Rantoul boy track team's Swift, Cunningham, Harper, Buford and Hall set school records

On Saturday, two new indoor school records were set by the Rantoul boys track team.

More might fall in the next two weeks, or maybe three weeks if you are fortunate enough to be included in the upcoming Top Times Meet, which will only invite you if you have one of the top 16 times in the state.

The 800-meter relay team of Tayon Swift, Kayon Cunningham, Dillion Harper and Robet Buford finished second overall in the Class A event, dashing to the finish line in 1 minute, 34.89 seconds. The old school record was set in 2018 and was 1:35.14.

“I knew we would run faster when we pout Tayon on the varsity relay,” said Mitch Wilson, Rantoul’s head coach. “But, I was shocked it was almost three seconds faster. We had some good handoffs and those guys competed hard.”

Cunningham and Dillion Harper were members of the record setting relay one year ago. This time Cunningham had the fastest split, running his 200-meter portion in :23.2.

“I knew we would do well, but not this well,” said Cunningham, who was the only Eagle athlete that had not run an event prior to the 800-meter relay. “I just wanted to make sure that I maneuvered correctly. I feel that we can run an even faster than this. There were some good teams in this that helped us run well, like Plainfield North and Danville.”

While they topped that school record barely, Elijah Hall became the school record holder in the 1,600-meter run by almost three seconds, breaking a 13-year old record held by Connor Millar. Millar ran a time of 4:49 in 2:006. Hall finished in seventh place on Saturday in the Class A race, which pits the best against the best, dashing to the finish line in 4:46.26.

“I feel good about where I stand right now,” said Hall. “I am concentrating on different events next week, but will probably run the 1,600-meter again in two weeks at Eastern Illinois. I wanted to go out agressive today. I was in the low 4:40’s by the end of the year last year, so I feel like I will be better than that this year.”

Jerry Harper also competed in the Class A 800-meter run, taking second overall. The junior finished the race in 2:04.57. His time is the third fastest indoor 800-meter of all time at RTHS.

“I was getting bumped and pushed around out there,” said Jerry Harper. “I could not give all the effort that I wanted to at times, but I am happy with my time. I just have to learn from this experience. I think some of the sprint races I have been running have helped me get a better start.”

They were the only ones to compete and place in Class A, but not the only ones to compete or hit the indoor leaderboard.

In Class B, Luke Zech ran a time of z:09.89 in the 60-meter hurdles to hit the RTHS Leaderboard at fifth. Lance Cloniger did the same in the 3,200-meter run. Cloninger ran a time of 12:58.89 in Class B to grab the fifth spot on the leaderboard. Jonathan Gossett, who ran in the Class B 800-meter run, finished sixth overall with a time of 2:10.41.

Cody Schlueter, Keddrick Terhune, Buford, Kishawn Donald and Gary Lawson all competed in the Class C races. Schlueter took sixth in the shot put with a toss of 36 feet, 7.25 inches, while Donald was third in the long jump with a leap of 18-9.

Terhune posted the fourth best indoor time in Eagle history with a :09.66. In the 60-meter dash, Buford finished with a :07.33, which is fourth on the indoor leaderboard. Lawson finished ffith in the 400-meter dash, recording a time of :55.86.

The girls competed after the boys teams and like the Eagle boys, the girls had plenty to celebrate.

That celebration has to start with Mye’joi Williams, who not only won the shot put, but did it every convincingly. The junior posted a throw of 41-5.75, which was victorious by over a foot. The second place finisher was Unity’s Aliyah McDaniel, who finished with a put of 40-2.5.

“Mye’joi is an advanced thrower and is starting to work on specific details of the shot put,” said Ben Hankes, the Rantoul girl’s coach. “Right now we just want her to get in as many reps as she can. The more reps the better.”

Williams was not alone in victory in the field. Fellow field athlete Tanaya Young won the long jump, leaping 17-1.50. Like Williams, her victory was nothing if not convincing. She won by over seven inches as Homewood-Flossmoor jumper Jasmyn Hunter finished second with leap of 16-5.25.

“Tanya can work on trusting her approach,” said Hankes. “It is challenging to get quality approach work when you do not have an indoor facility. She did a great job of adjusting on the fly at the meet.”

Lovenya Perry was the other Rantoul Lady Eagle that finished in the top five. Perry was less than one second from victory in the 800-meter, dashing to a second place finish in 2:26.02. Dunlap’s Macy Priess won the race in 2:25.42.

“Lovenya’s time is the best ever 800-meter time at RTHS, indoor or outdoor,” said Hankes. “We are very excited for her future in this event.”

The 1,600-meter relay and the 800-meter relay were both fifth place overall. The 1,600-meter relay joined the forces of India Emery, Shanyla Strawder, Alicia Boatright and Young to finish in 4:26.68. Earlier in the meet, Strawder and Young joined forces with India Emery and Alicia Boatright to finish in 1:53.66.

Montyiona Walker took eighth in the high jump with a leap of 4-4. Amonica Anderson was also in the top 15 in her event, finishing 14th in the 400-meter dash with a time of 1:13.88.

“The First to the Finish Charger Invitational was a great meet with great Eagle efforts,” said Hankes. “Nearly every girl set a personal best or is faster at this point of the season than they were last year.”

The Rantoul Eagles and Lady Eagles will host the Rantoul Invitational on Saturday. The meet starts at 10 a.m. at University of Illinois Armory, located at 505 East Armory Avenue in Champaign. It is at the corner of Armory and Fourth Avenue.

sports@rantoulpress.com

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