The Highland High School boys track and field team edged out Waterloo, 90 to 87, for the team title of a quadrangular meet at HHS on Wednesday of last week.
Freeburg finished in a distant third place with 58 team points, and Mater Dei rounded out the meet with 36 points.
Then on Saturday, Highland finished 16th out of 26 teams at the Norm Armstrong/Belleville West Boys Track and Field Invitational, which is one of southern Illinois’ biggest regular-season meets.
The Bulldogs travel to the Granite City Invitational on Friday, with the start time set for 4 p.m.
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Highland’s freshmen and sophomores compete in the Breese Central Frosh/Soph Invitational on Saturday, while the HHS varsity squad travels to the Roxana Relays on Monday.
The HHS Bulldogs won seven events and finished fifth in five others to nip the WHS Bulldogs by three points.
“We cut that pretty close, but it allowed us to let our varsity jumpers rest their legs (for the Belleville West Invitational),” said Highland coach Bob Vance. “We had 64 season-best performances last night and most of those were all-time bests for those individuals. It was a great effort by the entire team.”
Among its seven event championships, HHS won four individual titles and three relay races. In addition, Highland doubled up in three of the individual events after sweeping the top two finishing positions in the 100-, 200- and 800-meter runs
Leading the way for HHS again was sophomore Tyler Higgins, who was the fastest sprinter of the meet en route to garnering wins in both the 100- and 400-meter dashes.
Higgins flashed to the finish stripe first in the 100 with a time of 10.8 seconds, which was close to his school-record time. However, an 11.01 fixed automated time (FAT) is actually considered better than a 10.8 hand-timed 100.
Higgins breezed to the championship in the 400, covering the one lap in a hasty time of 50.1.
“Tyler Higgins had another strong day,” Vance said. “We had him at 10.8 in the 100 and 50.1 in the 400. He ran in a couple relays as well as we are trying to build up his endurance for later in the season. We’ve got some big meets coming up and it’s going to be interesting to see how we fair against some top-notch competition.”
Also laying claim to individual titles for Highland were seniors Logan Geiger and Trevor White. Geiger was victorious in the 200-meter dash with a winning time of 22.8, eclipsing his cousin, Gage Geiger (22.9), for the title by only .1 of a second. White was triumphant in the 800 with a quality two-lap time of 2:03.
Senior Brendan Sands made it a sweep of the top two spots for Highland in the 100 with the second-best time of 11.2, while junior Hayden Smart helped HHS double up in the 800 with the runner-up time of 2:09.5.
The senior trio of (in the order they ran) Sands, Logan Geiger and Gage Geiger and teamed up with junior Sam Teipe as the anchor to win both the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relay races. In the 4 x 100, Sands (10.9), Logan Geiger (11.2), Gage Geiger (12.0) and Teipe (10.0) laid down a first-place team time of 44.1, which was just .2 of a second off their own school-record time of 43.93.
In the 4 x 200, the quartet of Sands (23.3), Logan Geiger (22.3), Gage Geiger (24.2) and Teipe (22.7) stopped the hand-timed clocks with personal-record time of 1:32.5, which was only .5 of a second off the school record.
“I thought the sprint relay team of Brendan Sands, Logan and Gage Geiger and Sam Teipe took a big step,” Vance said. “In the 4 by 100 they ran 44.1, just a couple of tenths off their school record time of 43.93. We struggled with at least one of the exchanges or they might have reset that mark. Those four came back in the 4 by 200 and ran their fastest time ever of 1:32.5. They are just a half-second off the school record in that relay. I think it will go down soon the way they are coming together as a unit.”
Higgins, White and Smart joined forces with senior Grant Riggs to take the team title in the 4 x 400 relay race. Smart (52.4), Riggs (53.5), White (52.4) and Higgins (50.7) teamed up to post a winning time of 3:28.9.
Also securing placements for Highland, in addition to the three seconds listed above, were: junior Austin Bush, second place in the shot put (41 feet, 5.75 inches); freshman Mason Geiger, second in the pole vault (7-6); senior Zach Chapman, third in the discus (115-3.5 and fifth in the shot put (34-3); senior Ben Menke, third in the 400 (54.8); senior Trevor Langhauser, third in the 110 high hurdles (19.4) and fourth in the 300 intermediate hurdles (47.5); senior Logan Kharibian, third in the 110 high hurdles (20.1) and fourth in the 300 intermediate hurdles (47.1); freshman Sebastian Wolf, third in the pole vault (7-6); the 4 x 800 team of Menke (2:15.4), sophomore Bryce Sexton (2:22.1), junior Brode Portell (2:18.0) and sophomore Brock Schrage (2:30.1), third place (9:25.6); freshman Noah Schmitt, fourth in the triple jump (31-11); Sexton, tie for fourth in the high jump (4-10); senior Nick Czar, fifth in the discus (96-2); freshman Ivan Orozco, fifth in the long jump (16-3); and sophomore Brendan Schrage, fifth in the 3,200 (11:20.6).
