The Highland High School boys track and field team finished in the middle of a home triangular meet at HHS on March 28. Breese Central won the meet with a winning team score of 92 points. The Bulldogs finished second with 56 points to beat Wesclin (38) by 18 points for second-place honors.
“First off, Central has a really good track team,” Highland coach Bob Vance. “They are doing a good job over there with that program. Their kids stepped up and helped with setting up and removing hurdles during the meet as well. I was happy with our effort. We continue to make solid strides, improving from meet to meet. I counted 37 personal bests and another 25 that had their best performance of the season but haven’t quite reached their personal record. We talk all the time about trying to be the best we can be. We can’t control what the other teams do. We just have to try to improve our own performances.”
Highland logged five individual event victories, with two coming in the distance races, two in relay races, and another in the pole vault.
Junior Sebastian Wolf cleared a season-best height of 11 feet 6 inches to capture the championship in the pole vault.
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“Seby had his best day in the pole vault, reaching 11-6, which was just an inch off what he did at the sectional last year,” Vance said. “We dusted off a pole he hadn’t been using and his confidence seemed to go up once he started using it. We think 12 feet and up are just a matter of time.”
Senior Jacob Plocher garnered the gold-medal finish in the 1,600 meters with an impressive four-lap time of 4:47.4, while freshman Brylee Portell was the most durable in the 3,200 after winning it with a personal-record time of 11:16.6.
Portell also earned third place in the high jump after clearing the bar at 5-feet.
In addition, senior Shane Yetter finished second in the 3,200 at 11:46.0 and junior Gavin Ware wound up third in the 1,600 with a PR time of 5:09.2.
“Freshman Brylee Portell knocked about 10 seconds off his 3,200 time and he ran most of the race by himself which is hard to do, especially for an inexperienced runner,” Vance said. “We are excited about the progress our distance crew is making. Obviously, Jacob Plocher leads the way, but the other guys — Portell, Ware, Nick Hanratty, Shane Yetter, Gabe Sherrill, and Brendan Schrage — have all been getting faster from race to race. Sometimes I think they have even surprised themselves with the times they’ve hit.”
The Bulldogs were the best on the day in both the 4 x 200 and 4 x 800 relays.
Highland’s all-junior 4 x 200 team of Mason Geiger (24.2), Wolf (24.3), Chase DeProw (23.1) and Ivan Orozco (24.6) joined forces to post a winning team time of 1:36.2.
“Our sprint relay teams are starting to figure things out,” Vance said. “We’ve knocked more than a second off the 4 x 100 relay times so far down to 45.1, and the 4 x 200 has dropped over two seconds outdoors and four seconds from indoors down to 1:36.2. This time we used Mason Geiger, Seby, Wolf, Chase DeProw, and Ivan Orozco, but we could easily insert Noah Schmitt or Grant Thole into those units and not lose a step. We’ve got some good competition going on there.”
The Bulldogs’ winning 4 x 800 quartet of senior Bryce Sexton (2:10.3), senior Jacob Plocher (2:13.4), sophomore Ben Wille (2:15.3) and sophomore Wes McMillen (2:15.8) posted the first-place team time of 8:54.8.
Sophomore Sam LaPorta had a big all-around day. He first posted a second-place finish in the discus with a PR mark of 128 feet, 10 inches. LaPorta also finished fourth in the shot put (39-1.5) and fourth in the 110 high hurdles (18.2).
Other Highland athletes who placed in the top four positions in an individual event were: Wille, second place in the 800 (2:13)’ the 4 x 100 team of Geiger (11.5), Wolf (10.8), DeProw (11.3) and Orozco (11.5), second place (45.1); the 4 x 400 squad of Geiger (58.0), DeProw (1:03.7), Wolf (57.6) and Wille (56.2), second place (3:55.5); DeProw, third place in the 100 (12.3); junior Seth Schwappach, third place in the 400 (59.7); freshman Connor Sands, third place in the triple jump (36-10.5); junior Deakon Thornton, fourth place in the pole vault (9-0); sophomore Isaac Jones, fourth place in the 800 (2:18.1); junior Noah Schmitt, fourth place in the 300 hurdles (48.4); and freshman Blake McCaw, fourth place in the high jump (4-10).
On Saturday at the Greenville Invitational, Plocher posted Highland’s best finishes after taking fourth place in the 3,200 (10:05.93) and sixth in the 1,600 (4:47.77).
The Bulldogs’ 4 x 200 and 4 x 800 relay teams also posted top-five finishes.
The 4 x 200 quartet of Schmitt, Wolf, DeProw and Orozco earned fifth place with a team time of 1:36.76.
The 4 x 800 unit of Sexton (2:07.715), Wille (2:10.963), Jones (2:19.006) and senior Brendan Schrage (2:17.004) grabbed a top-five finish after finishing with a combined time of 8:54.69.
Also placing for Highland at Greenville were: the 4 x 400 team of Wille, Wolf, Jones and Sexton, sixth place (3:40.9); Wolf, seventh place in the pole vault (11-6); Sands, seventh place in the triple jump (36-6); the 4 x 100 relay team of Schmitt, Wolf, DeProw and Orozco, seventh place (46.45);