The winning tradition continued for Kaneland on Friday night at the Class 2A Burlington Central boys track and field sectional. The Knights pulled away from the field with 183 team points to capture their sixth straight sectional title. An outstanding performance even by Kaneland's high standards. The host Rockets finished a distant second with 75.5 points.
Kaneland was strong across the board winning 8 of the 18 events and qualifying for the state meet in 7 others.
Contact information ( * required )
"I can't even put into words what our team was able to accomplish tonight," Kaneland coach Eric Baron said. "The guys went above and beyond in exceeding our expectations. They just brought it all night and were on fire."
he Knights won 3 of the 4 relay events. The team of Brock Robertson, Brandon Bishop, Kyle Carter, and Nathanial Kucera won the 1,600 relay in 3:21.57; Ben Barnes, Bishop, Isaac Swithers, and Dylan Nauert won the 800 relay in 1:29.54; Andrew Lesak, Acosta, Carter, and Kucera took the 3,200 relay in 7:55.32.
"The guys take a lot of pride in running the relays," Baron said. "It shows our depth because we are able to run a lot of different combinations. They all did a great job tonight."
Carter also won the 400 run, nudging out his teammate Kucera with a time of 49.89. Carter, a senior, is making his first trip to state in an individual event.
"I just went out hard from the start and looked for my teammate," Carter said. "We like to push each other. I have the best coaches and best teammates around."
In the field events the Knights' Nate Dyer won both the shot put with a throw of 56 feet, 2 inches and the discus (164-08). It was a personal best for the senior in the discus. He makes a return trip to state for a third straight year in the shot put and returns in the discus after qualifying his sophomore year but falling short a year ago.
"Last year I was fighting a shoulder injury," said Dyer. "This year it feels good to be completely healthy. I was able to put away both events on my first throws."
Dylan Kuipers also finished first for the Knights in the pole vault with a mark of 15-03.50. Barnes took first in the triple jump (44-10.50) and second in the long jump. Robertson qualified for state with fourth place finishes in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles. Austin Kintz finished second in the 1600 run to qualify for state. Nauert also qualified for state with second place finishes in the 300 hurdles and 110 hurdles.
For the host Rockets Lucas Ege had a big night winning both the 110 hurdles in 14.58 and the 300 hurdles with a school record of 37.99.
"I am pretty happy with how I did," Ege said. "But I know I can still improve. I'm still hitting too many hurdles and my steps are still a little too fast on my approaches."
After suffering a stress fracture in his foot last year senior Matt O'Connor returned to win the 800 run in 1:56.69.
'It feels great to be able to come back and do this my senior year," O'Connor said. " It's like I'm making up for lost time."
The Rockets also qualified for state with second place finishes in the 1,600 relay and 800 relay and a third-place finish in the 400 relay along with a third-place finish by Clay Musial in the 3,200 run.
"I am really pleased," Central coach Mike Schmidt said. "Lucas set a school record. Matt had the big win. Three of relay teams qualified. Clay was real sick the past couple days and still made it through. That's a good night."
At Grayslake Central: Hampshire senior Will Hempel knew he had just one more race to earn a spot downstate and he didn't want it to be his last. In the 300 intermediate hurdles, Hempel put on one last burst of speed over the final two hurdles to earn a state qualifying spot in 40.53.
"I knew I had to push it there in the end because the other runners I could feel them closing on me," Hempel said. "I am always concentrating on one hurdle at a time."
Class 1A at Seneca: Harvest Christian sophomore Brett Cramer finished second in the high jump (5 feet, 8 inches) to qualify for state. St. Edward also qualified its 800-meter relay team, which finished third in a time of 1:33.72.
Jeff Newton contributed to this report