CAMP POINT, Ill. -- The Central boys track and field team haven't gotten the full weekend experience at the Class 1A state meet.
The 4x200-meter relay team hopes to change that.
"We've packed our clothes for Saturday, and we haven't gotten to wear them," Central senior Chayse Houston said. "We don't pack them just to not wear them. (Getting to Saturday) is the goal."
Bringing back a couple medals would be the perfect ending to an extended weekend. The margin of error is slim to do that, especially in the 4x200 relay.
Central's team of Houston, Brandon Rossmiller, Levi Hecox and Aveory Lamanske are the No. 4 seed at 1 minute, 31.78 seconds in the 4x200 at this weekend's state meet at O'Brien Stadium on the Eastern Illinois University campus. The three schools above the Panthers -- St. Joseph-Ogden, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley and Maroa-Forsyth are separated by .78 seconds.
Four schools seeded below Central -- DuQuoin, Forreston, Pana and Belleville Althoff -- are only separated by .54 seconds.
A half-second could be the difference between a state title or no medal at all.
"It means we can't mess up," Rossmiller said. "Every split-second counts. I think we're expecting fourth or better because even at sectionals we didn't have the best handoffs."
Those handoffs could be the decider. The Panthers have focused on being more aggressive with the handoffs in practice leading up to state.
"We have to be solid on those handoffs," Central coach Brad Dixon said. "The more efficient and the less the baton has to slow down either going out or coming in, the faster we can run. We've got some fast guys individually, but it's all about how much time we can gain in the handoffs."
Three smooth handoffs could lead Central to the finals and possibly a medal. The Panthers know the margin is slim.
"We have to do everything the way they're supposed to be," Houston said. "If not, there's a chance another team could do that. A second is a lot of time in track and it could be the difference between a state title or not even placing at all."
Central isn't planning on the latter happening.
"That's what is awesome about track," Dixon said. "You have to run your best in this race."
The same foursome will also run in the 4x100 relay. The Panthers are seeded eighth at 43.74, but are only separated by .63 seconds from top-seeded Pana. Eleven teams total are all seeded in 43 seconds.
"It does make you a little nervous," Rossmiller said. "But we've had a lot of fun this year, and that's the most important thing."
Houston will also compete in the 110 hurdles and the triple jump.