VERNON HILLS – One week ago, Johnsburg junior Sandro Magradze set a personal best and a new school record in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.
He had worked hard to achieve his goal though wasn't satisfied. As an encore in his next competition Saturday at the Class 2A Vernon Hills boys track and field sectional, Magradze broke both records he set only seven days earlier in a first-place finish to secure his first state appearance.
Magradze (40.27) held off Wauconda senior Chris Bednarski by one thousandth of a second for the win.
"Over the past weeks I've been working on getting my steps down," Magradze said. "[Friday] though I was doing really bad in practice. ... My other coach told me if the day before I'm doing bad it's a sign of good luck so I took that and worked with it."
Magradze won't be alone next weeked at O'Brien Stadium in Charleston. Johnsburg's 4x800 relay team narrowly qualified for state, finishing third (8:14.24) after crossing the finish line exactly one second under the qualifying standard for the event. Richmond-Burton won the 4x800 relay in 8:10.85 to advance to state. Junior James Kaht's second-place finish (4:31.46) in the 1,600-meter run was also good enough to qualify.
"I was nervous because I wasn't sure if we were going to hit the time," Skyhawks coach Chris Setzler said of the relay race. "I knew it was going to be close between second and third and then I was worrying about time. I was really pleased to look at my watch and see we made it."
Three Woodstock athletes qualified individually led by senior Phil Krueger's standout performance in discus. Despite windy conditions that wreaked havoc on the throwers, Krueger's discus throw of 140-9 qualified him for state a second consecutive season.
"I've been working on my release a lot and using the whole circle with my spin," Krueger said. "I'm looking to try and break the school record this year."
Blue Streaks senior Kyle Olesen embraced his last shot at qualifying in the high jump after last year's disappointment of falling short in the sectional. Olesen made the most of his opportunity clearing 6-3 to become one of five jumpers to advance. Senior teammate Tyler Parsons finished second (15.28) in the 110-meter high hurdles to qualify.
"Nothing," Olesen said of what he was thinking on his state-clinching approach. "That's the best way it can be. If you think you mess up."
A third-place finish by Harvard junior Jorge Pichardo in the 3,200-meter run clinched his state berth by recording a time of 9:45.17. Woodstock North senior Sidney Smith advanced in the 400-meter dash with a third-place finish (50.76). In the pole vault, Marengo senior Mike Zaranski cleared 13-3 for a second-place finish to qualify for state.