Dundee-Crown's Raymond Griggel will compete in the shot put, while Crystal Lake South qualified its 3,200 relay team of Duncan Henderson, Ian Meador, Drew Kopfman and David Lenzini.
St. Edward's John Danner competes in the Class 1A meet today. He's seeded 14th in the 3,200 run.
Today's forecast in Charleston calls for partly cloudy skies and high of 62, while Friday is sunny and 68 and Saturday calls for a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms and a high of 66.