After getting a taste of competing with the state’s best a year ago, Althoff junior Jaylon Bester proved he is among the elite small school track and field athletes in the state on Thursday during the preliminary round of the Class 1A state track meet.
Competing at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston, Bester capped a memorable opening round with an effort of 43 feet 9 inches in the triple jump — the third longest of the day — and also qualified for the finals in the long jump and as a member of the Crusaders 400 meter relay team to lead the way for mnetro-east area athletes.
Bester also has the seventh best jump in the long jump — 20 feet, 9 3/4 inches and ran on the Crusaders 400-meter relay squad that finished its heat in a time of 43.82 seconds. That time was the eighth fastest of the day and clinched a medal for Althoff in the event.
Preliminary jumps in the triple jump and long jump carry over to the finals on Saturday and Bester will have three more jumps in both to see if he can improve his distance and place in both. Althoff teammate Melvin Brock also qualified for the finals in the long jump and is currently 12th with a jump of 20 feet 4 1/2 inches.
The top nine in each event earn medals.
Laird, Monroe, Nashville also qualify for finals
One of the top thinclads in the pole vault all season, Wesclin senior Blake Laird tied for the top effort in the Class 1A preliminaries with a vault of 13 feet 6 inches on Thursday and figures to be in the title hunt on Saturday.
Sparta senior William Monroe has the eighth best throw in the discus at 149 feet 3 inches, while Nashville’s time of 8 minutes 18.39 seconds in the 3,200 meter relay was the seventh fastest recorded.
The Class 2A preliminaries, featuring five time defending champion Cahokia, get underway at 8 a.m. on Friday while the Class 3A preliminaries are set to begin at noon. Edwardsville is the defending state champion in Class 3A.
The finals in all three classses will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday at O’Brien Stadium.