CHARLESTON – Kaneland senior Clayton Hannula privately possessed a burning desire to top last season’s state showing.
As a junior, Hannula exited O’Brien Stadium with a pair of medals. He earned third place in the discus and shot put.
But that was in Class 2A.
Despite a step up in competition, Hannula achieved one of his goals of advancing to the Class 3A state finals in the shot put and discus. Hannula was one of the surprise storylines in the throwing events this weekend, capping a solid showing Saturday with a third-place medal in the shot put with a top throw of 58 feet, 4 inches. He earned a fifth-place medal in the discus (168-1).
Hannula’s Kaneland teammate Matthew Richtman also earned a medal. Sycamore senior Stephen Poorten was seventh in the 3,200 in Class 2A, and Trey Wideman medaled for the Spartans as well.
The Knights placed 15th with 14 points in their inaugural appearance in Class 3A.
“I wanted to come out and compete and do the best I could, especially after what I did last year,” Hannula said. “It’s very exciting to do well. I felt more confident this year, and it feels nice to get [two] medals in [Class] 3A.”
Hannula, a North Dakota State signee, had an up-close view of Lockport senior John Meyer, a Michigan recruit, win the shot put and place third in the discus. Hannula saved his top throws for the finals in both events.
“It was great competition,” he said. “In the shot, I just tried to go out and clear my head and punch it.”
Kaneland senior Matt Richtman, a four-time state participant, added another medal to his résumé with an eighth-place time of 9 minutes, 14.96 seconds in the 3,200-meter run.
Richtman, a Bradley recruit, credited his performance in the final mile to helping him set a personal best time.
“It was a good race for me, just to come in and do better than my 10th-place seed,” Richtman said. “I haven’t run too much in the 2-mile against competition like this.”
Senior Grant Wilk narrowly missed adding his name to the legion of Kaneland pole vaulters with state medals. Wilk placed 10th with a vault of 14-3.
Wideman failed to top his preliminary tosses in the discus, finishing with a 165-10 for fourth place to earn six points for his team. The Spartans tallied nine points to end in 33rd place.
“I still placed and medaled,” said Wideman, a Western Illinois recruit. “I’ll take this as a learning experience. I just felt off today. ... I’m still happy, but I could’ve done better.”
Poorten expressed disappointment over his seventh-place showing in the 3,200 (9:40.13). The Marquette recruit wrapped up his stellar cross country and track careers with five state medals.
“I haven’t had a bad race all year up to this point,” Poorten said. “I was hoping to get top two or three. I just didn’t have it in the last mile. I was hoping to go then. I didn’t have anything left. Something was off. But I had a great time running at Sycamore. My coaches did everything right to help me in my career.”
Sycamore’s 4x800 relay team of Jacob Jovanovich, Riley Melton, Jake Carani and Lucas McKay clocked a 12th-place finish of 8:15.96.
“We were hoping to medal, but top 12 in the state meet is not too shabby,” Melton said, a senior. “Our team worked really hard all year to get to state. We’re proud of how we did.”