The Du Quoin boys track team advanced three individuals and one relay team to the IHSA 1A state finals on Saturday, and all four finished in the Top 10.
"We were hoping for a little higher finish as a team (tied for 32nd with nine points) with our 4x100 finishing a little higher and getting our 4x200 to the finals," said Du Quoin coach Derek Beard. "We were looking for a top 20 finish, but fell short of that, but I'm still proud of this group regardless. They did a lot of good things."
Meanwhile, Isaac Teel of Pinckneyville was that school's only athlete to advance to the finals. He made the most of it, winning the 1600-meter run with a personal record time of 4:17.59. He also finished fifth in the 3200-meter run with a personal record time of 9:34.85.
In Du Quoin, two seniors finished their four-year varsity career in style with Jaden Smith finishing fifth in the long jump with a mighty leap of 21 feet, 6.25 inches, only one foot and one inch off the winning distance of 22-7.25.
"Jaden was seeded fifth coming in and had a good first jump in the prelims and that ended up carrying over in the finals," Beard said. "He had a couple nice jumps in the finals, but just couldn't get on the board after that."
Smith had come into the meet after winning his second straight conference time with a distance of 21-5.25 and his first sectional title with a personal record jump of 21-6.75.
Landen Swiney finished ninth in the 3200-meter run with a personal record time of 9:52.01.
"I'm just so happy to see him PR up there and he gets ninth place from the slow heat," Beard said. "The fast heat had a strange finish. The guy that was leading had about 15 meters to go and peeked over his shoulder to see if anybody was close to him and fell down and the guy who was behind him ended up winning. He was able to get up and finish second. I felt bad for that kid. He ran a heck of a race."
Swiney capped off his senior year by winning his third straight 3200-meter conference title with a time of 10:41.78. He qualified for state for the third time with a second-place finish at the sectional to Pinckneyville sophomore Isaac Teel.
The 4x100 sprint relay team of junior Malik Jones, freshman Tristan Webb, junior Jonathan Hamilton and sophomore Da'Marion Johnson finished seventh with a time of 44:04, finishing just 1.12 behind the winner. The same four runners won the 4x100 conference title with a time of 43.88. Smith replaced Jones at the sectional where the team won the title with a time of 44.35.
"Those guys are talented and that crew has only run that race together three times this year because of Malik being injured and that was the two times at state and at conference," Beard said. "We really felt like going in could go anywhere from first place to ninth place because the field was that tight. We ran 43.68 in prelims and had a terrible handoff in our last exchange, so we felt like if we got that zeroed in we'd be right in the hunt.
"In the finals our handoffs were really good, but we kind of fudged a little bit on the start -- I worried we were going to get disqualified -- and I think that kind of delayed our start a little bit, so we got behind early and in that race there isn't a lot of time to get caught up."
Jakob Eaton finished tied for 10th in the pole vault clearing 12-5.5. The junior was the only local qualifier to advance to the finals.
"Jakob has improved a little bit of time all year," Beard said. "He started at 10-feet and 11-6 at the beginning of the year and had a really good attempt at 13 feet on Thursday and in the finals. Getting to finals and experiencing it to know what its like. We feel like he's in a position to hopefully in the top five next year."
Eaton was coming off his first conference title in pole vault by clearing 12-feet and his first sectional title with a height of 12-1.25.
The 4x200 and 4x800 relay teams didn't advance to Saturday's finals with the 4x200 team of Hamilton, junior Elijah Jones, Jones and Johnson finishing 13th in the prelims with a personal record time of 1:32.88.
"We thought the 4x200 had a good chance to make the finals and our first handoff was not good," Beard said. "Elijah had to stop and turn around to get the baton and in a sprint relay you can't do that. They still ran a PR and that was good, but we knew things had to be perfect for that group to make the finals."
Hamilton also qualified for the state in the 100-meter dash, but was scratched in the prelims to concentrate on his relay duties.
The 4x800 team of senior Nathan Smith, sophomore Conor Gross, sophomore Jayden Fred and freshman Jaxon VanZandt finished 23rd in the prelims with a time of 8:48.62.
Henry Harsy also didn't qualify for the finals in the shot put finishing 18th in the prelim with a personal record toss of 44-10.25. The sophomore has been solid all season winning his first conference in the shot put with a then personal record heave of 44-4.75 and finished second at the sectionals with new personal record throw of 44-7.50.
"To go up to state and PR is hard to do and Henry did it by almost three inches," Beard said. "We knew it would be a long shot to make the make the finals in the discus."
Harsy also didn't qualify for the finals in the discus finishing 28th in the discus with a throw of 123-40.
Kameron Hugya ran a personal record 16:53 in the 110-meter hurdles in the prelims, but missed the cut for the finals with an 18th place finish.
"We told Kameron if he could go up there and PR that's all you can do," Beard said. "He's a kid who hurdled a little bit in the past and we got him down to three-stepping instead of four, which was something he wasn't real comfortable with at the beginning of the year. Coach Al Martin still coaches our hurdlers and he got him down two seconds this year."
The junior won the sectional with a time of 17.59. He finishing second at the conference meet in the 110-meter with a time of 16.92 and second in the 300-meter hurdles to Carterville senior Townsend Barton, who didn't run the 110-meters at the sectionals, but finished fourth in the 300-meters at the state 2A championships.
Eli Nehring also qualified for the state meet in the pole vault, but didn't make it out of the prelims finishing 26th by clearing 10-feet. The sophomore finished second at the conference meet by also topping out at 10-feet and second at the sectional with a height of 10-8.
"Eli just started pole vaulting last year," Beard said. "He loves the event and loves to compete and got better all year. I know he was disappointed where he finished at state. I look forward to working with him the next couple years."
The only other 1A local athletes to advance to the finals were Christopher senior Josh Bevis, who finished sixth in the 300 hurdles and Flora senior Isaac Stanford seventh in the 800-meters.
In 2A Herrin won two titles with freshman Chris Brown winning the 100, finishing fifth in the 200 and was tied for fifth in the high jump and the 4x200 relay team winning the title.
For Centralia junior JahChys Brown won the shot put and finished third in the discus.
Mt. Vernon advanced four individuals and one relay team with junior Jacob Morrison winning the long jump, senior Tanner Koontz finishing second in the pole vault, senior Alec Sledge third in the 300 hurdles and fourth in the 110 hurdles, the 4x100 relay team seventh and sophomore Trey Mygatt 10th in the 800.
Marion advanced four individuals and two relay teams to the finals with the 4x800 relay team finishing third; sophomore Dylan Nalley fourth in the 3200; the 4x400 relay team fifth; senior Colin Beers sixth in the pole vault; senior Bryson Wilson fifth in the long jump and seventh in the 400 and senior Kane Carter 11th in the shot put.
Other local state finalists were Benton sophomore Gavin Genisio finishing second in the 800 and fifth in the 1600 and Carbondale senior Jordan Lopez 10th in the shot put.