CHARLESTON -- The pressure was off, as far as Cary-Grove sophomore Ricky Hurley was concerned.
On his second throw during the shot put competition at the Class 3A session of the boys track and field state championships at Eastern Illinois University and O'Brien Field, Hurley launched the shot a personal-best 55-3.25 to secure a spot in Saturday's finals. His effort was the fifth-best toss of the preliminary round.
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"This is a huge accomplishment," Hurley said. "I didn't qualify last year, so this is a great thing."
The afternoon got better, but it took a bit more of a tactical approach in the discus for Hurley to make the finals. With all of the throwers in the final discus flight having issues with the footing in the ring, Hurley came up with a quick solution to fix the slick concrete.
"It was either we use water or Gatorade on a towel to make our feet a little more sticky," he said with a laugh. "I went with water and it worked, I guess."
On his second throw of the preliminary session, Hurley sent the disc 163-3 to earn a spot in the finals as the fourth-best thrower from the prelims.
Joining Hurley in the finals will be Huntley senior Justin Hebert who, much like the other throwers in the flight, slipped through his first two throws. But a couple words of encouragement from coach Jim Rolando and chants of "Herbie" from the red-and-black clad faithful outside the ring helped Herbert to a toss of 151-1 and the final spot in the finals.
Another close call came in the Class 3A triple jump. South Elgin junior Kyle Kumerow leaped 44-3.75 and held on to secure the last spot in the finals on Saturday.
Coming out of nowhere is just the way that Burlington Central senior Ryan Olsen planned it. During his heat of the Class 2A 400-meter dash, Olsen was a step or two behind the lead pack with less than 100 meters left in the race. Over the final 70 meters, Olsen broke ahead of the pack and won his heat in 49.66. By winning his heat, Olsen didn't have to sit and wait for the other heats. He knew he was in.
"This helped a lot," Olsen said. "Now I didn't have to sit around and wait for the other races. I knew I was through."
Olsen will not be alone in the Class 2A finals. His teammate Lucas Ege wasn't interested in waiting around for the other three heats of the 300 hurdles either, so he saw fit to take the suspense out right away. His 39.31 clocking is a freshman/sophomore record and it also won the first heat. His time was seventh-best in the prelims.
"I always have more energy at the end of the race so I tried to conserve early and let it all go at the end," Ege said. "It's good to know that I can do something tomorrow instead of waiting until next year."
The Rockets also raced a trio of relays on Friday in the prelims. The 800 relay team of Alex Johnson, Jason Berango, Travis Panariello, and Casey Matthews ran 1:32.09 finishing fifth in their heat. The 1,600-relay team of Kyle Neubauer, Johnson, Ege, and Olsen finished fourth in their heat in 3:27.02. The 400 relay team of Olsen, Johnson, Berango, and Matthews finished sixth in their heat in 43.88.
In Class 3A, Dundee-Crown senior Raymond Griggel competed in the shot put with a best effort of 46-3.25, and Huntley senior Craig Lambert cleared 13-0 in the pole vault. Cary Grove was also represented by Michael Saxon in the 300 hurdles (41.24), and senior Michael Gleeson in the 400 (50.55). The Trojans 1,600 relay team of Daniel Speer, Alex Bussan, Saxon and Gleeson ran to 3:29.69.
Jacobs had two relays compete on Friday. The 3,200 relay team of Nick Matysek, Pat Nerja, Ryan Ross, and Sebastian Baran ran 7:57.38 in a fast relay event. Matysek was joined by Tyler Estell, Dylan Rogers, and Jake Gierlak for the 1,600 relay (3:24.99).
Larkin fell just short in the 1,600-relay finishing 12th overall. Jarelle Ship, Dante Bonds, Luis Subias, and Ernesto Garcia ran 3:22.99.
Huntley fielded three relays in the 400, 800, and 3,200 events. Tyler Schwartz, John Walker, Mike Dollar, and Connor Boos ran 1:30.65. Keagan Smith, Sam Marcuccelli, Brendan O'Donnell, and Trevor Obecny ran 8:00.47. Dollar, Schwartz and Boos were joined by Ryan Tharp on the 400 relay (43.21).
Crystal Lake South ran 7:56.90 just missing the finals of the 3,200 relay. Duncan Henderson, Ian Meador, Drew Kopfman, and David Lenzini made up the relay.