Some of the top area throwers stepped up and strutted their stuff at sectionals early in the week, advancing to the Illinois High School Association state finals and setting the stage for a big finish to the boys track and field season.
Harlem’s Riley Lundgren, who headed into the postseason with the third-best discus throw in all of Class 3A this season and the 18th-best shot put of the year, continued on his torrid pace Wednesday during the 3A Huntley Sectional. He advanced to state in both the discus and the shot put, showing the rest of the way.
His junior teammate KeShawn Harrington-McKinney rose to the occasion as well, tossing in a 54-6 to advance to state in the shot put as well. And Hononegah’s Jacob Klink advanced out of the same sectional in the shot put by soaring past the state standard, while Rochelle’s Zach Sanford, who has overcome a lot over the past year, put it all behind him as he qualified out of the 2A Rochelle Sectional in the shot put on Wednesday.
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Along with the rest of the standouts from the area who finished either first or second in their events, or eclipsed the state standards, they will now get set for the boys state track and field meet in Charleston from May 26-28.
One of those, Sanford, tore the ACL in his knee one year and one week ago from the day he advanced to state.
“It was such a weight off my shoulders to get through to state,” said Sanford, who placed fifth at sectionals on Wednesday, but his throw of 48 feet, 5 1/2 inches was just good enough to get him down to state on distance. “After all that, a year and a week later I’m back here qualifying for state in the shot put. … And there’s a lot more room in the tank for state now, too.”
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The throwers weren’t alone, and led by sophomore Nico Bertolino, Belvidere North advanced out of the 3A Huntley Sectional in seven individual events and a relay on Wednesday as well. For Freeport, it was just hurdler Bayley Pierce who made it out of the 2A Rochelle Sectional, but he made it in both of his events.
“It feels incredible. Now I can go home and sleep,” said Pierce, who took second in both the 110 highs and the 300 intermediates. “I was dying, but I knew I had to fight through it, I knew I had to battle through it all and go get it.”
Here is a look at all the state qualifiers from the area:
Individual qualifiers: Belvidere North sophomore Nico Bertolino won the 100-meter dash in 10.96 and his senior teammate Tristen Powers took second in 11.07; Bertolino took second in the 200 dash in 22.43; Guilford senior Mike Smith Jr. won the 200 dash in 22:40; Belvidere North sophomore Braeden Brown took second in the 400 run in 52.00; Hononegah senior Philip Winkelman took second in the 800 run in 1:59.66; Belvidere North senior Caden McNulty won the 1,600 run in 4:27.64 and Guilford sophomore Brandon Lawson got second in the 1,600 run in 4:29.44;
Relay qualifiers: East’s 400 relay got first in 42.79; Belvidere North’s 400 relay got second in 42.92; East’s 800 relay got second in 1:30.97; East’s 1,600 relay got first in 3:26.80.
Field event qualifiers: Harlem junior KeShawn Harrington-McKinney got third in shot put but advanced on distance with a 54-6; Harlem senior Riley Lundgren got fourth in shot put but advanced on distance with a 54-1; Hononegah junior Jacob Klink got fifth in shot put but advanced on distance with a 54-0; Lundgren won the discus in 171-6; East sophomore Javius Catlin won the long jump at 22-7; Belvidere North Powers got second in the long jump in 21-5; Jefferson sophomore Chauncey Jackson won the triple jump in 43-0.
State qualifiers: Freeport senior Bayley Pierce second in the 110 high hurdles in 15.83; Pierce second in the 300 intermediate hurdles in 40.92; Rochelle senior Zach Sanford took fifth in shot put but advanced to state on distance with a 48-5.
This story will be updated after the rest of the area teams complete their sectional track and field meets.
Jay Taft is a Rockford Register Star sports reporter. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @JayTaft. Sign up for the Rockford High School newsletter at rrstar.com.