Boys track and field: Thormo leads Grant's stellar day at state
CHARLESTON -- Grant senior Jason Thormo knows what it's like to be in the spotlight.
It comes with the territory when you're a defending state champion.
"It's to the point where I walk into every meet and people are always (saying), 'Oh, the 400's coming up, Jason's running, Jason's running,'" said Thormo, who won the Class 3A 400 meters last season.
"It gets to me sometimes. I just want to do my thing, come on."
Thormo did his thing on a hot, humid Friday afternoon at Eastern Illinois' O'Brien Field, advancing to Saturday's finals in three events.
The Illinois recruit won his 400 heat with the day's fastest qualifying time of 48.20 seconds, just ahead of Crete-Monee's Ricky Johnson (48.32).
Thormo also anchored the Bulldogs to the finals in the 400 relay (42.48) and 1,600 relay (3:20.02). The latter was the top time of the prelims.
It looked easy, though Thormo said it was anything but.
"I've progressed, had some really good practices," he said. "(Then) sprained my ankle two weeks ago, had a hamstring injury two weeks before that.
"So it's been a hard battle. I'm not nearly as conditioned as I would like to be."
Thormo may not be as ready as he'd prefer, but his teammates don't see much, if any, difference.
Michael Smith, the leadoff runner on the 1,600 relay team, can't wait to see what happens next after the Bulldogs dropped more than five seconds off their sectional time.
"I feel like we can do better than that because we ran a 3:21 indoor," Smith said. "We still have more in us and that's just the start of Jason."
Thormo wasn't the only Bulldog to advance in multiple events. Justin Splitt qualified in the 800 and as a member of the 1,600 relay team.
Antioch had four qualifiers: Zach Grindley in the long jump and high jump, Charlie Smith in the 1,600 (4:20.73) and Chase Becker in the discus.
Charlie Smith put up Friday's fourth-best time after having the state's fastest sectional effort at 4:18.38.
"Definitely wasn't expecting it," he said of being top-seeded for the prelims. "People who don't really follow track around my school were, 'Ooh, fastest to go to state.' Kind of, it's just tons of fun.
"I knew these are guys I can race with. I'm not going to back down from any competition, regardless of my seed."
Also advancing to the 3A finals were Warren's 3,200 relay team, which had the second-best qualifying time of 7:50.61; Mundelein's 3,200 relay team; Stevenson's Maema Njongmeta and Vernon Hills' Hunter Matuch in the discus; and Lake Zurich's Jake Myers in the 1,600.
Carmel pole vaulter Sam Wahlers advanced to the 2A finals.