CHARLESTON -- As coach Mike Schmidt was hoping, the Burlington Central Rockets boys track and field team put itself in prime position for big things in the team race Saturday at the IHSA state meet at Eastern Illinois University's O'Brien Field.
Junior Lucas Ege is seeded second in the 300 hurdles and 110 high hurdles after a relatively stress-free qualifying session.
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"I'm saving myself for tomorrow," Ege said.
Ege will race four times Saturday, as he earned two more spots as a member of the Rockets' 400 and 1,600 relays. The 400 relay team included Jason Berango, Casey Matthews, and Travis Panariello and finished in 43.02. The 1,600 relay team of Kyle Neubauer, Matt O'Connor and Matthews ran 3:23.41.
O'Connor earned an individual spot by running 1:57.44 in the 800.
During the prelims of the Class 3A session, Crystal Lake South's David Lenzini teamed up with Drew Kopfman, Jon Prus, and Kyle Radosevich to earn a spot in the 3,200-meter relay finals. In what turned out to be an incredibly fast race, the Gators improved their sectional seed time by more than 4 seconds by running 7:53.47. They are seeded 10th into the finals.
"I know Drew has been here three times and this is my fourth time here," Lenzini said. "To make it shows all the hard work paid off."
South senior Kyle Hedge didn't leave anything to chance in the shot put. A two-foot personal best by Hedge secured a top three spot in the finals with a throw of 58 feet, 5.25 inches.
"Before the season, 60 feet was my goal," Hedge said. "Now I have a chance in the finals to achieve that."
While Hedge made the shot put finals, it was a rough afternoon for Cary Grove junior Ricky Hurley. He missed on his chance to make the shot put finals, but he made up for it with the second best preliminary throw in the discus. His toss of 169-9 leaves him work to do to move into the top spot currently held by Benet senior Stephen Hubona, who threw 185-1.
The near misses for the Trojans weren't limited to the field events. The 1,600 relay team of Robbie Gleeson, Michael Saxon, Daniel Speer and Brad Wolter ran a school-record 3:20.54, but in what was the hottest race of a very hot afternoon, the Trojans wound up 12th.
Wolter also came within .006 of making the finals in the 400, though he did bust out a personal best 49.25.
"Last year I saw the guys on our team make it to state and I knew I wanted to be a part of that," Wolter said.
Other Fox Valley area individual qualifiers who competed Friday but failed to advance included Will Hempel of Hampshire in the Class 2A 300 hurdles. In Class 3A individual qualifiers included Connor Boos, Keegan Smith, Brennan Bell, and Isaac Jimenez of Huntley, Austin White of Dundee-Crown, Kyle Kumerow, Shawn Griffin, and John Danner of South Elgin, and Josh Walker of Jacobs.
Relay teams from Huntley, Jacobs, Cary Grove, and Larkin also competed.