The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Illini West Boys Silver at State

by: Joanna Sholl, For The Quill

The Illini West Boys sent five guys and an alternate to the state meet to compete this past weekend, and left town with a trophy almost bigger than smallest guy on the team.

The team of Jacob Sholl, Blaze Murfin (seniors), Carson McKee and Jace Newman (sophomores) and Connor Artman (freshman small guy) and alternate Dalton Merry pulled together and made good on their crazy scheme at the beginning of the season this year: to win a team trophy, but not just any trophy.

The original plan was to bring home the big one for first place, but there were lots of mitigating factors that came into play, including Mother Nature having her say with the weather, and a huge, deep Tolono Unity team.

Fortunately, the Chargers pulled together and earned enough team points by the end of the meet to slip into 2nd place, and remain there. Huge contributors were seniors Blaze Murfin, and Jacob Sholl.

Murfin set the tone for the meet early on Thursday prelims in the shot put and discus with the top throws of the day.

Sholl lived up to high expectations set by himself and qualified for finals in the 100m, 200, and 400, with the top time of the day in his signature event, the 400m.

Sophomore Jace Norman gave it a great effort in high jump, but missed qualifying for finals on Saturday.

The 4x100m relay team of Jace Norman, Connor Artman, Carson McKee and Jacob Sholl qualified for finals day with a time in the top six.

Saturday, the scrappy boys' team from Illini West came to the track and went to business. The 4x100 relay team finished their event with a 5th place medal, running in 43.82, which was good for 5 points.

Blaze Murfin threw a monster throw in shot 59 feet 8.5 inches. That was good enough for a state title!

Blaze also set an Illini West school record with that throw, beating his previous record.

Unfortunately, after initial throws in discus ring, there was a lightning delay, which ended up lasting over two hours. Coming back from the delay, Murfin took 2nd in the event with a throw of 173ft 10in. That was good enough for a silver medal, and 8 team points, for a total 18 Team Murfin points.

Back on the track, after the delay, which stranded the 100m runners in their blocks looking like they were ready for a party with nowhere to run, Jacob Sholl finished in 7th place.

Sholl stated, the field was full of first class speed, and hoped to finish in the top three. Unfortunately, he did not get the huge points he was hoping for, but in the end, it all worked out.

With the IHSA meet officials trying to beat the impending storm, the running events were moved up to be run on an expedited schedule.

Shortly, after running the 100, Sholl returned to the track to claim the 400m title with a time of 48.72!

Sholl then returned to defend his 2014 state title in the 200m, and was denied the repeat with a time of 22.01.

Sholl managed to rack up a total of 21 team points in his three individual events, and an extra 5 for the team from the relay.

When asked if he was disappointed about the fact he did not win all three events, Sholl replied,  Absolutely not! Sure, I had high expectations coming into the meet, and it would have been great to grab the repeat 200 title, but my main objective was to help the team bring home a trophy. I knew I had to be in the top two in the 200 event, to put us in contention. A team trophy was our team focus, and when you look at this goofy bunch of guys that came to this meet to even attempt such a feat, it seems unbelievable that we actually brought a second  I couldn t be more proud of our team, and I am honored to be part of such a great group of guys and coaches.

"We really wanted to provide the matching bookend to the girl s trophy, but there were some great teams with depth down here that were just a bit stronger and faster than we were at the given time.

"I think Tolono Unity must have brought an army!

"When you think about 6 guys showing up to grab a piece of the action, it seems ludicrous! Then you add the fact that Blaze, Carson, and me never even had an actual track in junior high track to train on, it makes it so much more absurd. I couldn t be happier!"

The Chargers second place team finish gave them the best boys track finish in Illini West history.

Murfin will continue his track career at the University of Dubuque, in Dubuque, Iowa.

Sholl will continue his track career at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri.

Congratulations on a great Illini West boys track season, and best of luck to Murfin and Sholl on their track careers at the collegiate level.

1st place State Winners Jacob Sholl with his 3 state medals and Blaze Murfin with his two state medals, holding the Illini West team Runner-Up Trophy.