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High school track and field: Sycamore’s 4x800 group wins 2A state title

CHARLESTON – Sycamore’s 4x800-meter relay team paid close attention to the first heat and what Mascoutah had done at the Class 2A Boys Track and Field State Meet.

With a different format at this year’s state meets, there are no qualifying heats and finals. Everyone is placed on time. Mascoutah’s 8:07.99 was impressive and could challenge out of a heat with slower times from sectionals.

“We were back there and saw that time, and they were hauling down that last stretch and we looked around and were like, ‘All right, we have some work to do,’” senior Donny Gramer said. “It wasn’t just [winning] our heat.”

Gramer, Carson Campbell, Nick Kocher and Caden Emmert held off St. Viator in their own heat and bested Mascoutah’s time with an 8:07.67 to take the state title Friday at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium.

Emmert, running the anchor leg, was grateful for the challenge from St. Viator’s anchor man Lucas Donald.

“That kid was coming up and passing me, and I got a little nervous,” Emmert said. “But in my head I was thinking, ‘State champs. State champs.’ That helped push me past him, and without him, we definitely wouldn’t have reached that time.”

The Spartans’ Tyler Carter took a pair of fifths in the 110 high (14.78) and 300 intermediate hurdles (39.25). Sycamore’s 4x100 team of Jeffrey Oestreicher, Noah Schmidt, Alec Garcia and Bailey Wiegmann took fifth (42.99).

Sycamore’s 4x200 team was 10th, and Spartans long jumper Olek Clark was 11th. Genoa-Kingston’s Se Abracia-Wendel took 12th in the 100 in 11.14.

Sycamore’s 4x800 team was seeded seventh out of sectional meets with an 8:18.78. The Spartans were confident they could fare much better than that.

“Today was our best race all season,” Campbell said. “We really peaked at the right time.”

Kocher admitted it was a “little worrisome” after seeing Mascoutah post its time.

“Everything fell together perfectly for the whole race,” Gramer said. “We were exectly where we wanted to be. We stayed focused the whole week, running through the little things. We knew we had a shot the whole time.”

Carter was close to where he was seeded to take home two hurdles medals.

“I was a little nervous. There’s a lot of good competitors out there today,” said Carter, who ran a personal-best in the 110s. “I hit the second hurdle. It took a big chunk out of me, and I just went. Imagine if I didn’t [hit a hurdle], right?

“I ran low 39s [in the 300 hurdles]. I was hoping to get into the 38s, but I couldn’t be happier with today.”

The Spartans’ 4x100 team took fifth out of the second heat of that race. The third heat had the fastest sectional times.

“We always knew if we placed high in our heat we would have a chance of medaling,” Garcia said. “It was a good experience for us. The last three times we ran the 4x100 we (had personal records).”

Olek Clark was seeded high in the long and triple jumps but finished high school on a disappointing note. Clark, who will compete at St. Francis University in Joliet, was 11th in the long jump and scratched on all four of his triple jump attempts.

“I don’t know if it was nerves. It was a tough day,” Clark said. “I really can’t say what happened. I’m having fun, and everyone else is doing great, and I’m still celebrating with everybody.

“It’s a sad ending to my senior year, but my coaches were saying just use this as fuel for the next four years and never let it happen again. Keep my head up. It’s just not where I wanted to be today.”