Sectional champ M-S boys to compete at state track


Mahomet Citizen Sportswriter

The Mahomet-Seymour boys’ track and field team has been on a roll.

Since mid-April, the Bulldogs finished third (behind two Class 3A teams) at the highly competitive Capital City Classic Invitational, won the Pontiac Relays, the Corn Belt Conference meet and the 21-team Mahomet-Seymour Invitational.

Last week, with heavy hearts because of the death of junior Jacob Hamilton one day earlier, the Bulldogs continued their streak by capturing the Mahomet-Seymour Class 2A Sectional title with 97 points.

“We have known all season that we had potential,” said Todd Lafond, “but it was a matter of getting our young men in the best shape mentally and physically to be in their best place heading into the state meet.”

One Bulldog relay team and nine individual athletes qualified for the state track meet, which starts for M-S on Friday.

The individual athletes include junior Callan Whitehouse, freshman Hunter Hendershot, sophomore Mathias Powell, senior Brian Butcher, senior Ben Craw, junior Brandon Bretz, senior Gabe Pommier, junior Riley Fortune and junior Ryan Hodge.

“We believe that we have a shot to trophy at the state meet if a lot of things go our way,” said Lafond. “Cahokia has been the best team in 2A for the last several years and will probably win the state meet again. There are then five to six teams that should compete for second and third, and we hope to be one of those two teams.”

The Bulldogs swept the four distance/mid-distance events for a large chunk of their points.

Powell won the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9:33.07, and Butcher placed second at 9:34.37.

“Brian ran a 9:22.94 earlier in the season and Mathias ran a 9:33.07,” said Lafond. “They should both be in the fast heat of the 3,200 next Saturday and then it will be all about heart and competitiveness on that day, and we have a lot of confidence in both of these young men to be two of the best 3,200 runners in the state.”

Pommier ran the 1,600 meter in 4:28.47 for the win, and Hodge took second at 4:29.30.

“The 1,600 at the state meet should be a great race with several guys competing for medals and both of these young men should be medal-winners in this race,” said Lafond.

Pommier’s best time for the year is 4:18.10 and Hodge’s is 4:23.37.

Craw ran the 800 meters in 1:57.49 for first, and

Fortune placed seventh to qualify with a time of 1:59.64.

“The 800, like the 1,600 and 3,200 at the state meet, is going to be very competitive,” Lafond said. “We will be asking a lot of these two, plus Ryan Hodge, to compete at a high level in their second races of the day, but we still believe that they can both place at the state meet.”

Fortune’s personal record is 1:56.19 and Craw’s is 1:58.16.

Bretz won the 400-meter dash in 50.23 to qualify for state. He also placed third in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.68 and fifth in the 100-meter dash at 11.40.

“Brandon has been a short sprinter who we believed we could stretch out and run the 400, and even though he has only ran the race, maybe seven times in his life, he could be in the top three or four at the state meet,” Lafond said.

His best time of the year is 49.6.

Whitehouse pole vaulted 13 feet, 1 inch for sixth place and qualified.

“Callan vaulted 14 feet in early February,” Lafond said, “but then broke his hand and is just now getting to where we knew he would be by going 15 feet at our Invite. We believe that he can be an all-state performer.”

Hendershot was the only Bulldog this season to qualify for state in two individual events.

He placed second in the discus with a throw of 154-10 and second in the shot put with a toss of 51-11/4.

“Hunter has been impressing all season,” Lafond said. “He had a difficult spell for a couple of weeks but is back on track at the right time. He, too, has the potential of scoring points at the state meet and him getting there as a freshman will have huge dividends for him in the coming years as he continues to grow and develop as a thrower.”

Hendershot’s personal best this season was 51-3 in the shot and 159-10 in the discus.

M-S’ 3,200-meter relay team of Craw, Hodge, Fortune and Patrik Elkins took first place with a time of 8:11.56.

“These young men have gone against some of the best 3,200-relay teams in the state and have competed at a high level from the first meet of the season, breaking several meet records,” Lafond said. “Last week at our invite, they ran a 7:57.78, only about 1.1 seconds away from the school record. We believe that they can place in the top two-to-three at the state meet, and win it if they have their best races of the year.”

The relay alternates for state are Pommier, Kaelan Davis and Andrew Walmer.

Other Bulldogs to finish in the top 10 spots at the sectional are:

— Joshua Johnson placed fifth in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 43.02, and Adam Von Holten followed in seventh place at 44.21;

— Johnson also placed 10th in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 17.16;

— Corey Cebulski barely missed out on a state-qualifying height in the pole vault. He vaulted 12-7 for seventh place;

— Skyler O’Connor tossed the shot put 43-7 for ninth place;

— The Bulldogs’ three other relay teams also finished among the top nine;

— The 400-meter relay team and the 800-meter relay teams each placed fifth with times of 45.71 and 1:35.87, respectively;

— The 1,600-meter relay team took ninth with a time of 3:38.96.

The state meet schedule calls for finals in all three classes to be held at O’Brien Field on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston on Saturday.



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