HAMPSHIRE – For the Dixon 1,600 relay team, things could not have started any worse on Friday night.
A false start at the beginning of their race went unnoticed for over 200 meters, and the race was stalled for 20 minutes at the Class 2A Burlington Central Sectional.
When the race finally restarted, the Dukes ran tough, finished third, and qualified for state with a time of 3 minutes, 27.33 seconds.
“I think we ran pretty well. When the timing system went off, it really messed up our first guy,” said Dixon’s Alex LaMendola before the announcement of his team's state status. “It’s going to be down to the wire, but I really hope so.”
LaMendola, Matt Coffey, Kylian Lally and Simon Thorpe will be heading to O'Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University to compete in the 2A state meet next week. Overall, Dixon finished fourth with 67 points. Sterling had 25 points to claim seventh place. Rock Falls finished with eight points. Kaneland was the winner with 183 points.
“For the most part, I am very pleased with our performances tonight,” Dixon coach Bruce Luther said. “The events that we thought we were going to make it, we did. The rest of the kids, even if they didn’t make it, they did well. They gave their effort.”
The 3,200 relay team of Lally, LaMendola, Chase Fisher and Evan Grady qualified in a time of 8:10.49, which placed them second in the event. Lally also qualified in the 800 in 1:59.59.
JD Gieson won the sectional title in the long jump with a distance of 21 feet, 10 inches. Gieson also qualified in the 300 hurdles; the junior ran in 39.40 to finish third. Six runners qualified in that race.
Thorpe will be going to the state meet for the second time in his career. The senior won the 1,600 (4:28.86) and the 3,200 (9:29.42).
“It feels pretty good," Thorpe said. "You don’t really think about it until you qualify for it. I want to run faster in the mile. I was a little tired. I am not really sure if I will run both at state.”
The Golden Warriors will be sending one athlete to state in freshman Jonathon Landis. Landis qualified in the 3,200 with a time of 9:47.11, but finished fifth in a very competitive race – five others qualified in that event.
“I’m tired, but I feel proud though. I just hope that next year I can go for the 1 mile and the 2 mile,” Landis said. “It’s an honor [to qualify]. And, I always know that I can improve on that. It is a good base.”
Sterling collected points in a few events, but could only manage to qualify in one event. Sterling coach Dennis Hartz said that his team gave it all it could.
“You are always happy. That is our goal, to qualify athletes for state,” Hartz said. “We knew it was going to be tough. We did all that we could do tonight. Everybody competed to the best of their ability.”
For Rock Falls, Brayden Hamblen also qualified in the 3,200, along with Thorpe and Landis. The freshman finished second with a time of 9:44.31.