CHARLESTON -- For Lake Park to win a historic fifth straight boys track and field championship it must be a Saturday to remember.
Friday's Class 3A preliminaries of the boys track and field state finals ended with the Lancers advancing eight entries into Saturday's finals, matching Neuqua Valley, York and Edwardsville, one more than both Downers Grove North and Thornton.
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"The first day you're always going to have those ups and downs, the hits and misses. I'm pleased, I think, overall with where we are, but we're going to have to get after it tomorrow," Lake Park coach Jay Ivory said.
"If we want to do something special then our effort tomorrow has to be that special, has to be pretty remarkable. We've got to step our game up."
Senior Marcus Jegede's triple jump of 48 feet, 4¾ inches led all jumpers, a highlight, done at the expense of his being scratched from the long jump to spare a sore knee and back. Nonetheless, Jegede also joined Joe Pierce, Gio Basso and 110 hurdles qualifier Antonio Shenault to lift the 400-meter relay from a No. 13 seed to ninth overall and reach Saturday's finals.
"We thought we could get more points with me just doing triple jump," said Jegede, who has a 2-foot edge over his closest pursuer. "Relief is the word for it. Hopefully, I don't have to jump tomorrow."
The Lancers also qualified their 3,200 relay and sent Curtwan Evans and Mike Prestigiacomo into the finals of both shot put and discus.
"I think tomorrow everyone needs to do more than what was expected," said Shenault, disappointed after failing to advance in the 300 hurdles.
Neuqua Valley's Ty Moss anchored a qualifying 3,200 relay, qualified in the 800 and ran a leg of a qualifying 1,600 relay that was anchored by 400 qualifier Zac Espinosa.
In the 800 Moss, sunglasses glinting in the sun, finally broke down Danville's No. 1 seed Johnny Leverenz on the last straightaway.
"When I heard him coming up hard I figured it was Johnny -- I couldn't tell but I figured because I knew he has a kick like that," said Moss, a junior. "So I just did what I had to do and just tried to save the energy to outkick him and do what I had to do to qualify for tomorrow."
Like Jegede's triple jump mark, preliminary distances in discus carry over to finals. That means Benet's Stephen Hubona's discus mark of 185 feet, 1 inch gives him a 15-foot lead. The state's top discus thrower basically all season, Hubona was peeved another thrower, Cary-Grove's Ricky Hurley, came downstate with the No. 1 seed.
"I was a little disappointed not to be throwing last today (as top seed), but coming in first today, that's huge," said Hubona. He credited Friday's distances of 172, 182 and 185 feet to "taking off lifting this week," part of his best set of practice in weeks.
Naperville Central's Sam Bransby yelled "Yes!" as he crossed the line first in the 1,600 relay and nailed down the Redhawks' entry into the finals with Daniel Spaccapaniccia, Matt Meier and Michael Jopes. Bransby also won his heat of the open 400.
"Usually when I give Sam the lead he can hold onto the finish," Spaccapaniccia said.
In the Class 2A preliminaries Kaneland's 16 finals entries is the most in school history, three more than favored Cahokia. Glenbard South has six competing Saturday, including Joe Singleton in the 3,200 and also the 1,600, which he ran Friday in 4:25.55.
"Four-twenty-five never felt that good before," said Singleton, who led all 2A runners with a 4:21 sectional time.
Wheaton Academy coach Chris Felinski said the Warriors had never had three state finalists -- until now, when the 85-degree temperatures spurred Matt Ruff in the 400 and Ty Seager in both the 100 and 200 dashes.
"I felt great," Ruff said. "This weather's perfect."