CHARLESTON, Ill. — Bryce Holesinger wasn’t going to let an injury stop him.
Holesinger, a junior at Fulton High School, qualified for Saturday’s finals in the 300-meter hurdles by winning his heat Thursday in the preliminaries at the Illinois Class 1A track and field state meet at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium.
Holesinger won by the slimmest of margins — two-thousandths of a second over Steve Gualandri of Peru St. Bede — and advanced with the fifth-fastest time overall (40.414 seconds) in the event.
“That close? No,” Holesinger said when asked if he had ever been in such a close race. “Never down to the (thousandth) of a second like that. Coming into the race, he beat me in sectionals pretty good. When I saw him hit that hurdle, I gave it all I had and it looks like we’re both going to the finals.
“As a junior, (making the finals) means everything. Track is like the biggest thing for me, and I love doing it. I’ve wanted to be an Olympic athlete since I was 4, so it means just about everything to me.”
Holesinger also ran in the 110 hurdles Thursday but didn’t advance. He was sixth in his heat in 15.76 and needed a time of 15.59 or better to move on.
Moving at all hasn’t been all that easy lately.
“I just recently pulled my hip flexor and strained my TFL, so I couldn’t get my hip to rotate fast enough,” he said. “I was determined to do something at state. It felt good to make it in the 300 hurdles.”
The athletes from Erie/Prophetstown had to be feeling pretty good, too. The Panthers advanced in all but one of theirs event to enhance their chances of a top-10 finish. The only event in which they didn’t move on was the pole vault, where Jared Cole went 12 feet, 6 inches and Kyle Pannier went 12-0. A leap of 13-0 was needed to move on.