CHARLESTON — Jameson Cluver and Isaiah Chatman each recorded the best time in their respective events at Class 1A sectional boys’ track and field meets last week.

Cluver, a Watseka senior, rated first among the 400-meter dash runners ahead of Thursday’s IHSA state meet at Eastern Illinois’ O’Brien Stadium. Chatman, a Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley junior, pulled off the same feat in the 300 hurdles.

Cluver and Chatman backed up their sectional seed times to top their respective events.

Cluver was the only competitor to break 50 seconds in the 400, turning in a time of 49.89 as the Warriors’ first state champion since 1987.

“My coach kind of told me, ‘Relax. Don’t try to go in too fast. Just try to do me,’” Cluver said. “So that’s what I did.”

Cluver admitted he didn’t get off to the best start in a race that features little room for error.

“I kind of got off a little slow, and the 150 mark I had to play the catch-up game,” Cluver said. “But I think I ended up really strong.”

Adopted as an orphan out of Haiti at a young age, Cluver dazzled spectators back in 2019 when he closed the 1A meet by passing multiple opponents late in the anchor leg of Watseka’s 1,600 relay. He helped the Warriors to 14th place in that event on Thursday as well.

“I really missed this feeling and missed being out here and having the crowd kind of cheer me on,” Cluver said. “Just me being here was just a lot for me and my family, and it’s going to be very emotional whenever I see them.”

Chatman’s Falcons family should have had a bigger say in the 1A team trophy chase. But juniors Aidan Laughery and Awstace Grauer were scratched from the 100 and 400, respectively, because of injury, and GCMS’s 400 relay also was scratched as a result.

So Chatman was alone on the track representing his school.

But only on the track.

“They’re all here. They came to support,” Chatman said. “Gives me more time to focus on my two events, in the least selfish way.”

Chatman rebounded from a rough 110 hurdles race to win the 300 hurdles in 39.11. He’s the Falcons’ first state champion since Nick Schultz won the 2016 1A high jump competition.

“It was very important, because we had six people seeded in the top one or two (heats),” Chatman said. “So just to be able to bring home something for the school, for the team, (it) means a lot.”

Chatman certainly wasn’t pleased by taking 16th in the 110 hurdles despite racing in the last heat. Yet he didn’t let that spoil a state outing that also represented his injured friends.

“It took a while,” Chatman said. “But I sat in the locker room and tried to put that behind me. Control what I can control and move on to the next race.”

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