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La Salle-Peru senior Logan Zeman clears the bar during the Class 2A preliminaries Friday at the IHSA State Track & Field Meet in Charleston. Zeman cleared 6 feet, 3 inches to advance to today’s finals. NewsTribune photo/Brandon LaChance
CHARLESTON — La Salle-Peru senior Logan Zeman and junior Brett Kowalczyk had goals when they qualified for the IHSA Boys State Track and Field Meet.
Zeman had ambitions of placing in the top three in the high jump and Kowalczyk wanted to medal in the shot put.
Both goals are possible since the Cavalier duo has advanced to Saturday’s state finals.
The senior high jumper easily cleared the first jump of 6 foot and repeated the ease on the qualifying height of 6-3.
“I just came here with the only thing in my head was to qualify,” Zeman said. “When you come, you don’t know what the qualifying height is, but it’s usually 6-2 or 6-3 and I can usually get that.
“I just came mentally prepared, got a good warm-up and was feeling really good right away.”
Now that he has made it to finals, Zeman’s goals have multiplied to a senior bucket list.
“I would really like to get 6-10 and break L-P’s record. I’ve been reaching for it since freshman year and I’m so close, so it would be nice to go out with a bang by breaking the record and winning the meet.”
Kowalczyk was nervous as he impatiently waited with his family to hear if his discus throw of 49-6 was good enough to make it to finals.
The two-time state qualifier was more than overjoyed when he found out he was the 11th out of 12 qualifiers.
“I felt fine yesterday and this morning and then I got in the ring and was shaking a little bit, but that’s expected because it’s state — a little nerves,” Kowalczyk said. “The (nerves) weren’t over because I didn’t throw my best and the last throw slipped a little bit.
“(Today) it will be better. I was ranked ninth coming in, so I want to medal this year.”
Mendota junior Ryan Reeder was in the second heat of the high jump — Zeman was in the first — but couldn’t get past injury issues that have been bothering him for the last month.
Reeder made the 6 foot jump, but could not get over the 6-2 mark in his three attempts.
“It’s pretty awesome to come down here but it didn’t turn out how I wanted it to,” Reeder said. “The hip flexor was just killing me the whole day. I tried to loosen it up as much as I could but it didn’t get too much looser. I just had to go out there and work with what I got.”
All the races involving area athletes were run by Princeton runners.
Princeton junior Drew Pranka, sophomores Kai Tomaszewski and Lenny Mead and senior Caleb Strom gave it their all in their last day of track and field on the season.
Mead was disappointed in himself for his time of 41 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles.
“It wasn’t a great race for me. I was going too high over my hurdles,” Mead said. “I’m upset that I’m here at state and I can do better than that. It makes me mad. I just expect better from myself than that.”
Tomaszewski ran a 52.09 in the 400 and was proud of making it as far as he did his sophomore season.
“This is the first time I’ve been here and it was nerve racking,” Tomaszewski said. “Just sitting in the tent (where the athletes await their event), it was just eating me away because I had no idea what to expect coming out here. Those guys are fast and proved what they can do.
“I think not coming out with an event to start off made me not warmed up enough and it’s hot. Sitting in the sun really drained me.”
Pranka finished the 110 hurdles in 15.36 and the 300 hurdles in 40.31.
The junior’s first trip to state sparked a desire to make next season trip No. 2.
“A lot of these guys run really, really fast times,” Pranka said. “I came in just looking to do my best and I did in both of my events today. It’s so much fun. You sit in the stands watching everything and it’s just amazing watching these guys go at it and it’s really fun to be a part of that.”