CHARLESTON — Area athletes braved howling winds and soggy conditions during Thursday's Class 1A IHSA boys track and field preliminaries at Eastern Illinois University, and many local participants were able to ignore Mother Nature and turn in finals-worthy performances.Neoga paced area teams in competition, as Derek Williamson and Corey Kersey each qualified for Saturday's state finals in two separate events.Williamson had a full slate of events on the track, running in the 100, 200 and 400-meter dash. After the Neoga senior started slow in the 100, finishing fourth in the first heat and 15th overall, Williamson rebounded with a great race in the 400.Again in the first heat, Williamson made his move around 200 meters, and outlasted Winslow's Tevin Sellers down the stretch, to win his heat with a time of 50.52. The mark would qualify as the seventh best time of the day, assuring his spot in Saturday's finals.Williamson turned in perhaps his gutsiest performance in the 200, after already racing a gauntlet of a schedule, finishing third in the second heat with a time of 22.61. The time was .02 seconds faster than Hales Fanciscan's Joe Morrow to qualify for the ninth and final spot in the 200-meter dash finals.Kersey also had a busy day, participating on the Neoga 4x100-relay squad and in both the long jump and triple jump. Kersey, the state's top sectional qualifier in the triple jump, performed like a man on a mission. He jumped 45 feet, three inches to win the preliminaries and advance to the state finals as the top seed.In the long jump, Kersey leaped 20 feet, eight inches, landing in 10th place overall. The mark was good enough to assure that he, along with Williamson, would have a busy Saturday qualifying in two events.Triple jump success was not limited to Kersey, however, as Windsor's Jacob Pfeiffer also qualified for the finals. Pfeiffer turned in a jump of 42 feet, 1.5 inches to finish 11th. Newton's Brandon Tolliver-Goode was one of 14 competitors to clear the 13-foot mark in the pole vault, securing his spot in Saturday's finals.Jason Fry was solid in the shot put, with his best effort of 58 feet, six inches good enough for an eighth-place showing and a berth in the state finals.The last local qualifier for the final day of the season was Cumberland's Tye Sutherland. Taking on a first team all-state performer in Robinson's Blake Hale, Sutherland raced the favorite neck-and-neck down the last 100 meters of heat one in the 800-meter run. Hale emerged victorious by just 0.74 seconds, but Sutherland's blistering time of 1:58.67 gave him a fifth-place finish to move to the finals.For Teutopolis, Austin McWhorter finished 12th in the pole vault (12-06), Cody Heuerman placed 21st in the triple jump (39-10.25) and Kyle Blievernicht narrowly missed the finals in the 400 with an 11th-place showing (51.27).St. Anthony's Peter Keller and Andrew Gardewine each raced in the 1600-meter run, with Gardewine leading the first heat through the first two laps. But Keller and the rest of the field caught up to Gardewine's pace, as Keller finished sixth in his heat and 17th overall (4:36.09), while Gardewine crossed seventh in his heat and 18th overall (4:37.11).Altamont's Andrew Sharp placed fifteenth in the same event, crossing the finish line with a time of 4:35.21. Jason Becker finished 13th in the 300-meter hurdles with his time of 41.33, while Teutopolis' Riley Drees came in 31st at 43.54. The 4x200 relay team of Justin Hunt, Nick Bierman, Tyler Windell and Cody Heuerman placed 22nd for the Wooden Shoes. Newton's Dylan Davison finished 17th in the triple jump (40-08.25), and the 4x100 relay team of Dylan Johnson, Marcus Pilman, Austin Gowin and Austin Angel placed 11th (44.59). The same relay team finished ninth in the 4x200 at 1:33.24. The Pirates' 4x800 relay team of Ethan Kemper, Charles Ault, Keegan Sutherland and Tye Sutherland ran a time of 9:03.71 to finish 24th. Neoga's 4x100 team of Kersey, Caleb Abernathy, David Abernathy and Williamson placed 14th at 44.68.
Ziegler's choice an easy one
Lake Land College’s Grace Ziegler had a choice after her two years playing were up.
The Altamont alumna basically whittled her options down to this: continue to play basketball collegiately at a four-year institution, or transfer to a four-year institution to have a traditional college student experience.
Vonderheide, W/SS win at Charleston 12-0
Christian Vonderheide had the luxury of choosing which was better.
It was either the grand slam, or a complete game shutout thrown by the right hander.
“They are both pretty equal,” Vonderheide said. “Pitching is more of my thing. The grand slam I got lucky. I swung hard, and I was lucky enough for it to go over the fence."
The win could be more important as Windsor/Stew-Stras pounded a 12-0 win over Charleston at CHS Field.
Czachorski: Time to catch Cup fever
I woke up early Friday morning and did something I never do these days -- I flipped on SportsCenter.
It was the top of the 7 a.m. hour, and unshockingly, ESPN led with discussion of the playoffs.
What left me flabbergasted was they were leading with the NHL playoffs, as I was truly unaware ESPN remembered that hockey was a sport.
Indians' bats too much for Eagles
An 11 a.m. start on Good Friday wasn't too early for Altamont, as the Indians pushed 10 across in the first frame and bested Newton 16-1 in five innings.
Power surge: Homers help Shoes beat Comets 8-4
Teutopolis broke open a close game with four home runs and remained undefeated with an 8-4 win over Stew-Stras/Windsor Thursday afternoon.
Cutts carries Cumberland to 4-3 win
His first three hits were no doubters, but Blayke Cutts’ fourth hit on Thursday was a high bouncer over the glove of Olney third baseman Peyton Billington to win in a walk-off.
McNamee: Questions about EIU's Jimmy G
The typical phrase used in situations like this, I think, is: “He shows potential.” I may not have believed anything I was saying, but at least he was in line to be a four-year starter; at least, he had that.
Pirates push past Flaming Hearts 10-2
It took a bit for the bats to warm up, but Cumberland made the necessary adjustments at the plate and took down Effingham 10-2 Wednesday afternoon.
Newton walks off against Dieterich
For the second straight game, Newton earned a win via the walkoff, this time as Caleb Chesnut drove in the game-winning run with two outs to down Dieterich 5-4.
Walsh, Bulldogs fend off Newton 17-8
Makayla Walsh played the role of starter and stopper.
She relieved St. Anthony pitcher Jenna Woltman, who was struggling to locate her pitches, and stopped the bleeding during a four-run fourth inning.
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