Had he been playing a video game, Drew Bell would have hit the reset button.
‘It was really disappointing,’ said the VCHS junior of his preliminary race in the 1,600-meter run Friday at the IHSA boys state track and field meet. ‘I was hoping to at least get to the finals, but I wasn’t even close.’
Bell did indeed fall well short of his goal of qualifying for the finals, as his time of 4 minutes, 41.56 seconds placed him sixth out of nine runners in his heat and 18th out of 29 overall. The top 12 runners advanced.
Bell came in seeded ninth in the event, and was hopeful that a time similar to the 4:34 he posted in winning the SCC 1,600m title a couple weeks prior would vault him into the finals for the first time in his career.
As it turns out, that time would have probably made the cut, but it simply wasn’t Bell’s day.
He found himself in a competitive fourth place after two laps, but faded down the stretch, leaving him wishing he had been more aggressive early in the race.
‘I should have gone out there the second lap and taken the lead, but I didn’t,’ Bell said. ‘These guys have a lot better kick than I do… It’s not really what I wanted to do.’
The race started more than three hours behind schedule, due to four lightning/thunder delays, but Bell wasn’t about to use that as an excuse.
‘I thought it was kinda nice,’ said Bell of the delays. ‘I got a couple naps in today… It just wasn’t a good race.’
Fortunately, Bell will have an opportunity to redeem himself in his senior year.
Vandals senior Josh Goen was a surprise state qualifier in the 300m hurdles, after coming out of nowhere to win the Robinson Sectional title with a career-best time of 41.75 seconds.
Unfortunately, Goen could not duplicate that performance in his first appearance on the big blue track at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium, as he finished seventh out of seven in his heat with a time of 44.06 seconds.
‘It was not quite what was hoped for,’ said Vandals coach Jane Bell of the day overall. ‘But it was an accomplishment for both boys to get to state.’
Goen, like Bell, was making his second career state appearance. Goen qualified in the triple jump as a sophomore.