FLOSSMOOR | "Another ticket!" one of Tifonte Hunt's teammates said to him after the Thornton Township senior qualified for the state 300-meter hurdles in Class 3A Thursday night.
Hunt smiled, but admitted that his primary emotion was not jubilation, but relief. His strategy in the 300 almost tripped him up.
"I started out kinda slow, so everybody was in front of me," Hunt said. "I picked it up (at the head of the stretch) and took second behind Providence's Andrew Helmin. "Now I know I've got to come out fast. I'll be ready next week.
"I knew the guy from Providence was going to be good, because he got me last time. I was just trying to follow him."
But at the turn of the 300 in the sectional hosted by Homewood-Flossmoor, Hunt found he was about sixth. That would not do.
"I kicked a little bit, but I should have kicked earlier," Hunt said.
The kick he did put on overhauled all but Helmin, whom he also trailed in the 110 hurdles, and gave him a third ticket to next week's finals in Charleston. The 400-meter relay quartet he's a part of had qualified early in the night.
T.F. North senior Marvell Thompson was the night's other double winner from the area. He captured the 400 in 49.49 seconds, grabbed the 200 in 21.97, plus was part of the second-place 1,600-meter relay team.
"I tried to slow down (midway through) the 400, but I didn't slow down," Thompson said. "I just ran it all strong. My coach said to forget about the other races."
Lincoln-Way Central won the meet, aided by a 1-2 finish in the 1,600.
Thornwood senior Patrick Bolton will head downstate eyeing improvement in his high jump performance of last year, when he faded in the finals. Hitting 6-foot-5 on Thursday got him second place in the sectional and guaranteed a return to the 3A carnival.
"I was disappointed the second day (last year)," Bolton said. "This is another chance to get better. Sort of redemption, too. This comes down to technique. The height will be there, but technique is key."
Fellow senior Kenneth Allen, a state favorite in the 400, suffered a left leg injury at the worst possible time, 30 meters into the 100-meter final, and gamely took fifth in the 400 after starting standing up, but was forced to scratch from the 200 and the 1,600-meter relay.
"I don't know what happened," Allen said before coach Brian Evans pulled him away from reporters.
Bloom Township stitched together enough results to take second as a team. Blazing Trojans William Williams (22-9) and Johan Wiley (22-8.5) finished 1-2 in the long jump, while Thornwood's Donte Briggs took third in the long jump with a state-qualifying mark of 22 feet, 6.25 inches, and won the triple jump in 44-9.5.
Crete-Monee and Bloom also qualified teams in the 400-meter relay.
Homewood-Flossmoor won the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays, with senior Matt Anyiwo taking second and qualifying in the individual 800 (1:56.95).
Providence's Chad Weaver provided the highlight of the field events with a vault of 16 feet in the pole vault, six inches better than his previous best. Weaver easily met the qualifying standard of 13-3, then cleared 13-9, 15 feet, 15-8 and 16 feet.