ROCKTON - Relay teams often fluctuate throughout a track and field season as athletes jockey for position among the team's speedsters.
This hasn't been the case for the IHSA Class 3A state-qualifying 4x800 Hononegah team.
The foursome of sophomore Nathan Halbrader and seniors Keith Kline, Andrew Wilson and Braden Meyers have been together since the indoor season.
"At the Prep Top Times meet, which is basically the indoor state meet, these guys finished sixth," Hononegah coach Mark McClarty said. "They have been the core all season. It takes a unique athlete to run this race. You have to have the speed of a 400 runner, and the endurance of a 1600 runner. It's a tough event."
There could be a change for the first time all season. Halbrader is day-to-day with a leg injury, and freshman Phil Winkelman is set to step in if needed.
"Phil ran a huge PR of 2:02 at the sectional meet, and he's just as fast as Nate is," McClarty said. "So if that's the direction we have to go, we still feel good about that."
Wilson is rounding into form at the perfect time, having run a 1:57 split at the sectional meet, where Hononegah finished easily in second place.
"Wilson had a huge leg for us there," McClarty said. "We entered his leg in third place, and by the time he was done we were solidly in second place. He kind of sealed it for us."
Meyers ran a 1:59 as the team's anchor, and Halbrader and Kline were solid as well.
If the team is looking for a blueprint for success this weekend in Charleston, they need look no farther than their own girls 4x800 team.
That squad set its school record to qualify for the finals before placing 11th in the state.
"They set the school record, and that's probably what we're going to need to do to get to the finals also," McClarty said. "And that's a realistic goal for this group. We've run in just awful weather all spring, and we ran an 8:04 earlier, and I really don't think we've run our best time yet. The school record is 7:56. So if Andrew runs his 1:57 and Braden hits his 1:59 and the other guys are around two minutes, that would do it. The hard thing about relays when you get to this level is you have to gave all four guys going on the same day. That's what happened with the girls to get to the finals, and that's what we need too."
Hononegah will race on Friday afternoon.
. CLASS 2A: Andrew Hutchinson leads a contingent of North Boone athletes into the IHSA Class 2A state meet.
Hutchinson won both the 800 meter run and 400 meter dash at the Woodstock North sectional with times of 2:00.57 & 51.41, and anchored the state-qualifying 4x400 meter relay team, where he is joined by Logan Shaddick, Mason Dunn, and Tanner Meyers.