If O'Fallon track and field coach Ron Koch had his way, the Panthers would not be making a 275-mile trek to Rock Island High School on Friday for the Class 3A Rock Island Track and Field Sectional.
But it could be worse.
"We're going to go up and do the best we can. I remember a couple of years ago we came up here for a sectional and performed pretty well. I have no reason to believe it will be any different this time,'' Koch said. "The goal is to get as many individuals through and give yourselves the best possible chance of doing well next weekend at state.
"This is what it's all about. This is what we've worked for all year."
The Southwestern Conference champion Panthers will be joined by 2012 Class 3A state team runner-up Edwardsville, Belleville West, Alton, Belleville East, Granite City and Collinsville in Rock Island.
Field events begin at 3:30 p.m., with track preliminaries set to begin at 4:15 p.m.
Finals will begin at 5:30 p.m. The top two individuals in each event and any others equaling or bettering state qualifying times and distances will advance to the IHSA Boys State Track and Field Meet, May 23-25 at O'Brien Stadium in Charleston.
The Panthers are led by the distance-running duo of Patrick Perrier and Alex Riba. Both Riba and Perrier have times that rank in the state's top five in the 1,600 meters.
Riba, a Texas A& M recruit, also a top 800 runner, while Perrrier is one nation's best in the 3,200.
The Panthers also have a top duo in the pole vault in Jack Klopfenstein and Pat Riley, a top threat in the 100 in Chris Wiggins and feature some of the state's top relays.
Edwardsville also is solid in all relays and, like O'Fallon, coach Chad Lakatos has a potential three-event state qualifier in senior Julian Harvey, who excels in the triple jump, long jump and high jump.
Belleville West is led by its 400, 800 and 1,600 relay, all of which rank in the state's top three.
Other top Maroons hopes include Jamion Nash in the triple jump, Pierre Gee-Tucker in the discus and Tevin Suggs in the 200.
West coach Patton Segraves likes the way his team looks going into the postseason.
"I've been very pleased with our team this year. We've depended on some young sprinters and they haven't disappointed," Segraves said. "Our veterans have stepped up and performed strong all season. They are focused to get to Charleston.
"This is the time of the year where you want to be at your best. Last week at conference we put up some very good times, so we're excited for the next two weeks. The goal for Friday is to get as many kids to state as possible."
Class 2A Salem Sectional
The stars will be shining on Thursday as two-time defending state champion Cahokia and East St. Louis headline a field which is loaded with some of the state's top athletes.
Field events begin at 4 p.m. with running preliminaries to follow at Salem High School.
Other local teams competing include Central, Columbia, Freeburg, Mascoutah, Triad and Waterloo.
Civic Memorial, Highland, Jerseyville, Roxana and Wood River are competing at the (Springfield) Lanphier Sectional, which is being held on Friday.
Cahokia is led by senior Chris Moore, who owns the state's top effort in the long jump (24-feet-8-inches) and triple jump (48-10 1/4). Freshman teammate Ja'Mari Ward ranks second in both events.
The Comanches also are ranked first in the 800 relay (1:28.2) and in the top five in the 400, 1,600 and 3,200 relays.
Defending 400 meters state champion Marlin Brady is among the top four in his event, while senior Darren Payton is among the state's top runners in the 800.
East St. Louis is led by senior Marcus Greer, who has the top time in the 300 hurdles at 55.66 seconds. Greer is also among the state's best in the 110 hurdles.
The Flyers also boast the state's fastest time in the 400 relay (42.51) and 1,600 relay (3:19.1).
Waterloo senior Justin Kretchmer has the best mark in the high jump. The defending state champion, Kretchmer has cleared 6-11.
Waterloo teammate Brendan Duncan is third in the discus (190-0) and second in the shot put (61-8 inches). Duncan was the 2011 state champion in the discus.
Site, date and time: Nashville High School, Friday, 4 p.m.
Local teams: Althoff, Mater Dei, Dupo, Lebanon, Nashville, New Athens, O'Fallon (First Baptist Academy), Okawville, Red Bud, Sparta, Wesclin and Gibault.
Top local athletes: Matt McDonald, Dupo (long jump, triple jump and high jump); Jason Bivens, Wesclin (110 and 300 hurdles); Justin Goff, Wesclin (100 and 200).
Class 1A Litchfield Sectional
Site: date, time: Litchfield High School, Thursday, 4 p.m.
Local teams: Marquette, Metro East Lutheran and Madison.
Top local athletes: Carvel Dixon, Madison (100).