Morrison’s Justice Brainerd crosses the finish line as the anchor of the first-place 4x200 meter relay Thursday at Sherrard High School. The Mustangs won the sectional meet and qualified a handful of athletes for next weekend’ state meet in Charleston.

SHERRARD – It is one thing to be favored to win an event on paper. The act of actually toeing the track and doing it, though, is a different story.

The Mustangs entered a Class 1A sectional Thursday in Sherrard with lofty expectations following a dazzling regular season – and it is safe to say they backed it up.

“The kids understand that nothing is guaranteed,” Morrison assistant coach Sammy Biggs said. “They are gamers, and they compete every single time. They know that they can’t just show up and have it given to them.

“I think that they have a target on their back, and they like that and feed off the energy.”

Morrison took home first-place as a team and will have an impressive fleet to take to Charleston, the site of the Illinois High School State Track and Field event next weekend.

The Mustangs took top honors in the 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800 relays, which are comprised by the likes of Nick Allen, Alex Anderson, Thomas Dauphin, Justice Brainerd, Hunter Newman, Koby Brackemeyer, Nathan Mickley and Keegan Anderson.

Newman and Brackemeyer also qualified for state as individuals in the 800-meter run, racing to first- and second-place finishes within a second of each other.

Anderson and Mickley shined in the 400, as Anderson took first (49.41) while Mickley took fourth (52.04).

Duncan has helmed the program for the past 32 years, a storied career that boasts a third-place team finish at state in 2006. This year, the Mustangs could be poised for even better results.

“It’s going to be one of the better ones if things go like they should go,” Morrison head coach Tim Duncan said.

Erie finished third overall and will send a group to state after utterly dominating the field events during a sun-soaked afternoon at Sherrard High School.

Erie took the top two spots in pole vault with Kyle Kruhtoff clearing 16-00 and teammate Camer Abell 14-00. Levi Cole added a triumph in the high jump (6-02) while Trevor Pratt (shot put) and Eric Robinson (long jump) claimed third to fill up the team’s score sheet.

Max Weidel finished second in the 400 for the Panthers to book a trip to state, too.

While a young Fulton team failed to climb into state qualifying position in any event, the Steamers gathered valuable experience through competing in a high-pressure environment that the annual sectional meet offers.

“I just thought our effort more than anything was good,” Fulton coach Mike Ankrom said. “We had some personal bests and that was our goal today, to peak and get those... we saw a lot of guys do that from Zach Dykstra in the long jump to Michael Apostolos in the triple jump.

“We had a bunch of guys compete well for us, so I am happy for them and the efforts they put out.”

The state meet will begin Thursday on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.