Although he didn’t win the 3,200 meters at the Class 3A Niles West Sectional, Loyola’s Spencer Werner generated a lot of buzz last week. He clocked 9 minutes, 18.74 seconds to take third place, earning him a an appearance at the state meet. 

None of that is unusual. Except that Werner is a freshman and one of two who qualified for the state meet in the event, which will take place Saturday at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. No freshmen ran at the state meet last season. 

“I had coaches come up to me after the race to tell me how impressed they are by him,” Loyola head coach Dan Seeberg said. “He’s a special runner.” 

Werner had the 10th-best time at sectionals and is looking to become the first freshman to earn a state medal in the 3,200 since 2014. The last Loyola runner to qualify for the event was Paolo Tiongson in 2015. 

Senior sprinter Jack Loveland and junior Kieran Thompson also are seeking to make program history this weekend. Loveland is entered in the 400 after winning a sectional title, while Thompson will compete in the high jump. 

Loveland tied for the fifth-fastest time at sectionals at 49.30. Loyola’s best finish in the event came in 2009 when Dylan Remick (Class of 2009) took eighth in 49.27. No Rambler has earned a state medal in the high jump. Thompson’s 6-3 is tied for seventh. 

The Class 3A state meet runs Friday through Saturday.