CHARLESTON — Erie-Prophetstown senior Kyle Kruthoff had a big target on his back as the defending Class 1A pole vault champ.
That didn't deter him from the task of repeating. Or setting a state record in the process.
Kruthoff crushed the competition on Saturday, clearing a Class 1A state record of 16 feet, 8 inches as he topped the 15-vaulter field by nearly two feet.
“This is what I worked for all year,” said Kruthoff, who topped the previous state 1A mark of 16-3. “Landing on the mat, I got done everything that I wanted.”
As he ran down the lane for the record-breaking vault, Kruthoff had the entire stadium in a slow clap that then erupted into cheers and applause when he cleared the historic height.
“It’s just a great atmosphere here,” Kruthoff said. “The willingness that people have to support kids that they don’t know is incredible.”
Competing alongside Kruthoff was E-P junior Cameron Abell, who finished in a tie for ninth with a height of 13-6.
While Abell recognizes the work he needs to do, he was happy to be competing with his teammate as the rest of the team worked on the track.
“It’s been a pretty good experience,” Abell said. “I definitely need to do a lot more and have more practice. I couldn’t imagine being on a different team. We’re like a family and have really great leaders. Next year, I’ll have to step up and be a leader myself.”
“Cameron and I have been great friends for years,” Kruthoff said. “I’ve been able to help him with some of the fundamentals and it’s been amazing to compete against him.”
The Morrison Mustangs did their best to grab some headlines as well. They fell just short of a team trophy as their 33 points placed fourth, just three points behind a tie for second between DuQuoin and Pana. Catlin (Salt Fork) won the team title with 40 points.
Morrison’s 3,200 relay team of Hunter Newman, Koby Brackemeyer, Nathan Mickley and Keegan Anderson got the day started in gold-medal fashion, winning by nearly five seconds with a time of 7:57.85.
“Soon as I crossed the finish line I felt great,” Newman said. “We’ve been training all year, even in the snow, and it’s good to see our hard work pay off.”
Newman, a freshman, and Brackemeyer, a junior, both ran in the open 800, Newman earning the silver medal (1:55.25) and Brackemeyer placing fifth (1:57.49).
“I was really excited to get on the podium,” Newman said. “My target time was 1:56 so I was happy to exceed that. Second place is really awesome.”
Brackemeyer would have liked to finish higher on the podium, but was content with his performance.
“I just wanted to get the highest places as possible and get a personal best,” Brackemeyer said. “I think we put ourselves in a good spot as a team.”
Morrison coach Tim Duncan reflected on a weekend filled with different feelings.
“If Keegan had stayed healthy, we might have been able to get a team trophy,” said Duncan, referring to Anderson's sectional injury. “This weekend has been such a roller coaster of emotion. We can’t be too upset with how we did.”
Duncan had nothing but words of encouragement for his ailing junior.
“Keegan did all he could,” Duncan said. “He might feel like he let his team down, but it’s the opposite. We wouldn’t have been in contention without him.”
Orion senior Logan Lee ended his career on another high note as he finished second in the shot put with a throw of 55-8 that came in Thursday's preliminaries. He trailed New Berlin junior Greg Zellers by just 1½ inches.
“I’m absolutely proud,” Lee said. “I was truly very blessed to be in this spot. Taking two years off and coming back was tough, but the coaches have helped me and taken me to this level.”
Galva senior Caelin Foley also ended his career with a silver medal in the 3,200 with a time of 9:39.92. The Wildcat also finished on the podium in the 1,600 with a 4:33.50 eighth-place finish.
In the 3,200, Foley was in third going into the last 200 meters but ran down one person as he rounded the corner.
“I knew I was close enough to get him,” Foley said. “I just had to put the effort in.”
Foley came into the 3,200 as a lower seed and may have surprised the audience, but he knew that he could run with the best of them.
“I was a little more confident that I could place high,” Foley said. “My seed time was low because we had bad weather at sectionals and no one was really pushing me. I couldn’t have told you I would have finished this high, though. It’s really exciting. My goal was to medal in both events and I wanted to be one of those names that people in the community don’t forget, and I think I accomplished that.”
A pair of sprinters logged the top local Class 2A finishes on Saturday. Kewanee sophomore Melcon Dejesus placed fifth in the open 400, clocking a 49.92 and Alleman's Seth Sottos placed sixth (22.19) in the open 200.