by Mike Slodki
STERLINGâ€”Kaneland boys track isn’t just getting hot at the right time, it’s smokin’.
With 126 total points and 11 State qualifying events coming out of Friday’s Class 2A Sterling Sectional, Kaneland beat its closest competitor, DeKalb, by 57 points.
Burlington Central finished third with 58 points, followed by Yorkville at 55 and Rochelle at 52.
The Knightsâ€™ 11 events was the most since 1998, in which Kaneland qualified in 12 events.
Coach Eric Baron’s crew now gears up for a trip to the Class 2A State finals in Charleston, Ill. at Eastern Illinois University.
Kaneland’s entry in the 4x800m relay (Dominic Furco, Sean Paulick, Joe Levita, Trevor Holm) earned sectional champ honors with a time of 8 minutes, 6.99 seconds, beating BC by 1.73 seconds.
In other relay action, the 4x100m relay squad (Andrew Essex, Brandon Cottier, Taylor Andrews, Tommy Whittaker) finished second with a time of 43.57 seconds, just .19 behind DeKalb.
In 110 meter high hurdles action, the tandem of Taylor Andrews and Logan Markuson pushed each other to higher levels all season, and it was no different in Sterling as the two Knights finished in the top two spots. Andrews finished first at 14.54 seconds, while Markuson took second at 14.74.
With a second-place nod in the 100 meter dash, Whittaker’s 11.17 was good enough to send him packing to EIU.
Kaneland will send two competitors to State in the 800m run, as stalwarts Edgar Valle (1:58.27) and Derek Bus (1:59.04) took the top two spots in the event.
KHS also sends the unit that participated in the 4x200m relay (Essex, Cottier, Curtis Secrest, Whittaker) to State, as it finished third with a qualifying time of 1:31.82.
â€œWe have underclassmen in both the 100 and 200 (relay); thatâ€™s impressive,â€ Baron said. â€œReally, the guy who got the ball rolling for us was Whittaker. He had a huge night in the 100 and won his heat in the prelims, and once he did that it kind of carried over to the rest of the team.â€
Markuson came back to take the sectional champ crown in the 300m low hurdles, running in 39.62, and will be joined by teammate Andrews (second place, 40.68 seconds).
The Knight foursome that ran the 4x400m relay (Whittaker, Bus, Valle, Markuson) finished first with a time of 3:23.01, beating out BC by 3.71.
Markuson qualified for a third event with a second-place pole vault effort of 13 feet, 3 inches, continuing Kaneland’s long standing tradition of sending pole vaulters to the big meet annually since 1983.
â€œWeâ€™ve had great coaching,â€ Baron said. â€œKaneland is about pole vaulting, and Andy Drendel came in this year. He and Logan felt a great deal of pressure. Logan stepped up when it mattered in his last attempt.â€
Nick Sinon returns to Charleston, based on his second-place high jump at 6-07.
Matt Spitzzeri makes it to State for the first time by capturing fourth in the triple jump at 43-07.
The State finals are Friday, May 28, and Saturday, May 29.