CHARLESTON, Ill. — Lucas Ege had a nice bonus on the opening day of the Class 2A boys track and field state meet on Friday morning.
The Burlington Central junior was a prohibitive favorite to reach the finals in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. He did so with ease by remaining undefeated on the season with two heat-winning victories.
But Ege doubled his pleasure when the Rockets’ 400 and 1,600 relays — for which he is the lead leg on both units — also made the cut of the three-day state meet at Eastern Illinois University.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Ege said of being a four-event finalist. “I never thought we would do this well in relays.”
Ege trails only Cahokia senior Gary Hickman in the 110 high hurdles after posting a first-day time of 14.54 seconds.
“In the highs I could have gone a lot faster,” Ege said. “I hit a couple of hurdles. In the 300s I just wanted to win my heat. I wasn’t trying for a PR.”
The Rockets have one of the top 1,600 relays (3:23) as Ege teams with Kyle Neubauer, Casey Matthews and Matt O’Connor, who also made the finals in the 800 (1:57.33).
But Burlington Central and St. Charles North shared a common destiny in the twin preliminaries for the two largest divisions.
The North Stars joined Burlington Central as the lone local program to advance any athletes to the final day of the season.
St. Charles North twin field stars, Erik Miller in the high jump and pole-vaulter JT Grill, are both fighting for potential top medal honors after making the mandatory heights for finals inclusion.
Miller had no misses in clearing the first-round standard of 6 feet, 4 inches; Grill duplicated the feat by avoiding all obstacles to the opening-day objective of 13-9.
But Jack Feeney did something neither of his companions can claim. Feeney launched the North Stars’ 3,200 relay on its way to a finals berth. The senior has now started St. Charles North relays in the state preliminaries at all four distances since his sophomore year.
The North Stars’ quartet — which also features Steve Lewandowski, Chris Suda and Nathan Klair — qualified in 7:55.57.
“That was crazy,” Feeney said. “We literally just threw that team together a couple of weeks ago. (The other team members) have been dying to get to finals (the last three years). I have only run this distance (the 800) about 10 times. I guess it worked.”
Huntley junior Connor Boos was a four-event qualifier for the Raiders. But he failed to advance in either the open 100 or 200, or the two shortest sprint relays.
“It was really an honor to come down here in four events,” Boos said. “It was very exciting.”