Boys track and field: Princeton throwing crew looking to make noise at state

Tigers’ junior Bennett Williams seeded second in discus

Princeton's Payne Miler throws shot put during the Class 2A track sectional meet on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at Geneseo High School.

The Princeton boys track and field team will have four throwers competing in the IHSA Class 2A State Track and Field preliminaries Friday.

Junior Bennett Williams credits head coach Dan Foes and assistant Curtis Odell, along with the advice of Paul Payne for helping the Tigers have such a strong throwing group this season.

“They know what they’re talking about,” Williams said. “Our guys are very coachable. We listen well, and it allows us to just be able to get to work at practice and not stray off course.

“Cade Odell’s father, Curtis Odell, is our assistant, and he’s a big part as well [along with Foes]. He’s always there working through it with us. He brings the cameras, making sure we can review film. Payne Miller’s father, Paul, threw [at a high level]. He’s not a coach, but it’s really good having him to critique our form as well.”

Williams enters the state meet as the No. 2 seed with his sectional-winning toss of 52.79 meters – which is his personal record – at the Geneseo Sectional. Salem’s Caleb Smith owns the top sectional throw at 53.5 meters.

“I’m hoping I can PR again and throw 53 at least,” Williams said. “If I can do that, I’ll break the [school’s] junior record for discus. I’m hoping I can place at least top five at state.”

Teammate Ian Morris is seeded 11th at 47.69 meters. The top 12 throwers advance to Saturday’s finals.

La Salle-Peru sophomore Richie Santiago was a surprise state qualifier as he entered the Geneseo Sectional seeded 16th but placed sixth and beat the state-qualifying standard with a toss of 43.97 meters.

He is seeded 23rd entering state.

“I’m not sure [what to expect],” Santiago said. “I’m just excited to see what comes.”

Two Princeton throwers will compete in the shot put as well in Payne Miller and Cade Odell.

Miller enters as the No. 7 seed with his sectional toss of 16.31 meters. His best throw this season is 17.64 meters.

Odell is seeded 21st at 14.8 meters.

In Class 1A, Bureau Valley senior Elijah House will be busy as he qualified in four events.

House was the Rockridge Sectional champion in the 400 meters in 51.46 seconds, which ranks him 13 entering state. The top nine advance to Saturday’s finals and House should be in the mix with the ninth-seeded time at 51.2 seconds.

House also seeded 13 in the 800 at 2:00.45. The top 12 advance to the finals in that event, and he’s less than half a second off the 12th-seeded time of 2:00.05.

The senior also will anchor the Storm’s 4x800 relay that is seeded to make finals at 10 in 8:27.5. Adrian Gallardo, Benjamin Roth and Maddox Moore join House on the relay.

In the 4x400, the Amboy co-op and Bureau Valley were two of 10 teams to advance out of the Rockridge Sectional.

The Clipper foursome of Joel Billhorn, Zane Murphy, Caleb Yonos and Kyler McNinch is seeded 23rd at 3:34.73, while BV’s Dylan Macklin, Roth, Gallardo and House are seeded 33rd at 3:34.68.

St. Bede senior Tom Makransky cleared a personal best 3.55 meters to qualify in the pole vault. He is seeded 25th. Teammate Greyson Marincic is seeded 33rd in the 300 hurdles at 43.81 seconds.

Fieldcrest’s Caleb Krischel ran a state-qualifying time of 4:38.75 in the 1,600, which ranks him 27th entering the state meet.