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CHARLESTON -- Few things could stop Dionte and Diondre Lewis in the Class 1A state final preliminary round Thursday.

The Warrensburg-Latham twins each advanced to the finals in the 100-meter dash, 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays.

But, Diondre knows the 4x400 team needs to improve entering Saturday after seemingly hitting a plateau at 3:30.68.

“We got 3:30, which is the same time we did earlier in the season, so we haven't gotten better," Diondre said.

He knows exactly what the Cardinals need to do to reach a school record of 3:28 -- which was their goal entering Thursday.

“Push ourselves harder."

Each Lewis ran four events Thursday, and Dionte is hoping fewer events Saturday will lead to more energy and a better time in the 4x400.

He was scheduled to also run the 200-meter dash, but withdrew to turn his focus to the 4x4 team.

Diondre won first in the 100-meter dash, Dionte took third and both were on the 4x1 team that finished second in its heat to advance. 

Dionte wasn't happy with his 100-meter time of 11.02. He has nowhere to go but up, he said.

"I ran terrible," Dionte said. "It was the slowest I've ran all year."

Neither Lewis brother advanced in the 400-meter dash, where Diondre finished sixth in Class 1A last season.

His goal was less on himself, and more on advancing the 4x400 team, even if it means more pressure.

"I have to push myself because I don't want to let anyone down," Diondre said. "In my individuals, I don't really care. It will be my own fault that I don't make it."

Neither brother planned on running the 4x100 this season after losing seniors Brian Evans and Jadien Evans from last season's second-place team.

But after seeing the work of Jarius Ingram and Mitchell Leathers early in the season, they decided to jump back in the mix.

Their decision is already paying dividends.

Lopez finally in finals

A summer's worth of training with his older brothers paid off for Tuscola's Joey Lopez.

For the first time in his career, the senior advanced to Saturday's finals -- in the 400 and on the 4x400 relay team which won its heat.

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He dropped between four and five seconds off his time between last season and this season, thanks largely to his work over the summer.

Despite back discomfort that somewhat lingered to the relay, Lopez ran a 51.21 in the 400.

He needed every bit of energy as the anchor leg of the relay to chase down John Fisher of Kewanee Wethersfield.

Trailing when he got the baton, Lopez stayed focused to catch Fisher, even with the pain returning to his back.

“I don't think much," Lopez said. "I just think I've got to beat this guy. The team's relying on me.”

Not focused on himself

The last thing on Logan Hall's mind during the 1,600 was himself.

He's learned to not focus on himself during races, but instead, the Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond junior focuses on the body language of other runners.

It started in cross country this season, after he read online about looking for the small signs of fatigue in the competition. 

“It's not yourself and how you're feeling, don't think about it," Hall said.  "It's about the other guys and look how they're feeling, whether their form breaks off.

He looks for tell-tale signs.

"They start clinching up in the shoulders and tense up. You've got to stay relaxed during the race.”

The mindset paid off for the junior, winning his heat in the 1,600 in 4:22.92 to advance to Saturday's finals where he finished fifth last season. He will also run in the 3,200 where he looks to build on his second-place finish and has eyes on Jon Davis of Oakwood Fithian and his Class 1A state record of 9:05.23 set in 2015.

Hall, Jacob Bryan of Illini West and Chris Ahlers of Sterling Newman were lumped together before Hall found another gear to break away on the final straight-away.

“I knew I'd have that," Hall said. "I've ran 4:20 this year multiple times. All the training I've done and the tough workouts I've made it through just gives me confidence with my speed.”

Tough competition in pole vault

Five pole vaulters from the area advanced to Saturday's finals, including reigning Class 1A state champion Curtis Gordon of Vandalia.

Gordon is joined by teammate Zane Steele.

The Tuscola duo of Josiah Lemay and Hunter Kauffman each advanced along with Tim Moore of Altamont and Andrew McWhorter of Teutopolis who took fifth last season.

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Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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