LASALLE — Geneseo sprinter Nick Swartzendruber called Wednesday evening a perfect night. Then, he amended his statement to "on and off the track."
On a gorgeous evening, Swartzendruber and the Maple Leafs had a strong night, winning the team title for the third time in the last four years and qualifying for state finals in seven events at the Class 2A LaSalle-Peru Sectional. The Leafs topped Alleman 86-72 in the team race.
"Oh yeah, everyone is pumped tonight," Swartzendruber said. "Our goal was the win the team title and get as many people to state as we could."
Swartzendruber will be part of three of those seven state events — handily winning the 400- and 800-meter dashes and running on the second-place-finishing 1,600 relay.
"My coaches told me to go out fast, get the lead and take it easy the rest of the way," he said. "My times were good in 400 and 800, but when you get to this point it is more about just getting to state."
Also qualifying in three events was hurdles sensation Reed Vanderheyden, who won the 110 high hurdles and the 300 low hurdles. He also ran on the 1,600 relay.
"I nailed the first two hurdles in the 300, but I was able to rebound pretty well to win," Vanderheyden said. "It was frustrating, but it happens and you have to keep focused. Getting to state is the whole thing in this meet."
That and win the team title.
"That is a huge thing to win the team title," he said. "We won it my first two years and didn't last year, so this is big. We win because of our diversity of events. We score in so many places, and guys who won't be participating at state were key to us winning.
"Colton Pischke got big points in both hurdles but didn't quite qualify for state (he did make it in the 1,600 relay)."
Geneseo also will send the winning 3,200 relay team and Blake Duncan in the 1,600.
Pioneers get seven to state: Alleman also had a beautiful night. Led by an impressive sweep of the 1,600 and 3,200 by Spencer Smith, the Pioneers will also have seven events going to Charleston next Friday.
Smith dominated both of his events, winning by six seconds in a cruise home in the 1,600 and taking the 3,200 by 30 seconds.
"It is a little more challenging for me when I'm running that far ahead," Smith said. "In the 3,200 I was at a PR pace after a mile, but I decided that wasn't important now, so I held back the second half of the race. In the 1,600, I went out fast to see if anyone wanted to go with me or I would put it away early.
"There is some good talent here but not state-quality so I know I will run different races at state. It was a good night, and I still have energy left."
Another two-event qualifier is thrower Brennan Wilson who surprised himself by taking second first in the discus and then in his main event, the shot put.
"I didn't expect that discus, and I did it on my first throw," Wilson said. "Discus used to be my favorite, but I started working hard on the shot, and now I like it better. I've thrown 54 and 55 in the shot this year and went 50-10 (Wednesday), but I'm not disappointed, I am at state in both."
Other Alleman qualifiers are Seth Sottos (200), John Huntley (400) and Corneille Logo (triple jump).