CHARLESTON — The beginning of the IHSA Class 1A Boys State Track & Field Meet preliminary round was hot and every person involved — whether an athlete or spectator — was sweating.
A few hours later, the temperature and the clouds performed a 180 to unleash lightning, thunder, rain and a chill Thursday at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium in Charleston.
It didn’t matter what Mother Nature had in store, the senior-laden Bureau Valley 3,200- and 1,600-meter relay teams were ready to weather the storm to qualify for Saturday’s finals.
“It means everything,” BV 1,600 relay member Tucker Schoff said. “It’s not like we had a lot of events down here, but I think we have a good chance in both of our relays to get a medal. I’m just excited about it.”
The 3,200 relay was the first event to endure the sun and its heat as the race kicked off at 11 a.m.
Kane Eastwood, Ryan Taylor, Colten Peterson and Daniel Trone were part of the third and final heat of the relay and made it to the track at almost the hottest part of the day.
After jostling for position — including for the lead on multiple occasions — the Storm crossed the finish line at 8:09.63 for third in the heat and to place fifth in finals qualifying.
“When you look at the third place you’re kind of upset, but then you look at the clock and you’re happy to just do that,” 3,200 relay anchor Trone said. “I’m very proud of my guys. The primary goal is just to push ourselves and we’ll go where we need to go. We’re just trying to make the finals.”
After an almost 4 ½-hour delay because of numerous 30-minute suspensions thanks to the thunder and lightning, the 1,600 relay — the last event of the day — didn’t get to take the track for competition until 6:30 p.m.
Still, the passion to receive a medal bolstered Trone, Schoff, Peterson and Eastwood to finish the race in 3:27.85.
The Storm’s time placed them second in their heat and gave them the sixth best finish out of the 29 teams in four heats to earn them a spot in the finals.
“It’s a blessing to run with those three other seniors on our relay team,” Eastwood said. “We worked so hard this year to get down here and do what we did.”
Besides running on the relay teams, Eastwood and Schoff competed in the individual events they qualified for at Friday’s Class 1A Erie Sectional.
In the 800, Eastwood took the lead at the start of the last lap but couldn’t keep the pace and slipped to fifth in his heat with a time of 2:01.09 to finish less than a second out of finals qualification.
“In the last 200 meters, I started dying,” Eastwood said. “I started the second lap good and was alright up until the last 200. I did better than what I thought I was going to do.”
Schoff was in the thick of things in the 300 hurdles until the cluster of the entire field was divided at the second to last hurdle when Fieldcrest senior and leader of the race Dawson White hit the hurdle and fell hard to the ground.
Vienna’s Trenton Lowery, who was on the left side of White, seized the opportunity for a qualifying spot and pressed ahead for the win, while Schoff slipped to fourth with a time of 42.22 seconds.
“It’s great, it was definitely my goal to make it in 300 hurdles this year,” Schoff said. “I’m just glad I made it. I didn’t get my best, but it’s worth it.”
Notes: White laid on the ground for a minute grimacing in pain but was helped up by athletic trainers and was walking on his own a couple minutes later. He was unable to finish the race.
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.