Belleville West Invitational
Highland placed in the top three in two individual events to score 14 team points, which was good enough to tie Waterloo for 16th place and beat out 10 competing teams in the 26-team field, including Mississippi Valley Conference rivals Mascoutah (20th place, 12 team points) and Triad (22nd place, 10 team points).
Higgins earned the Bulldogs’ best finish as he galloped to a second-place medal out of 38 competitors in the 400 with a new school-record time of 48.87 seconds, which shattered the previous record by nearly a full second. Higgins’ time fell just .17 of a second shy of O’Fallon senior Demontez McCray’s winning time of 48.70, but it was plenty good enough to eclipse Lance Still’s HHS school-record mark of 49.60 established in 2005.
Highland’s 4 x 800 relay team also scored a finish worthy of the podium after nabbing the third-place medals out of 25 competing squads. The foursome of White (1:58.5), Smart (1:59.3), Menke (2:04.5) and Riggs (2:00.5) collaborated for a time of 8:03.24, which was nearly 10 seconds faster than their previous best time this spring of 8:13.08.
Although the 4 x 200 relay team narrowly missed placing by two positions with a 10th-place finish, the Bulldogs broke the school record in the event with a fixed automated time (FAT) of 1:32.11, which is considered better than the previous hand-timed record of 1:32.0.
Also coming close to scoring points by placing in the top eight were: White, who placed ninth out of 43 runners in the 1,600 with a season personal-best time of 4:37.55; and Higgins, who took 10th of 49 sprinters in the 100 with a time of 11.02.
Coach Vance said Higgins didn’t run poorly in the 100 or 200 (15th place, 22.85), just not up to how he wanted to perform.
“Overall we ran very well,” Vance said. “It was a perfect day to set personal bests and we had a lot of them. Most of our field event guys had their best outdoor performances of the year — Brendan Sands in the triple jump (15th place, 41-8), both Logan Geiger (12th place, 20-8.5) and Sam Teipe (20-2) in the long jump, Austin Bush (41-0.5) and Zach Chapman (39-6.5) in the shot put and Chapman (124-7) again in the discus.
HHS’ freshmen/sophomore 4 x 200 and 4 x 800 relay teams both placed in the top-eight spots in their respective events. The 4 x 200 squad of Grant Thole (25.8), Mason Geiger (23.7), Ivan Orozco (25.5) and Sebastian Wolf (22.7) finished sixth with a team time of 1:37.72, while the 4 x 800 group of Sexton (2:13.9), Capelle (2:13.0), Brock Schrage (2:22.5) and Seth Schwappach (2:25.8) placed eight with a finishing time of 9:15.21.
Vance said his team also had numerous personal records on the track. All of the frosh/soph relays had their best times. In the 3,200, Shane Yetter knocked 17 seconds off his previous best with an eight-lap time of 11:31.47. Both open 800 runners Ben Menke (2:09.21) and Brode Portell (2:10.37) ran their best times and Trevor White had a season record in the 1,600.
“We ran out of gas a little bit at the end of the meet, but we learned a lesson about hydration in the process. Overall though it was a great day,” Vance said.
Cahokia’s Ja’Mari Ward broke two meet records and ran on two meet-winning relays en route to leading the four-time defending Class 2A state champion Comanches to a romp for the team title with 150 total team point, which came within .75 of a point of doubling up runner-up Minooka’s second-place team total of 75.75 points.
Rounding out the top-five finishers in the 26-team field were Edwardsville (74), O’Fallon (51) and host Belleville West (42).
Competing in his first major outdoor meet of the season, Ward, the top-ranked high school athlete in the nation in the long jump and triple jump, wasted little time in putting himself in the meet record book in both events. On his second attempt in the long jump, Ward soared 24-10, which shattered the previous meet mark of 24-0 set by George Gilcrest of Alton in 1970 and currently ranks second in the U.S.
After running a sub-10 second split on the anchor leg of the Comanches’ winning 4 x 100 relay, Ward took even less time to break former Cahokia standout Kali Jackson’s record in the triple jump. On his first and only jump, Ward went 51-11. Jackson had gone 50-0 in 2005.
In addition, he led off Cahokia’s winning 4 x 400 relay with a 48.6 split.