CHARLESTON — Minor improvements can help take athletes to levels that they have never achieved before. For Alleman senior Seth Sottos, just a fraction of a second made a world of difference.

Sottos qualified for today's Class 2A state finals in the 200-meter dash with a Friday run of 22.71. That was just .06 faster than his time from his junior year that did not qualify him for the finals.

Sottos also ran in the 100-meter dash, where his time of 10.98 was just .02 seconds off of the qualifying mark for today. Still, the Pioneer is happy to have made it to a level so few are able to reach.

“It feels really great to be down here and make the finals,” Sottos said. “Last year, I didn’t have the season I wanted, but it made me want to push myself even more this season to make the finals.”

Sottos is a little disappointed to not qualify for the 100 finals, but it motivated him in his 200 race.

“I would have had to get a personal best in the 100 to qualify, after seeing what the times were in the other two heats,” Sottos said. “It doesn’t feel great to miss the 100 by that much, but it made me push myself more in the 200.”

To earn a top medal today in the finals, Sottos will have to improve his form in the early sections of the race.

“My start hasn’t been good all year,” Sottos said. “The first 100 meters in general has been a little rough. I need to stay low in the first 50 and hopefully I can climb up the podium.”

Also able to qualify for the finals today was Kewanee’s Melcon DeJesus in the 400 with a time of 49.66, which was second in his heat.

DeJesus, who is only a sophomore, is eyeing a high finish in the finals.

“It would feel great to get a top spot on Saturday,” DeJesus said. “It’s a good experience no matter what. The goal is to get higher every year.”

The Boilermaker wants to continue his success throughout the rest of his career.

“It’s pretty awesome to be able to qualify for finals. I know what I need to do junior and senior year to get here,” DeJesus said.

In Class 3A, there were no local finalists.

Rock Island's Austin Taylor competed in both the 100 and 200 with a time of 11.12 in the 100 and a 22.80 in the 200.

Rock Island’s Samson Shukuru missed the finals in the long jump with a distance of 22-0.5, while Rocks senior Blake McKillip threw the discus 153-3, missing the finals by just under two feet.

The Moline relay team of Jabari Rogers, Immanuel Bailey, Marcelius Williamson and Fred Henderson ran in both the 400 and 800 and nearly made it through to the finals in the 800 with a time of 1:29.15, missing by .64 of a second.

Also failing to make the finals in 2A was Geneseo senior Luke Sebastian after running 42.40 in the prelims of the 300 hurdles.