BOURBONNAIS — For most people, track is a spring sport or a summer sport if you are so inclined to watch the Olympics.
But not for the Rantoul Eagle Track Team. For most of the team, the indoor season is 50 percent over as they started during the month of February by competing in the state of Indiana. They competed at the Normal West Invitational, which was held at the Illinois Wesleyan University Shirk Center, and most recently they traveled to Kankakee to compete in the Lincoln Way East Invitational. It was held at the Perry Recreation Center on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University.
The Eagles have three more meets. They will next be at the Armory on the campus of University of Illinois this weekend. For those lucky few, they will find themselves back Shirk Center for the Top Times Meet, which is, for all purposes, the indoor finals. The Top Times Meet will be held on the final weekend of March.
Behind the two individual victories of Jerry Harper, who won the 200-meter dash as well as the 600-meter run, The Eagles finished third in the tightly contested invitational, scoring 71 points. Eureka (77.5 points) and Clifton Central (77 points) were first and second in the meet that featured Class 1A and Class 2A Teams.
Harper, now a senior and college signee, first dashed to the 200-meter title in 23.24 seconds. He returned to run the 600-meter run in 1:27.75.
“I challenged the seniors to go out and compete hard this week,” said Mitch Wilson, the head coach of the Rantoul Eagles. “We did great in Indiana, but not so good during the Normal West Invitational. If felt like they responded well and we had a tremendous meet at ONU’s great facility.”
The Eagles had plenty of back up in the long sprint races or middle distance if you prefer. Robert Buford, a sophomore, not only won the 400-meter dash in :53.06, but was second to Harper in the 200-meter dash. Buford ran a time of :23.78.
In the 400-meter, Tayon Swift was approximately two seconds behind Buford in third place in :55.15.
The dominance was even more prevalent in the 600-meter run, where the Eagles had three athletes which scored points. In addition to Harper’s victory, Gary Lawson and Dahinte Thompson finished sixth and eighth respectively. They finished with respective times of 1:36.24 and 1:38.75.
Jonathan Gossett and Raj Patel picked up the other top five finishes for the Eagles. Gossett finished second in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:49.03. He was only 17/100ths of a second from the winning pace of 4:48.86 posted by Iroquis West’s Connor Price. Patel was fifth in the 3,200-meter run.
“I am excited to run in Champaign the next two weeks,” said Wilson. “It should be a couple of exciting weeks at the Armory. We should see big improvements this weekend at the Centennial Invitational. At our meet (March 14), At our meet, we are going to try and put together a strong lineup and win that meet.”
Keddrick Terhune and the 1,600-meter relay team each finished sixth. Terhune ran a time of :09.24 in the 60-meter hurdles, while the 1,600-meter relay finished in 3:52.87.
Buford took seventh in the long jump with a leap of 5.81 meters as did the 800-meter relay. BJ Hudson recorded a throw of 11.94 meters in the shot put, which was good for eighth. Lance Cloninger (11:57.75) and Aiden Pacunas were ninth and 10th respectively in the 3,200-meter run.