The Highland track and field Bulldogs finished second out of three teams in its first outdoor road meet of the season March 22 at Mascoutah. The host Indians dominated on its home ground with 107 team points. Highland, which competed without elite state sprinter Tyler Higgins, edged Jerseyville, 34-32, for the runner-up position.
Senior Jacob Plocher was the best Bulldog of the day and one of the overall workhorses of the meet. He not only ran in the sport’s three longest races, but he earned a podium-worthy finish in the trio of distance races.
Plocher, who qualified for the Class 2A state meet last spring in the 3,200 meters, captured the crown in the sport’s longest and most grueling event at Mascoutah with an eight-lap time of 10 minutes, 14 seconds.
Plocher also earned second place in the 1,600 with a four-lap time of 4:54 and took third in the 800 with a two-lap time of 2:17.
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“Jacob asked for a workout so we took it race by race, and he could have removed himself from any of the races, but he said he felt good,” Highland coach Bob Vance said. “It wasn’t the original plan, but because he didn’t make the Top Times (indoor) meet we decided to give it a go. Alex Cranick did the same thing a few years ago.”
While Plocher was the star Bulldog of the meet, Vance was very proud of his team as a whole.
“We had 27 personal bests, plus six outdoor bests,” Vance said. “Our relays had their best times of the year.”
Three of Highland’s four relay teams secured second-place finishes and posted their best finishes of the season.
HHS’ 4 x 100-meter relay team of junior Mason Geiger (11.9), Wolf (11.4), junior Chase DeProw (11.1) and senior Grant Thole (11.3) teamed up for the strong runner-up time of 45.7 seconds.
Also for the Bulldogs, the 4 x 400 quartet of sophomore Ben Wille (56.8), Wolf (58.1), senior Bryce Sexton (56.2) and Thole (58.8) joined forces for the second-best time of 3:49, while the 4 x 800 squad of Sexton (2:14), Wille (2:14), sophomore Isaac Jones (2:16) and sophomore Wes McMillen (2:17) posted the second fastest time at 9:03.
In addition, Wolf also merited a second-place finish in the pole vault (10-0) and third place in the open 100-meter dash (11.5).
Also netting top-four finishes for Highland were: sophomore Sam LaPorta, third place in both the shot put (40-8.75) and the discus (108-11); junior Deakon Thornton, third place in the pole vault (9-6); freshman Connor Sands, third place in the triple jump (37.5.75); junior Mason Geiger, fourth place in the long jump (18.1); junior Gavin Ware, fourth place in the 1,600 (5:12); freshman Nick Hanratty, fourth place in the 3,200 (11:13); freshman Austin Roach, fourth place in the 110 hurdles (19.2).
“Nick Hanratty dropped 17 seconds in the 3,200, and Gavin Ware dropped 14 seconds in the 1,600,” Vance said. “One of our hardest workers on the team, junior Cameron Donahue, had personal bests in the 100, 200, and 400. He deserves a lot of credit for always working to be the best he can be. That’s what we are trying to get every guy on the team to see and do.”