CHARLESTON, Ill. – Bryce Holesinger surprised himself with a second-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles race at the Illinois Class 1A boys track and field state meet. His expectations likely will be higher next spring.
“Well, I’m ready for next year,” he said Saturday after the runner-up finish at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium. “I honestly didn’t think I would make the finals (because of a hip injury). (Before the season) I expected to make it back to state and make finals. I had no idea that I was going to get second, so that exceeded my expectations. I also ran a 39-second race, and that’s the other goal that I wanted.”
Overcoming the injury, Holesinger, a junior for Fulton/Fulton Unity Christian, ran the race in 39.95 seconds, just .10 behind senior Jason Bliven of Trenton Wesclin.
“Right before state I pulled my hip flexor and strained by TFL, so I was just trying to catch back up,” he said.
Fortunately for Holesinger, the injury wasn’t as disruptive to him in the 300 hurdles as it was in the 110 high hurdles, in which he failed to qualify for the finals.
“In the 300s, because the hurdles are lower, I could cycle it through just as fast as I normally do. But in the 110s, I couldn’t get it high enough to cycle through.”
When Holesinger saw what he could do in Thursday’s preliminaries – he ran the fourth-fastest time – that changed his outlook.
“When I made it to finals, that was great,” he said. “When I knew I had a shot, starting out in fourth, it felt phenomenal. Words can’t describe how I felt.
“Getting to the finals and ranking fourth, I had the mindset that I could go out there and win it. All of us were so close, so I decided to go for it.”
But, once again he faced some adversity.
“I did the same thing I did in the prelims,” Holesinger said. “I chopped that second hurdle really bad. After that, if I had a better a better last leg and didn’t switch feet over the last hurdle, I think I might have got him. It felt absolutely great.”
While the second-place finish was great, there was something else that made his state meet experience special.
“Honestly, I think my biggest accomplishment is not getting second, but beating (Bureau Valley’s) Logan Hoffert,” Holesinger said. “That kid has challenged me year in and year out ever since I was a freshman. To finally beat him for the first time, it makes me feel really good.”
Erie/Prophetstown’s Devin Johnson matched Holesinger with a runner-up finish in the 1A long jump. He also placed eighth in the 400 and was on the third-place 800 relay team and fourth-place 400 relay unit. Those finishes helped the Panthers place third in the team competition.
“It’s really cool,” Johnson said of capping his career that way, “but obviously I wanted them to be higher medals. On prelims, I didn’t know if I would make it to the finals in all four events.”
Johnson said he was a bit disappointed with the individual finishes but not the with the relays or the team race.
“No, we never have run a meet this fast before,” he said. “I’m just glad that my guys are doing so well, and we’re going to get a nice team finish.”
For teammate Nate Andreas, who ran on the two relay teams with Chris Bauer, Darius Owens and Johnson, the only damper was the dampness. Afternoon rains soaked the athletes Saturday.
“We came here for prelims (Thursday), and the weather wasn’t ideal,” he said. “It was so nice on Friday to watch the 2A and 3A prelims (that) we were super pumped for the finals.
“It is what it is, so there wasn’t much we could do about it.”
Still, it was a great way to end a high school career.
“Coming out for my first year in track and being on a team like this has been really exciting,” Andreas said. “I’m truly blessed to be where I’m at in my senior year.”
Chad Dare, sports editor of the Danville (Ill.) Commercial-News, a CNHI sister publication, contributed to this report.