MT. VERNON — Robert Grider and Joseph McDanel are both preparing for the boys track and field state final.
Earlier this week the duo signed with Rend Lake College and will continue their careers at the collegiate level next season.
"It's good that you can use your talents, and in the world of track it's tough to get into the college level,” Mt. Vernon coach Clint Turner said.
McDanel is now a two-time state finalist in the pole vault. He leaped 14 feet, 6 inches at the Herrin sectional and placed second in the event to qualify for next week's state event. The sectional mark matched his personal best in the event.
A season ago McDanel was the lone member of the Rams track and field squad to advance to the final day of the 2A state final. He finished ninth overall.
“It's a major blessing because I know like five other guys that are going to be going to Rend Lake and all of us are close together,” McDanel said.
The pole vaulter has battled injuries over the past two seasons but said he is feeling fresh at this time in the season.
“At this point, I feel pretty recovered,” McDanel said. “I'm still having slight back pains, but besides that it's going pretty well.”
Grider will compete in a trio of events at state. He qualified in the 200 meters and is a member of two relay teams for the Rams. Grider's senior season includes breaking the school record in the 200 meters in a meet earlier this season at home. He also tied the 100 meter mark in the same meet.
“First of all, it's awesome,” Grider said. “I never thought I could be a college athlete, and that's a big deal,” Grider said. “Especially with Rend Lake having the history they've had in track. They're pretty recognized for being successful.”