ST. CHARLES – What began as a harmless attempt at fun very quickly became an athletic calling for Bryce Thomas.
Thomas, a St. Charles North junior, just ran the 4x800 relay at the Class 3A state track meet last year. Thomas, though, hurdled at practice simply because he could. It became evident rather soon finishing hurdles in practice could translate to meets.
“...He was a fast kid jumping over things, he learned to hurdle,” North Stars coach Kevin Harrington said at the Class 3A Batavia Sectional last week.
The combination of working with former Maine South coach Scott Sutschek and diligent work over the course of a year is now coming to fruition with Thomas representing the North Stars in the 110 and 300-meter hurdles in Charleston. The Class 2A and Class 3A preliminaries are Friday at Eastern Illinois University, with finals in all classes Saturday.
“I’ve been nonstop hurdling since last summer with different coaches, by myself and a variety of techniques,” Thomas said. “It was really our new coach from Maine South [Scott Sutschek] that moved here this year that led to my growth, I would say. He’s a funny guy who definitely knows his stuff, so while we’ve not always been on the same page, he’s played a huge part in my hurdle career this year.”
From being initially known as a “fast kid jumping over things” to now potential state medalist, it’s a small success story that could inspire the so-called ‘next Bryce Thomas’ down the line.
“I would say never limit yourself because sometimes even you don’t know what you’re capable of,” Thomas said. “Track is a fun sport and should be treated like it, so try something new because you never know it could end up well.”
Other North Stars competitors in Charleston include their three relays: 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400. Plus, senior Henry Warsaw in shot put and Nathan McLoughlin in pole vault.
Batavia, of course, is the defending Class 3A state champions. After sweeping the Kane County meet, DuKane Conference and their own sectional as a team, the Bulldogs have yet another strong contingent ready for a repeat bid.
Bulldogs senior Alec Crum will be triple booked in competing in the triple, high and long jumps in addition to his role on the 4x400 relay.
“…But, I came really close in the triple [last year] and that was the one thing I really did want to go into [state this year],” Crum said at their sectional last week. “So, it was kind of my comeback; to qualify in three jumps and the 4x4, it means a lot.”
The Bulldogs will also run four relays.
Individually, Weston White will be running in the 100 and 200-meter dashes; Quintin Lowe in the 800 and 1,600-meter races; Ben Mathews in the 110-meter hurdles; Gabe Benkers in pole vault; and Luke Alwin in triple jump.
St. Charles East senior Mitch Garcia will run the 3,200 and Matthew Hall in the 110-hurdles.
Geneva’s Karl Gattinger will run the 100 meter and 200-meter dash; Jack Kuehl in the 800 and the Vikings’ 4x200 relay.
Representing Kaneland will be: Jake Gagne (100 meters); David Valkanov and Evan Nosek in the 3,200; Brett Larson in shot put; Brady Betustak in discus; Fredrick Hassan and Ryan Spence in high jump; Brayden Farmer in pole vault, plus the Knights’ 4x100 relay and 4x200 relay.
Burlington Central sent: Nolan Milas (100 meters, 200 meters); Nicholas Nuno in shot put; Grayson Burton and William Metz in pole vault, plus the Rockets’ 4x100 relay; 4x200 relay; 4x800 relays.