The conclusion of the indoor boys track and field season could not have been more stark for St. Charles East sprinter Jordan Duncan.
A prohibitive favorite at 200 meters at the Upstate Eight Conference championship, the senior was disqualified for false starting after earlier botching a baton exchange as the Saints led the 800 relay.
“We thought that 200 was going to be a lock,” St. Charles East coach Chris Bosworth said.
But all was forgiven the following weekend in Bloomington when Duncan, who had never even qualified for a Class 3A state meet event, stunned the field at 200 meters to win in 22.16 seconds for a Top Times championship.
Cole Henderson, the defending state champion from Pekin, was three-tenths of a second behind the Saints’ standout.
“I was surprised but at the same time I wasn’t surprised,” Duncan said of his win. “The lesson I learned (from the conference championship) was to be more patient.”
As the outdoor season begins in earnest this weekend — the Saints competed at the prestigious Gus Scott Invitational at Naperville North on Thursday night — Duncan has high hopes on a final campaign.
Duncan is not only expected to be a major point-earner between 100 and 400 meters this spring but also an indispensable member of the Saints’ sprint relays.
The Saints are expected to have viable state-qualifying quartets at 400 and 800 meters with Duncan as the linchpin with aid from junior Mo Flanigan, sophomore Devon Kelly and senior Frank Choloupka.
“I think we’re going to make (an impact) more in the relays than in open events,” Duncan said of his primary state aspirations. “Our team wasn’t together last year as we are right now.”
But Duncan and Bosworth are both convinced individual glory is attainable in the 200 dash.
“That (Top Times time in the 200) broke our school record outdoors indoors,” Bosworth said. “He should be in the mix for a state championship.”
Duncan, who will alternate the 100 and 400 events with the sprint relays at the major invites, has one central aim in terms of fine-tuning his performance at 200 meters this spring.
“I want to be in the 21-(second) range,” Duncan said. “My goal is to get to 21-flat by the end of the season.”
“If he gets 21-flat (at the state finals) he will on the top of the podium,” Bosworth said.
“I am something of a contender,” Duncan said of his statewide status in the event. “(The Top Times win) is going to help push me in every event.”
Duncan plans to pursue a running career at the collegiate level but is currently undecided on a potential destination.