Boys track: Three Princeton throwers look to bring home medals

Athletes from L-P, St. Bede, Hall, Putnam County, Mendota, Bureau Valley, Fieldcrest competing

Princeton's Payne Miller puts his might into the shot put in Tuesday's Howard-Monier Invite.

The NewsTribune area will be well represented in the throws at the IHSA State Boys Track and Field Meet this week at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

Four area throwers will compete in the Class 2A preliminaries Friday and three area athletes will throw in the 1A prelims Thursday.

The finals for all three classes are Saturday.

In 2A, Princeton is once again sending a group of throwers to compete after qualifying four for state last year.

Senior Payne Miller and juniors Cade Odell and Ian Morris are headed back to state after all three competed last year, along with Bennett Williams, who suffered an injury during football and was limited in track this spring.

La Salle-Peru junior Richie Santiago also is making a return trip to state in the discus.

“Going back with multiple teammates just shows the talent our team has,” Morris said. “Being able to support each other creates a great atmosphere to perform well. All of us making it is a testament to how hard we worked all season. It should be a great weekend.”

Miller, who placed fifth in the shot put at last year’s state meet, will compete in both throws after winning both at the Galesburg Sectional.

Miller is seeded to be in contention in both events.

The Western Illinois University football recruit had the No. 4 sectional throw in the shot put at 16.93 meters. He sits behind Benton’s Andrew Kinsman (18.05), Salem’s Caleb Smith (17.68) and Troy Triad’s Zach Van Tieghem (16.94).

In the discus, Miller recorded the sixth-best sectional throw at 48.51. Salem’s Smith, the defending state champion, enters with the top mark at 53.77.

“I am looking to take the best seat in the house, which is obviously No. 1,” Miller said of the shot put. “But at the same time I know I’m going in there facing some really good competition, so who knows where it could really go, but I definitely want to be in the top five and probably even the top three. Discus, I don’t really know. It’s one of those events I do that I enjoy, but I really like to relax while I do it. I don’t really know where I’m going to go with that one. Hopefully, medaling, but other than that I really don’t have the highest of goals.”

Miller said he hopes to get into a strong position early.

“I’ve shown myself I can do it,” Miller said. “I think this year is about getting started early and moving from there. I would say [the keys to success are] staying calm and trusting my technique.”

Both of Miller’s teammates could be in the medal mix as well.

Odell, who made the finals and finished 12th last year, recorded the ninth-best sectional shot put at 15.79. The top nine earn medals.

“I would love to place,” Odell said. “Last year I didn’t. I got 12th, just outside of the medals, so I would like to medal this year.

“I think to be successful this year it will take not getting in my head, and just keep doing what I’ve been doing all year.”

Princeton's Ian Morris throws discus during the Ferris Invitational on Monday, April 15, 2024 at Princeton High School.

Morris comes in at No. 11 in the discus at 47.53 with the top 12 making the finals. He finished 18th last season.

Santiago enters with the No. 25 throw at 44.23.

“My goal is to make it to the finals and bring home some hardware,” Morris said. “Last year, I didn’t perform well in the prelims and unfortunately didn’t make it to Saturday.

“To be successful, I will just have to be smooth. When I try to throw too fast or muscle it, things don’t go well. All I have to do is follow my visual cues, hit my spots and get a good release.”

In 1A, Bureau Valley junior Landon Hulsing qualified for state in the discus in a very tough sectional.

He placed third behind Rockridge’s Alex Zarlatanes (51.32) and Vaughn Frere (46.74), who had the No. 1 and No. 3 sectional throws in the state, respectively.

Hulsing enters state with the sixth-best sectional mark at 45.85.

Putnam County sophomore Alex Rodriguez was a sectional champion in both throws.

He recorded the 14th-best throw in the discus at 43.97 and the No. 21 mark in the shot put at 14.36.

Amboy co-op senior Ian Sundberg comes in with the No. 17 mark in the shot put at 14.63.

Two area athletes will compete in the triple jump in Bureau Valley junior Justin Moon and Hall junior Ryan Bosi, who recorded the No. 17 (12.61) and No. 31 (12.09) sectional marks.

On the track, the two area athletes will run in Class 2A.

L-P sophomore Griffin Hammers will run in the 800 meters after recording the No. 28 sectional time of 2:00.14, while Mendota sophomore Sebastian Carlos will compete in the 400 after coming in with the No. 31 sectional time of 51.5.

On the track in 1A, Fieldcrest junior Caleb Krischel has a chance to be in the finals mix in the 800.

He comes in tied for the No. 19 sectional time at 2:00.09, which is within a second of the No. 12 seed with the top 12 prelim times making finals.

St. Bede junior Greyson Marincic will run in the 110 hurdles where he had the No. 29 sectional time (16.8) and the 300 hurdles where he comes in with the No. 26 sectional time (43.09), while Hall senior Caleb Bickett will compete in the 100 and 200. He enters state with the No. 43 sectional time in the 100 (11.55) and No. 32 time in the 200 (23.13).

Bickett also will run on Hall’s 4x100 relay along with Bosi, Joseph Bacidore and Jeremy Smith. The Red Devils ran the No. 31 sectional time at 44.95.

(From left) Hall's Joseph Bacidore, Rock Falls's Adan Oquendo, Hall's Caleb Bickett, Princeton's Evan Driscoll and Casey Etheridge compete in the 100 meter dash during the Ferris Invitational on Monday, April 15, 2024 at Princeton High School.
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