By Mark Gregory
CHARLESTON – Last weekend’s boys state track and field finals at O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University was plagued by ominous clouds, a two hour lightning delay and a downpour within minutes of the conclusion of the meet.
That didn’t damper the performances of several local athletes.
A pair of competitors, Minooka senior Peter Andreano and Lockport junior Derrius Rodgers left the stadium with a pair of medals around their neck.
Andreano led the way for the area, placing second in the Class 3A high jump with a leap of 6-feet, 8-inches.
“It was a good day,” Andreano said. “Last year, I qualified for long jump and high jump, but I didn’t make finals. This year, I think I balanced them both pretty well. In high jump, I wanted to win, I just couldn’t get 6-9. On my 6-8 jump, I know there was a lot of height on that, so there is room there.”
With the poor weather conditions, the high jump was moved into the field house after a two hour lightning delay.
“I actually jumping indoor more,” he said. “I guess I am used to it because I played basketball.”
This was Andreano’s fourth trip to the finals, but his first two medals.
“I have competed here since I was a freshman, but these are my first medals,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier closing out my senior year with medals.”
Rodgers also earned a pair of medals, as he placed sixth in the 100-meter dash (10.78) and ninth in the 200 (22.07).
“This is a good feeling,” Rodgers said. “This was my first time here and I didn’t know what to expect. I got all the jitters out yesterday. I am excited to be back here next year, we are moving in the right direction.”
Minooka junior Justin Wolz was eighth in the 300 intermediate hurdles with a time of 39.48.
Wolz also qualified for state in the 110 high hurdles, but was injured in the prelims and could not finish the race. He wasn’t sure if he would compete the rest of the meet, but he qualified and medaled in the 300s after the injury.
“In my prelim heat, coming over the fourth hurdle, I over stretched my hip coming down and I wasn’t able to finish. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to run,” Wolz said. “I iced it down and it was uncomfortable, but it is not an excuse I am going to use for my race today.This wasn’t what I wanted, but being a junior, it motivates me for next year.”
Also earning a medal was Lockport freshman John Meyer, who placed ninth in the discus with a throw of 164-01.
There were two local runners that competed in the first heat of the 3200 run on Saturday.
Minooka sophomore Soren Knudsen placed 20th out of the 45 runner field, finishing in 9:32.63.
Joliet Central junior Raul Rosendo was 32nd in the same race, running it in 9:45.84.
“It was a good race overall,” Rosendo said. “What killed me the most mentally was being in that scond alley and starting behind everyone else, but I just had to stay strong and try my best.”
Rosendo said he was proud to come out and wear the Steelmen blue and gold at the state meet.
“I thought about that this morning,” he said. “It was amazing that I am one of the only state qualifiers from my team.”
He knows it will have him ready for next year.
“I haven’t been in a race with this loaded competition,” he said. “This is a good race and it is a big learning experience for me.”
A pair of local pole vaulters competed at the state meet but didn’t advance to the finals, as both Minooka senior Ryan Pullara and Lockport junior Wade Walder cleared 13-feet.
Three shot putters also fell just shy of the finals. Minooka junior Kevin Lam had a put of 51-11.25, while the Lockport duo of senior Charlie Robbins and junior Matt Chmielewski went 51-0 and 50-07, respectively.
In the 800 run, Joliet Central senior Jesse Brady ran a 1:59.91, but did not advance. Lockport senior Ryan Brock (39.89) had the same fate in the 300 hurdles.
Minooka and Lockport each had multiple relay events compete at the state meet.
For the Indians, the quartet of Mitch Miller, Victor Turpin, Maceo Findlay and Chris Hopkins ran a 43.01 in the 400 relay.
Miller, Turpin and Findlay teamed with Brandon Adams in the 800 relay and posted a 1:28.19.
In the 1600 relay, 1600 relay, Miller and Turpin again ran, this time with Wolz and Mike Malinowski, where they had a time of 3:21.38.
For the Porters, the team of Chris Gargano, Rodgers, Sheldon Snapp and Jake Porter ran a 43.10 in the prelims of the 400 relay and posted a 1:29.06 in the 800 relay.