CHARLESTON | Two locals brought home gold Saturday from the IHSA boys track meet at Eastern Illinois.
Crete-Monee's Rashad Hulbert repeated as the Class 3A 300 meter intermediate hurdles champion and Beecher's Grant Nykaza won the Class 1A 1,600 meters.
Hulbert and Rock Island junior Derrick Willies dueled it out in the 300 hurdles and the race lived up to its hype.
Hulbert finished in 36.91 seconds. He just missed tying the 1999 record mark set by Wheaton Warrenville South's Jon Schweighardt by only 14 hundredths.
"I like the 300-meter hurdles a little better than 110-meter hurdles, Hulbert said, "because if you make a mistake you have a chance to make up for it."
Willies finished second in 37.75.
In the shorter hurdle race, Willies got the better of Hulbert, but he needed a clock to measure the thousandths of a second to do it. Hulbert and Willis both checked in at 14.2 on the finals sheets, but the O'Brien Stadium clock gave Willies the win at 14.013, while Hulbert finished in 14.014.
Hulbert's 18 individual points gave Crete Monee a great start in the team scoring. They would get four more points in the 1,600-meter relay, finishing fifth in 3:21.71. Hulbert was the leadoff leg in the relay, which otherwise contained underclassmen. The relay was comprised of Taris Simmons, Marcus Terrell and Whittler along with Hulbert.
Crete Monee finished 10th overall with 22 points.
Nykaza won the 1,600 in 4 minutes, 18.34 seconds. The Beecher junior saved his energy by not doubling up and running the 3,200 meters. Monticello senior Steve Schroeder, who finished second in the 1,600, won the 3,200 earlier in the day.
"Everyone tried to tell me that he would be exhausted," Nykaza said. "But this is the state championships and he is very tough. Next year, I am going to double. I did not double this year, because I decided I need a strong performance at sectional to boost my confidence. I was tired after the second lap, but there was no way I was giving up. Neither was he."
Bloom Township's 1,600 relay team entered Saturday's state finals with the best time in the sectionals. Their 3:17.47 run in Friday's prelims would have won the 3A state title, in the sweltering heat the foursome of James Harriel, Justin Banks, Kaleb Williams and Micah Frasier finished in 3:18.70 to take third. The top time of the day was run by Belleville West, who finished in 3:17.99.
"We knew this would be an extremely tough race," said Frasier, the anchor. "When I got the baton, I was a little bit behind. I just decided to run as hard as I could and let the chips fall where they may. I wish we could see some of the southern teams, like Belleville West, during the regular season. I don't know what the future holds, but I want to come back next year."
Also, Thornton's Jonathon Anderson was eighth in the 110 hurdles (18.16).