ROCHELLE – Clayton Hannula transformed from nervous sophomore last year to sectional champion this year for Kaneland as it took second place at the IHSA Class 2A Boys Rochelle Sectional meet Thursday.
Hannula continued his dominance by out-hurling the field in the discus and the shot put after winning both in the conference meet last week.
“I’m a little bit more mentally prepared,” Hannula said. I’m not as nervous as I was last year. Last year I was shaking as I was getting into the ring, but now I feel like I’m on top of the world because I’m going in with good marks.”
Hannula won the discus with a distance of 167 feet, 5 inches, and the shot put with a distance of 56-2.
“Clayton is just a rock,” Kaneland head coach Andy Drendel said. “He expects it out of himself. So pretty much all I have to do is make sure he is on the bus and has his shots and his discs.”
Hannula will have another chance to battle Sycamore’s Connor Weckerly, who finished second in the discus with 165-5 and third in shot put with 51-9. Both qualified for the Class 2A State Tournament next week in Charleston.
“I got to face Clayton a lot this year,” Weckerly said. “It was nice seeing him there a lot at the competitions to have someone to push you.”
Kaneland qualified athletes in nine events, while Sycamore qualified in six events.
The Spartans finished sixth at the meet.
After Hannula finished his events, he ran over to cheer on teammate Matt Richtman, who took second in the 3,200-meter run with a time of
9 minutes, 32 seconds, and second in the 1,600 with 4:24 and qualified for the state meet in both events.
“Matt Richtman is a man,” Drendel said. “He ran like a man tonight. When Matt Richtman is on the track racing all the kids get pumped up. He’s going to do something special.”
Sycamore’s Stephen Poorten also qualified for the state meet in the 3,200 with a 9:39 and also will compete with the 3,200 relay team who took third in 8:01.
Kaneland’s Danny Walker drew a crowd as the last man standing in the pole vault, finishing with a height of
15 feet, 3 inches, to take home the sectional championship.
“Once you get on the runway, just vaulting with everybody, the crowd, seeing your teammates run on the track,” Walker said. “The whole experience is just awesome.”
Teammate Jack O’Sullivan also squeaked into the state tournament, making the qualifying height of 13-1 and getting fourth place.
Sycamore runner Evan Jacobs pulled away from the field to take home the sectional championship in the 800 with 1:59. He’ll also
be racing with Stephen Poorten in the 3,200 relay team.
“I was going as fast I as I could,” Jacobs said. “I wasn’t really thinking. I was kind of just in the zone just trying to keep my pace going.”
Genoa-Kingston failed to qualify any athletes and finished 13th, but long jumper Jake Hansen had a person best of 20.5 and took fifth.
Sterling took home the sectional title.
By the numbers: Kaneland also has Drew Gould in the 110 hurdles, the 800 relay, and the 400 relay heading to state. Sycamore has discus thrower Trey Wideman going to the state tournament.
They said it: “We got done everything we were supposed to get done,” Sycamore head coach Pete Piccony said. “It’s just hard to say good-bye to the seniors. For some of them, it’s their last meet.”
Up next: The IHSA boys state track meet is in Charleston, IL next weekend.