Boys Track and Field: Hall relays faster than the rest

Hall junior Marshall Walk roars with victory as he anchored the Hall 400 relay team to a Class 1A state championship Saturday at the IHSA State Meet at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. Steven Brust, Devin Soldati, Anthony Buchanan and Walk finished the 400 in 42.74 and they won the 800 relay in 1:29.49.

CHARLESTON — The Hall 400 and 800 relay teams weren’t fast at the boys track and field IHSA State Meet finals Saturday at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

The Red Devils were the fastest.

Seniors Steven Brust, Devin Soldati and Anthony Buchanan and junior Marshall Walk won two Class 1A state championships as the 400 relay clocked in at 42.74 and the 800 relay crossed the finish line in at 1:29.49.

Both times are school records, while the 400 time of 42.74 is a Bureau County record and a NewsTribune record beating the 2005 Princeton team’s time of 43.1.

“It’s what I’ve been doing for the past two years,” said Brust about starting both relays. “They trust me to go first, get the lead and then let everyone else take it from there.

“It’s crazy to win. We were ranked really low last year and then we ended up fifth (400 relay) and eighth (800 relay). We were ranked fourth in both relays heading into state and we went into finals No. 1 in both of them.”

Soldati joined the Hall track team for the first time this season after playing baseball for his first three years at Hall.

After winning the Class 2A state championship on the baseball field last spring, he was ecstatic to join the track program and have the opportunity to bring home more gold.

“It’s surreal. Winning breeds winning,” Soldati said. “I learned how to win with the baseball team. We won a state championship and I carried it over to track. I had a great group of guys to do it with.

“Not having a lot of time to practice handoffs, it was really just a lot of being athletes and winging it. Everything fell in place perfectly. We accomplished what we came out here to accomplish.”

For most of the season, senior Ethan Cattani was in both the 400 and 800 Hall relays. However, a hamstring injury took him off of the track before sectionals.

Soldati stepped in for Cattani in the 400 relay, while Buchanan was the 800 relay replacement.

“This was our goal from the start,” Buchanan said. “It didn’t seem reachable. As we worked hard through the season, it became reachable and now we’re here. The best feeling you can have is meeting the goal you set out for, executing and getting the job done.

“The practices between sectionals and state were all about handoffs — handoffs, handoffs, handoffs. We were trying to take a little bit of time off. I think it showed out here. We got our steps down. And, we were able to work with Devin and running the 400 because he had never done it before.

“Everything fell into place in a short amount of time.”

The 800 relay at state was bittersweet for each of the Red Devils, as they won state championships (plural), but they won’t take the track together again.

For Walk, it’s tough because he will be back for one more campaign in a Hall jersey without Brust, Soldati and Buchanan.

“It’s really emotional. It’s emotional because that is the last race I’ll get to run with them,” Walk said. “It’s setting in. But, I couldn’t ask for a better way to finish the season. Winning state in both relays is an amazing feeling. Everyone put in everything they had. It just feels amazing to accomplish that.”

Walk won three medals on Saturday as he finished ninth in the 100-meter run with a time of 11.17.

“I came into the 100 wanting to run a 10 (seconds),” Walk said. “I ended up having the best start of my career so far in the 100. I was in the lead for about 40 meters and then I just couldn’t keep the stride going and I ended up dying out a little bit. I can’t be mad about ninth place. I got a medal and I was the ninth fastest in the state.”

Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or sports@newstrib.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.

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