By BRADEN LAYER
---- — 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.
IHSA Boys Track and Field Preliminaries
Local ResultsLong Jump-1.Landon (Chester)*-22-01.75. 10. Kersey (Neoga)*-20-08.00. 21. Hunt (Teutopolis)-19-08.50.Pole Vault-1. Tolliver-Goode (Newton)*-13-00. 12. McWhorter (Teutopolis)-12-06. High Jump-1. Woodside (Oneida)*-6-03. 13. Ebeling (Newton)-5-11.Shot Put-1. Pearce (Villa Grove)*-58-06.75. 8. Fry (Stew-Stras)*-48-06.Triple Jump-1. Kersey (Neoga)*-45-03. 11. Pfeiffer (Windsor)*-42-01.50. 17. Davidson (Newton)-40-08.25. 21. Heuerman (Teutopolis)-39-10.25.Discus-1. Pearce (Villa Grove)*-162-01. 4x800 Relay-1. St. Thomas More*-8:09.70. 24. Cumberland-9:03.71 (Kemper, Ault, K. Sutherland, T. Sutherland).4x100 Relay-1. Eureka*-43.43. 11. Newton-44.59 (Johnson, Pilman, Gowin, Angel). 14. Neoga-44.68 (Kersey, C. Abernathy, D. Abernathy, Williamson).110-Meter Hurdles-1. Britton (Leo)*-14.61. 100-Meter Dash-1. Hunter (Roseville)*-10.92. 15. Williamson (Neoga)-11.23.800-Meter Run-1. Brown (Carmi White County)*-1:57.32. 5. Sutherland (Cumberland)*-1:58.67. 4x200 Relay-1. Newman Central Catholic*-1:29.91. 9. Newton-1:33.24. (Johnson, Pilman, Gowin, Angel). 22. Teutopolis-1:37.84 (Hunt, Bierman, Windell, Heuerman).400-Meter Dash-1. Hunter (Roseville)*-48.97. 7. Williamson (Neoga)*-50.52. 11. Blievernicht (Teutopolis)-51.27.300-Meter Hurdles-1. Bliven (Wesclin)*-40.03. 13. Becker (Stew-Stras)-41.33. 31. Drees (Teutopolis)-43.54.1600-Meter Run-1. Nykaza (Beecher)*-4:23.45. 15. Sharp (Altamont)-4:35.21. 17. Keller (St. Anthony)-4:36.09. 18. Gardewine (St. Anthony)-4:37.11.200-Meter Dash-1. Roby (Lutheran)*-21.86. 9. Williamson (Neoga)*-22.61. 28. Doty (Cowden-Herrick)-23.74.4x400-Relay-1. Lena Winslow*-3:27.73. 10. Newton-3:32.25 (Stone, C. Davidson, Angel, Johnson).
*-Qualified for Saturday's state finals