Jayden McCluskie-Green knows exactly what it takes to earn medals at the IHSA Boys Track and Field State Meet, and that knowledge has him in a great position to bring back another one, maybe two … and he may not be the only one to do so.
The Sandwich High School senior leads a strong Times-area contingent of Class 1A and 2A athletes into Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium this week, entering Friday’s 2A state final as the No. 1 seed in the triple jump, an event in which he placed second as a sophomore in 2019.
As with the girls meet a week ago, the meet’s new format will put each class on its own day, with 1A Thursday, 2A Friday and 3A Saturday, and there will be no preliminaries. Athletes simply will turn in their best time, jump or throw in the heat or flight to which they are assigned, hoping their performances will place them in the top nine for a medal when compiled.
At last week’s Rochelle Sectional, McCluskie-Green posted an effort of 14 meters even, which converts to about 45 feet, 10 inches. That’s 5 inches longer than the leap that placed him behind the since-graduated Khalil Ross of Springfield Lanphier.
McCluskie-Green, who also was seventh in the long jump in 2019, is this year the 10th seed in the 2A high jump at 1.87 meters.
But he’s far from the only substantial Sandwich hope for hardware. Teammate Michael Marrs heads south as the No. 4 seed in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes after his clockings of 10.99 and 22.12, respectively, at Rochelle.
Also, the Indians’ Steve Aguilar is the 18th seed in the 400 at 51.93 seconds, and Wyatt Miller is the 25th seed in the pole vault at 3.36 meters.
Streator also will be well represented in Charleston in the person of Kody Danko, who has the eighth-best time coming out of sectionals in the 800 with a 2:00.15 posting.
In Thursday’s Class 1A meet, the best seeds come from the south part of the Times area.
Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland thrower Kyle Uhl is ranked ninth in the shot put with his peg of 15.16 meters, and Fieldcrest’s Mason Stoeger is the No. 9 seed in the 1,600 with his 4:33.97 time.
Uhl’s FCW teammate, Phoenix Cooper, also is in the hunt as the No. 12-seeded discus thrower with a toss of 43.05 meters.
Marquette Academy’s lone representative, senior Lucas Hoffman, is a good bet to place higher than the 25th seed that his 4:45.21 at the Seneca Sectional earned him.
The Seneca Fighting Irish again will have the largest local group participating, as their girls did last week, with their best seed and chance for a medal this time is Carson Collet. His 3.71-meter effort in the pole vault in their own 1A sectional last week netted him the No. 9 seed.
After that, the Irish will face a tougher road to the medal stand, both individually and in relays.
Sigel is the No. 16 seed in the 100 high hurdles with his time of 16.45, while Carter Thomas is the 26th seed in the discus (34.53m), and freshman Nathan Grant the 33rd seed in the high jump (1.71m).
The 4x100 relay team of Chase Hauch, Trey Hauch, Kolya Cato and Ryan McCauley is the 18th seed (44.60), the 4x200 relay team of the two Hauchs, McCauley and Sigel is 21st (1:34.40) and the 4x800 relay team of Billy Glasscock, Chris Poyner, Spencer DeGraaf and Brady Danek is 24th (8:51.20). Finally, the 4x400 relay team of Trey Hauch, Glasscock, Collet and Wilson Widman is 26th (3:43.32).