CHARLESTON, Ill. — Kaneland has three-time Class 2A state champion Cahokia in the crosshairs after the opening day of the boys track and field state finals at Eastern Illinois University.
The Knights lead all finals qualifiers with 12 individuals and three relays — Cahokia has 13 total finalists — after the Friday preliminaries.
“[Saturday] is going to be the greatest way to end high school,” Kaneland senior Dylan Nauert said after qualifying in both hurdles events and the 400 and 800 relays. “All the events we qualified in, we’re going to do the best we can and see where it takes us.”
Nate Dyer is the overnight leader in the shot put for Kaneland by almost a foot and a half after unleashing a career-best throw of 56 feet, 9 inches on his final attempt.
“[Cahokia will] have some mishaps, and we’ll have some mishaps,” Dyer predicted. “We’ll do some great things [in finals], and they’ll do some great things. We have to make sure we’re scoring at the highest ability.”
The Knights’ ability to double score in various events is at the core of their chance to dethrone the Comanches.
Dylan Kuipers and Dan Evers are both alive in the pole vault for the Knights after clearing the mandatory height of 13-9.
Brock Robertson joins Nauert in both the 110 high hurdles and 300 intermediate hurdles for Kaneland.
The Knights’ 1,600 and 3,200 relays are among the best in the state behind returning state champions Kyle Carter and Nathaniel Kucera. Both not only provide indispensable legs to the two quartets. They also made the cut in the open 400.
Plano also qualified senior sprinter Javon Montgomery in the 100 dash; he also anchors the 400 relay that includes triple-jump finalists Shaun Wollenweber and Jon McDermitt.
Aurora Central Catholic has twin finalists in high hurdler Patrick Lefevre and half-miler Javier Montelongo, who won his 800 heat in 1:58.01.
In Class 3A action, Geneva senior Blaine Bartell continued his brilliant 800 run from the Bartlett Sectional to make the finals for the first time in his career in the event.
West Aurora senior Brady McCue also made the state cut at the distance.
“I didn’t want to lead the front pack,” Bartell said. “I didn’t want to get boxed in, either.”
Outdoor high-jump leader Tyler Maryanski of Marmion and his counterpart at Batavia, Mark Rudelich, are the lone finalists for their two schools.
West Aurora triple jumpers Chris Walker and DaVion Cross continue to make waves with their finals berths.
Yorkville junior Jake Hoffert will be in both the 1,600 and 3,200 finals. The 3,200 run has no state preliminary.
Waubonsie Valley senior Jon Harris’ 167-5 throw in the discus is third after the first day.
East Aurora senior Desmond Gant is in the hunt for a title in the 200.