Galva’s Foley, ROWVA-Williamsfield’s Varner qualify for state track meet in two events

A pair of Galva High School track and field athletes have their eyes on the medal stand this weekend in Charleston.

Peyton Sopiars will represent the Wildcats in the triple jump at the Class 1A boys state track and field meet at Eastern Illinois University, and distance standout Caelin Foley competes in both the 1600- and 3200-meter runs.

The state prelims are Thursday (May 24) starting with the field events at 10 a.m. and running events at 11 a.m. The finals are Saturday (May 26) at 10 a.m.

Sopiars, a sophomore making his second trip to the state meet, turned some heads around the state with his sectional-winning leap of 44-4 1/4 at Knoxville Friday. He heads to Charleston with the state’s top sectional triple jump. Only one other jumper cracked the 44-foot mark — Keegan Zack of Watseka with a jump of 44-3.

The Knoxville jump also shattered the school record Sopiars set earlier this season of 43-1 1/2.

Sopiars said the sectional jump gives him confidence heading to the state meet.

“For sure. I’m hoping to come out and PR again and break the record (Galva school) again,” Sopiars said. “Hopefully I can bring home some hardware.”

Sopiars unleashed his 44-4 1/4 jump on his first attempt at the sectional.

“I think my brother (Jake) being up at the meet was definitely huge,” Sopiars said. “He came up from Collinsville with my dad. He coaches track down there and he gave me some tips. I came out with explosion. I wasn’t expecting to jump 44, but I did.”

Sopiars said the keys for him at state will be to stay confident and prepare properly for the event. Last year’s trip to Charleston will prove beneficial in this year’s return visit.

“I learned a lot of stuff — a bunch about triple jump. I talked to a bunch of different coaches and kids, and met some people that I’ll probably see again down there this year,” Sopiars said. “It was definitely a good experience.”

And he didn’t hesitate when asked about the ultimate goal this weekend.

“Bring home the gold,” Sopiars said.

Foley also is making a return to state, but after a one-year hiatus. He qualified for state in the 3200-meter run his freshman year, but battled injuries his sophomore year and didn’t make the return trip to Charleston.

Foley’s healthy now and ready to put an exclamation point on an outstanding junior season.

“The goal all season was to get back down there,” Foley said. “Freshman year I was kind of excited and happy to be there, but this year I really want to get into the finals and hopefully get on the podium in both events.”

“This year I’ve definitely been healthy and it’s obviously showing with better times.”

At Knoxville Friday, Foley finished third in the 3200-meter run with a time of 10:06.43 to better the state-qualifying standard (10:08) and second in the 1600-meter run with a time 4:37.29, just edging Cooper Hoffmann of Elmwood-Brimfield (4:37.30).

Foley enters the state meet with the 16th-best sectional time in the 3200 and 14th-best time in the 1600. He runs the 1600 prelims Thursday and the 3200 is contested in two heats Saturday.

“Thursday I’ll be able to just focus on the 1600 and that will be a big help. Hopefully I’ll PR there and get in the finals,” Foley said.

“I hope to be in the faster heat (in Saturday’s 3200) because just being able to compete with those top guys will make me faster.”

If all goes well in Thursday’s 1600 prelims, Foley will have both distance races on his plate Saturday

“I feel like I’ve been training myself all season so I can perform well in both of them,” Foley said.

Sopiars and Foley paced Galva to a sixth-place team finish in the 18-team Knoxville Sectional with 29.5 points. ROWVA-Williamsfield was ninth with 20 points and Ridgewood finished 15th with seven points.


R-W’s Varner advances in jumps

Like Galva’s Foley, ROWVA-Williamsfield junior Jacob Varner will be competing in two events at the state meet.

He finished second in the long jump at the Knoxville Sectional Friday with a leap of 20-5 1/4 and third in the triple jump with an effort of 41-8 1/2, which bettered the state-qualifying standard of 41-2.

Varner competes in the prelims of both events Thursday in Charleston.