CHARLESTON – Marengo sophomore Jarrell Jackson smiled when asked if he thought, a few months ago, he might finish the season with a third-place state medal around his neck.
“No, I did not think that,” said Jackson, after taking third in the Class 2A 100 meters at the boys state track and field meet. “It was pretty good. I think I could have done better.”
Jackson ran right with Chicago Dunbar’s Demoria Harris and Sycamore’s Dion Hooker, even leading briefly, before being edged out at the finish line Saturday at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium. Harris finished in 10.83, Hooker in 10.84, Jackson in 10.92, only three-hundredths off his qualifying time from Friday.
Johnsburg’s 4x800 relay team of Sam Blankenship, Matt Stelmasek, Mark Gaura and Noah Miller finished eighth in Class 2A. Woodstock North pole vaulter Jimmy Krenger finished ninth for the second state medal in school history.
Marengo coach Jared Secor said Jackson’s best 100 time as a freshman was 11.3.
“It’s been awesome how far he’s come,” Secor said. “We’re already talking about what we want to do, getting more guys out and putting together 4x100 and 4x200 relays. And we want to work on his finish and get better in the 200.”
Jackson did not qualify for the 200 finals, but made the most of his brief time on the blue track at O’Brien Stadium. It was Marengo’s highest boys state finish since Anthony Weber was Class A pole vault runner-up in 2003.
“The next two years could be pretty exciting,” Jackson said.
“Jarrell is only going to use this to get better,” he said.
Johnsburg’s 4x800 team did not improve on its qualifying time from Friday’s preliminary heats, but earned its school’s first track and field medal since 2009. All four runners return next year.
“It was pretty good,” Stelmasek said. “It wasn’t our best, but we gave it our all and that’s all you can ask. We hoped to get a medal and we got one. It’s a good learning experience.”
Krenger, a junior, tied his career-best height of 13-6 in the pole vault, but missed at 13-9. Former teammate Jon Walsh, who will vault at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale next year, won the Class 2A pole vault two years ago, the Thunder’s first state medal in any sport. Walsh was with the Krenger family over the weekend and helped coach Krenger.