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Through rainy conditions, the Illinois High School Association state meet went on as scheduled, with preliminaries last Thursday.
Two Vandalia athletes – senior Daniel Bell and junior Quenten Austin – battled through those conditions, and while neither made the finals, both bettered their qualifying marks.
“I think the goal was for them to run a personal best, and their personal best would re-set the school record,” said coach Jane Bell. “It was a little disappointing that the weather prevented them from doing that.
“They were happy to move up (their finishing positions), but they were more glad to be there.”
Austin had the best finish of the duo, placing 13th in the 300-meter hurdles. His time of 42.35 seconds was just half a second slower than the time he ran at the sectional meet, which was the 22nd fastest time among state qualifiers.
Jane Bell said had the conditions been better, Austin most likely would have broken his own school record of 41.7 seconds.
Throughout the season, Austin has been slow getting out of the blocks, but he reached the first hurdle much faster than he has all season.
“One of the things he was working on was getting to the first hurdle faster,” Jane Bell said. “At state, he gained almost a second on the first hurdle.”
The coach also said Daniel Bell’s effort in the 800-meter run was good enough that it could have broken his school record (2:03.8) in better conditions.
He placed 26th of 42 runners, with a time of 2:04.22, after qualifying with the slowest time.
“They both ran all the way through the finish,” Jane Bell said. “That’s what we do.”
Both Vandalia athletes also participated in the discus throw.
A leaf blower was used throughout the competition to clear water from the ring, and the discus field was like a “swamp,” Jane Bell said.
“Neither of them complained about that,” she said. “We talked about how in any competition, there is going to be a glitch, so it’s never going to be perfect.”
Austin placed 29th of 39 in discus, with a throw of 121 feet, 1 inch. He had qualified with the shortest distance.
Daniel Bell placed 34th, with a throw of 115 feet, 2 inches. He had qualified with the 37th farthest throw.