Two indoor track meets down, four meets to go.
The Rantoul boys track team competed in its second indoor meet of the year, the Normal West hosted Wildcat Invitational, which was held at Illinois Wesleyan University.
The numbers could also be the number of indoor records that will fall before the end of the indoor season, which will take place, ironically, at Illinois Wesleyan University.
"I am shocked at how well our freshmen and sophomores are doing this early in the year," said Mitch Wilson, Rantoul's head track coach. "They are showing so much promise. We had big years, even during the indoor seasons, in 2015 and 2017. The next few weeks will tell us so much. We have two meets at the University of Illinois Armory and one at Eastern Illinois University before the Top Times Meet. We will know more by then."
Two individuals, namely Elijah Hall and Jonathan Gossett, were in the top three in their respective events. The pair of athletes ran cross country during the fall months. In the 800-meter run, Hall finished in 2 minutes, 5.94 seconds. Hall was fifth overall. The senior is in familiar company on the leaderboard. The indoor record stands at 2:01.59 run by Hall's former teammate Raul Castillo in 2017. Eduardo Lopez (2:03.76) and Jared Motley (2:10.35) are second and fourth on the list and also former teammates of Hall. Gossett did not place, but ran a time of 11:04.83 in the 3,200-meter run. The indoor record of 10:24.74 is held by Hall, who ran the time as a sophomore.
"That was Jonathan's best indoor time by 11 seconds," said Wilson. "Elijah has gotten much stronger by hitting the weight room hard in the last year and it shows. He keeps dropping his times, not only in the 800, but the 400 as well. You can't ask for much more than that."
His performance in the 800-meter run, plus his split of 53.8 seconds in the 1,600-meter relay earned Hall, the distinction of being the Rantoul Township High School Track and Field Athlete of the Meet. The 1,600-meter relay finished seventh overall, with the fourth best indoor time in the history of Rantoul, running a 3:38.34. The team was comprised of Kayon Cunningham, Hall, Dillon Harper and Jerry Harper.
"Three of the athletes ran very well," said Wilson. "One of the runners got tangled up and that made him a bit nervous. We have some competition for that fourth spot. I think with the tools we have, we should be able to set a new indoor record in the 1,600-meter relay. We should be able to set a new one in the 3,200-meter relay as well."
The record in the 1,600-meter relay was set in 2017 and stands at 3:32.89. Both Harper and Cunningham were members of that record setting team. The other athlete that hit the top five in his event at Rantoul was Robert Buford. Buford's leap of 19 feet, 11.5 inches landed him fifth all time at RTHS. He was sixth overall at the Wildcat Invitational.
"Any coach would love how competitive Robert is," said Wilson. "He wants to accomplish his goals now, not next year. He is the youngest of brothers that has run track for our team. He had a good day. His older brother is right above him on the long jump list and he wants to pass him up this year."
Jerry Harper dashed to a third place finish in the 400-meter dash, breaking the tape at :52.22. The other placing individual was Tayon Swift, who was eighth in the 200-meter dash, finishing in :24.17.
The 800-meter relay team took sixth overall, as Dillion Harper, Treven Lewis, Cunningham and Buford combined forces to run a time of 1:37.37.