EAST PEORIA — The 40th annual Peoria Journal Star/CEFCU Honor Roll Meet provided the perfect platform for redemption, state-meet tuneups, repeats and season bests Monday for area boys track and field athletes.
Take Notre Dame senior Vinnie Voudrie, for example.
Four days removed from failing to qualify for state as the top sectional seed in the discus, Voudrie blasted a school-record 158-feet, 5-inch toss to up his personal record by five feet and win the event by 13 feet at EastSide Centre.
“Sectional was rough, but coming into this meet I was like, ‘All right, senior year, last chance at redemption, last real opportunity to prove myself after sectionals,’” said the Marquette recruit, who scratched in each attempt at sectionals. “It was almost comforting thinking no matter what I can't do as bad as I did at sectionals.”
A little advice from sister Monica Voudrie, a three-time state qualifier in the shot and one-timer in the discus, didn’t hurt. Monica is a junior thrower at Marquette.
“She said first throw play safe and get a distance in and then just crank it in the last two,” said Voudrie, whose winning toss came on his second throw. “And obviously it worked well.
“I put a little extra on (the winner) and it kinda cruised on its own.”
One of the highlights of the annual finals-only, one-class meet was a photo finish between Metamora freshman Hunter Roedell and El Paso-Gridley junior Noah Smith in the 1600 meters.
Smith led much of the race, but Roedell put on a late charge and used a last-ditch lean to win in 4 minutes, 27.14 seconds — just five-hundredths of a second ahead of Smith.
“Coach told me to run the first two laps in 2:12ish,” said Roedell, who just missed qualifying for state in the event. “And (Smith) kept looking back and you could tell he was beat. He was beat whenever he started looking back.”
Roedell overcame about a five-meter deficit after the final turn to meet his goal of going under the state qualifying time.
“I was like, ‘Man, I want to win,’” Roedell said. “So then I looked at him and I heard our sprinters coach say, ‘kick it in now Hunter.’ So I started going. I could hear him breathing heavy, so I just went.”
Sectional champ Metamora swept the distance events, also getting victories from Jacob Gray in the 800 (season-best 1:59.69) and Adam Gilbreath Glaub in the 3200 (9:55.59). The Redbirds also received a repeat title from Ethan Poston in the high jump (6-6).
Gray had to hold off eighth-seeded senior teammate Ryan Meyer (2:01.21) to win the 800.
“It was great to do this with a teammate,” Gray said. “This is my last open 800 of the year, so It was nice to go under two (minutes).”
Meyer also set a PR by more than five seconds.
“Coach had us run one race and he gave me the shot in the open 800,” Meyer, a senior, said. “So I was able to follow this guy (Gray) with the win.”
Princeton senior Brett Schenck defended his titles in the sprints, winning the 100 in :11.07 and the 200 in :22.34.
“Obviously that’s the main goal when you come out here, to run to the best of your abilities,” said Schenck, a fourth-place state medalist in the Class 2A 100 last year. “Defending the titles was important to me. So to be able to do that is nice. And it’s also to keep loose before state.”
The other double winner was Olympia senior Dalton Spencer, who won the 110 high hurdles in :15.59 and the 300 intermediates in :41.09.
“It’s pretty awesome, considering the fact last year I didn't do so hot here, due to iron deficiency reasons,” Spencer said. “It was really nice to come back my senior year and finally get some ‘W's' down here.”
Pekin won both the 4x100 (:43.73) and 4x200 (1:31.40) relays, in season best times.
“The 4x1 we knew we had the time going in and the 4x2 we were shooting for a school record, so we had a lot going for us,” said anchor Ethan Hall, after the Dragons missed the state qualifying cut at the 3A sectional. “Given the chance to have a comeback and finish off strong, we did.”
AROUND THE TRACK: Kewanee senior Melcon DeJesus also leaned-out Metamora senior Ethan Hodel to win the 400 by nine-hundredths of a second (:50.43). Other individual winners were Jack Pompe of Dunlap in the pole vault (14-9), Jamony Skinner of Monmouth-Roseville in the long jump (22-0 ¼), Michael Hill of Illini Bluffs in the triple jump (44-3), and Jackson Sheckler of Illini Bluffs in the shot put (54-8 ½). Olympia won the 4x800 for the second time in three years (8:26.32), ahead of second-place Dunlap. Annawan/Wethersfield gave the small schools a relay win, beating the field in the 4x400 (3:30.19).
Stan Morris can be reached at 686-3214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @stanmorrispjs