CHARLESTON, Ill. — In the final flight of the Class 3A discus Friday afternoon at Eastern Illinois University, the tension released by Stephen Hubona was palpable after the second throw.
The Benet senior, the lone qualifier for the Redwings at the boys track and field state finals, unleashed the discus 185 feet and an inch to take a commanding lead after the first three throws of the two-day competition.
Hubona leads Ricky Hurley, the Cary-Grove junior who was the No. 1 seed entering the meet, by more than 15 feet.
Waubonsie Valley senior Jon Harris’ best effort left him in third place at 167-5.
“A giant load off of me,” Hubona said after his preliminaries.
Hubona was not happy with how the Lake Park Sectional ended last week.
“I was a little disappointed not to be throwing last in this flight,” Hubona said of his second seed. “I think for [Saturday] I can just let it all out and see what happens.”
Hubona is looking for make history as the first individual boys champion in track and field at Benet.
“I’m going to be going for [200 feet in the finals],” Hubona said. “Absolutely. I’m a little bit away right now.”
The eye-popping lead Hubona enjoys after the first day overshadowed a captivating all-around day by Neuqua Valley junior Ty Moss.
Anchoring the Wildcats’ 3,200 relay to start his afternoon, Moss turned on the afterburners to win the heat in 7 minutes, 47.63 seconds.
Moss turned in another scintillating 800 run in the open event by also winning his heat in 1:55.43.
“My strategy was to go out hard,” Moss said of the open 800. “It worked out to my favor.”
The Wildcats’ junior then turned in the second leg of another victorious relay, the 1,600 in 3:18.61.
“We couldn’t catch them all at once,” Moss said of the Wildcats’ formidable disadvantage in the early stages of the 3,200 relay. “We gradually caught up to people.”
Winning the heat in the 1,600 relay also earned Moss and Co. an automatic berth in the finals.
“That was definitely our mindset,” Moss said of fellow relay members Kyle Bender, Nick Rafacz and Zac Espinosa.
The Wildcats nipped Naperville Central for the second straight time. Nine one-hundredths separated the schools’ relays — 3:18.61 and 3:18.7.
Naperville Central senior Sam Bransby not only anchored the Redhawks’ relay to a winning heat title but also turned back Espinosa by two one-hundredths in the open 400 (49.0) to earn another automatic finals bid.
“I wasn’t really happy with the time [in the 400],” Bransby said. “The heat got to me a little.”
Neuqua Valley field-event performers Austin Parks [triple jump] and Adam Peterson [pole vault] advanced to the finals in their specialties.