Sycamore’s Hooker looking for more in state finals

CHARLESTON – Sycamore sophomore Dion Hooker said he was content with a ninth-place finish in the 100 meters at last year’s state meet, but coach Pete Piccony could tell that he was disappointed.

“He was mad,” Piccony said at Friday’s Class 2A preliminaries, where Hooker qualified for Saturday’s finals in the 100 and 200. “I said, ‘You’re a freshman.’ That encourages him to come out and do well.”

During Saturday’s finals, ninth place won’t be acceptable.

Hooker finished third overall in the 100 prelims with a personal-best and school-record time of 10.78, and he finished second overall in the 200 meters

“I felt really good,” Hooker said. “I knew coming into it that I was seeded pretty high. I would have been pretty upset if I didn’t compete and do the best I could. I’m happy with my performance so far.”

Hooker ran the fastest sectional time in Class 2A at 21.77, which was better than any run on Thursday. He and 800-meter runner David Emmert were the only Sycamore athletes to qualify for Saturday’s finals, but junior Mark Stice will compete in the 3,200, which has no prelims. Senior Logan Wright did not qualify for finals in the high jump.

“Coming into finals last year at state, I was just happy to be here and wasn’t really expecting anything,” Hooker said. “Since I placed last year, I knew I had to do better than that.”

Williams doesn’t make the cut: Genoa-Kingston senior Gabe Williams came into the meet as the fourth seed in the 200, but he missed qualifying by 0.33 seconds

Williams was the only state qualifier from G-K, and Saturday was his first individual event at a state meet after qualifying in a relay his freshman year. 

“I think I could have done better. I think I did worse than what I should have been. But hey, it’s just one chance,” Williams said. “I get a lot of nerves, because I get in my head at the start, with the kids next to me, I get it in my head that you’re not the only one out there. You’ve got to run better.”

Kucera qualifies in three events: Kaneland junior Nathaniel Kucera qualified for finals in the 4x800, the 400, and the 4x400.

“I’m really tired, but I’m happy with where I’m at, making finals,” Kucera said. “I’m a little tired, but I have enough left to bring us home.”

The 4x800 team, which won its heat with a time of 8:06.45 and finished fourth overall, also included juniors Conor Johnson, Kyle Carter and Luis Acosta. Carter, Johnson and Dylan Nauert ran the 4x400 team with Kucera, finishing first in their heat and fourth overall with a time of 3:23.22.

Other Kaneland qualifiers for Saturday’s finals included Kory Harner in the pole vault, Marshall Farthing in the high jump, Nate Dyer in the shot put, and Tanner Andrews in the triple jump.

Nauert was unable to qualify in the 110 hurdles and the 300 hurdles, Dylan Kuipers failed to make it in the pole vault, and Brandon Cottier and Brandon Bishop both fell short in the 200.

Kucera will be seeded sixth in the 400, which is his first individual event ever at the state meet.

“It’s a little more scary and nerve-racking [in an individual event], but I was fine,” Kucera said. “I came out a little slow in that one, but I made it up at the end. I’m happy to make finals.” 

DeKalb’s Peterson, Bell don’t qualify

The area’s only Class 3A school didn’t put any athletes through from Friday’s preliminaries to Saturday’s finals.

Tyler Peterson knocked over a hurdle and wasn’t able to fully recover in the 110 hurdles, and junior Jonathan Bell couldn’t equal his sectional performance in the discus, missing the cut by just three inches.

“It’s a lot different from any other meet, that’s for sure,” Bell said. “It was a great experience. I didn’t get the outcome I wanted, but it definitely humbled me, and I’m going to work harder and come back next year and do better.”

Senior Marc Dubrick will represent DeKalb on Saturday in the 3,200 meters.