CHARLESTON | The Illinois High School Association Class 3A gold medal in the long jump can't be hung around Bloom Township long jumper William Williams neck quite yet.
But at this time tomorrow, Williams could be a state champion.
Friday, at the IHSA Class 3A preliminaries at O'Brien stadium at Eastern Illinois University, he recorded a leap of 23 feet, 8 inches, which is 11 inches better than his sectional leap of 22-9. Matthew Harris, a Lyons Township senior, recorded a jump of 23-5 3/4.
"I wish I would have gone out for track as a freshman," Williams said. "I was not competing against other athletes, I was trying to jump through the fence, which was located beyond the pit. I just mentally pictured jumping through the fence. It helps me a great deal."
The field is senior laden and includes Thornwood's Donte Briggs, who recorded a jump of 23-0 1/2. He recorded the seventh best jump of the day.
"I want to make a big jump tomorrow (Saturday)," said Briggs. "I hope I can jump 24-2 or 24-3. Today, that was my best jump ever. But, I know my landing and my penultimate step can be better."
In Class 2A, Thornridge's Yemi Ogumbumeru qualified in both the 110-meter high and 300 intermediate hurdles. He has the third fastest time in the 110s (:14.65), and the ninth-fastest time in the 300s (:39.86).
"I am happy to get in the finals in both events, but I was not happy with my time in the 300's at all," said Ogunbumeru. "I got hit pretty hard by the wind."
Besides Williams and Briggs there were a total of seven other athletes and two relay teams who will battle it out in Class 3A.
T.F. North's Marvel Thompson not only earned a spot in the 400-meter finals in which he ranks third, he also has earned a spot in the 200-meter dash finals. He recorded a time of 49.31 seconds in the 400-meter dash. In the 200-meter dash, he grabbed the ninth and final qualifying spot.
"I am happy with the 400-meter victory, but that time has to get better," Thompson said. "I had to make up for the first 200. I did not run like I should have run. I am not thinking about the time, I am thinking about winning. Whatever is needed to win, that is what I want."
Homewood-Flossmoor 800-meter runner Matt Anyiwo won the first heat, dashing to the finish line in 1:5353.92 seconds. It was the fastest time of his career.
"That was my best time by four seconds," said Anyiwo, who recorded the fifth fastest time of the day. Everyone is going for the win, but I would love to be in the top three."
Thornton's Tifonte Hunt not only competed in the 110 hurdles, where his prelim time of :14.42 is the third fastest, he also anchored the Thornton 400-meter relay team to the sixth fastest time of the day. They finished in :42.44. The other members of the Thornton 400-meter relay included Cavion Clanton, Jauan Wesley and Maurice Buchanan.
"I had a great start and a good finish, I just have to work on the middle," said Hunt of the 110-meter hurdles. "I faded a little bit there."
Wesley, Bloom's Micah Frazier, T.,F. North's Nikita Smith and Bloom Township's 400-meter relay team all advanced. Wesley finished the 100-meter dash in :10.74, which was the fourth fastest 100-meter time of the day in Class 3A. Frazier finished eighth in the 200 prelims (:22.17). Smith, junior, finished the 110-meter hurdles in :14.63.
The Bloom Township 400 relay team, of which Frazier is a member, finished in :42.53. The team of Johah Wiley, Frazier, Daylen Hubbard and James Harriel finished with the eighth fastest time of the day.
In Class 2A, there are plenty of athletes that will be chasing gold besides Ogumbumeru. The Falcons' Phillip Thompson and Rashad Barber both qualified in the triple jump. Thompson finished with a leap of 46-0, which was the third-best effort of the day, while Barber finished with a 43-8 3/4, the seventh-best leap of the day. In the 400-meter relay, Ogunbameru joined forces with Kevonte Fox, Deonta Moses and Nicholas Fizer to finish in :43.45. The Thornridge foursome recorded the seventh fastest time of the day.
Illiana Christian got not only its 3,200-meter relay through the IHSA Class 2A prelims, but 1,600-meter runner Tony Wondaal as well. Tony Wondaal qualified with a time of 4:24.92. Illiana Christian's 3,200 relay team is comprised of Kevin Vroegh, Jordan Decker, Nick Fiene and Nick Wondaal. They ran an 8:06.59, which was the fifth-best Class 2A time of the day.