CHARLESTON – Woodstock senior Tyler Parsons experienced being close enough to touch the state finals once before, and he did not care to feel that way again.
Parsons returned more determined to finish his high school career at the IHSA Boys Track and Field State Meet on the medals stand in the Class 2A 110-meter high hurdles, which now will happen.
Parsons qualified in 15.16 seconds, the eighth-fastest time from Friday’s preliminary heats at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium, giving him one more race in Saturday’s finals.
Richmond-Burton’s James Kaht (1,600 meters) and the Rockets’ 4x800 relay team of Ryan Garrett, Michael Bland, D.J. Wolfram and Greg Arther were the other local qualifiers in Class 2A.
“There was definitely a lot of pressure,” Parsons said. “If I didn’t make the finals, I would have been upset.”
Parsons ran 15.27 last year, which was 11th in qualifying for the nine finals’ spots.
“I definitely ran my cleanest race of all year,” said Parsons, who won the Fox Valley Conference title and will run at NCAA Division III Carthage College. “I don’t think I touched one hurdle.”
R-B’s 4x800 team lopped 18 seconds off its best time at the Vernon Hills Sectional last week and qualified in 8:12.43, the ninth-fastest time in the 12-team finals’ field.
“We had a tough [Big Northern Conference] race in 8:28, but we had a good week of training after that [before sectional],” Wolfram said. “Mike [Bland] and I, as the seniors, got everyone together and said, ‘If it’s going to happen, it has to happen now.’ And now we’re running in the finals.”
R-B’s 4x800 runners all were part of the cross country team that finished fifth in Class 2A at the IHSA Cross Country State Meet. Kaht earned All-State honors with a 19th-place finish in cross country.
“It’s awesome in our senior year to make it to state in both,” Bland said. “This is the best group of guys to run with. This really proves what we’ve accomplished this year.”