A strong performance from Robinson High School's boys' track team netted the Maroons berths in the finals of three events and good chance to score some points Saturday after Thursday's preliminary round of the Class 1A Track & Field State Finals in Charleston.
"Overall, I think we had a very good day," RHS head coach Tony Cork said.
Robinson had great efforts from virtually everyone that competed Thursday, but only three performances were good enough to make the final round on Saturday.
Senior Blake Hale cruised to a win in his heat of the 800 to qualify for the finals, as he posted a winning time of 1:57.93. That time has him fourth among the 12 qualifiers for Saturday's finals, but he was just over six-tenths of a second behind the top finisher - Carmi's Michael Brown (1:57.32).
"Blake ran his heat of the 800 to win and advance and he did just that," Cork said. "Although there are three times slightly faster than his, I think he ran more under control than the other three and I know he can go faster on Saturday."
Fellow senior Nic Iovanac also fared well in the shot put, as he posted the fourth-best throw of the day with a distance of 50-9.75 to advance to Saturday's final round.
"Nic advanced in the shot and I believe he will be more relaxed Saturday and improve on his performance," Cork said.
The last qualifier for the Maroons came in the last event of the day, as the 1600 relay team of Aaron Siler, Austin Weck, Alex Schulte and Hale finished second in their heat and sixth overall with a time of 3:28.90 to advance to Saturday's finals.
"The 4 x 400 relay ran their best time of the year despite the strong wind that kicked up at the end of the meet," Cork said. "The 4 x 400 relay ought to be very interesting on Saturday, since the top eight teams are separated by about 1.5 seconds."
Another pair of Maroons - junior Michael Akande and freshman Garrett Blagrave - had strong performances, but came up short.
Akande ran his fastest time of the season with a 15.66 in the 110 hurdles, but was fifth in his heat and 12th overall and only the nine-fastest times advanced.
Meanwhile, Blagrave shaved a half-second off of his career-best time, as he ran an 11.55 in the 100, but he still finished eighth in his heat and 28th out of 29 runners in the field.
"Michael and Garrett each had their career best performances," Cork said. "Michael was so close to advancing, missing by .5 of a second."
Weck also competed in the long jump, with his best distance out of three jumps being 19-9. However, he finished seventh in his flight and 20th overall out of 31 competitors.
"Austin's jump in the long jump was also his second best performance of the year," Cork said.
In the 3200 relay, the RHS squad of J.B. Chapman, Blake Hale, Tyler Thompson and Noah Tennison posted a time of 8:41.12 to finish fifth in their heat and just 17th overall out of 28 teams.
"The 4 x 800 relay did not advance, but the three underclassmen all had their second best times of the year," Cork said.
Despite mostly overcast skies throughout the day, the weather did not play much of a factor - except during the discus competition.
Both Iovanac and Jesse Richart struggled with the elements and failed to advance. Iovanac's best throw was 139-3, which placed him sixth in his flight and 14th overall, but only the top 12 advanced. Richart's best effort was 137-4, which put him eighth in his flight and 19th overall.
"The weather held off pretty well for most of the meet, but we had a downpour and the wind really picked up toward the end of the prelims," Cork said. "The weather change hit right when the flight of the discus that Jesse and Nic were in were warming up. I know they both changed shoes and did their best to adjust, but the weather change affected their performances. They both narrowly missed advancing to the finals."
Richart also competed in the shot put, but his best throw was 45-1.75, which put him fourth in his flight and 19th out of 28 competitors.