Highland senior Tyler Higgins’ weekend at the IHSA Class2A Boys State Track and Field Meet at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston got off to a strong start, but another injury to his hamstring derailed the finish he had hoped for.
Higgins continued to look strong in his 200-meter preliminary race Friday, easily qualifying for Saturday’s finals after flashing to the finish in 22.19 seconds, which was just .03 of a second behind the heat winner, Najee Sylvester of Hillcrest. Higgins’ time put him as the third-fastest in the prelims and left him in good position for the finals Saturday.
But for Higgins, the ending was not what he had hoped for in Saturday’s finals. With about 50 meters to the finish line, he felt his right hamstring pull again, like it did back in March, and he went down. He was able to get back up and finish the race to earn the ninth-place medal.
“It was disappointing for him, because he had worked hard to get back, and he had hopes of salvaging more from the season that had been so disappointing due to the injury,” Highland veteran coach Bob Vance said. “There were other guys who went down with injury. It’s just something that happens. Cahokia’s Chris Stanley had the same thing happen to him, and it probably cost the Comanches another state title.
“It doesn’t take anything from all that Tyler has accomplished.”
Higgins still captured the 400 state title as a sophomore, set three school records (100, 200 and 400), won seven sectional titles, and has an appointment to West Point.
“Athletes like Tyler come along once in a lifetime,” Vance said. “As a coach, it is a humbling experience to be given that opportunity to work with such a talented individual.”
Vance said senior Jacob Plocher had a great race plan and finished off his career with a personal best of 9:58.44 in the 3,200.
“Jacob’s time was good for sixth in his heat and 18th place overall.
“He probably got about as much out of his body as he could,” Vance said. “He came such a long way over the last two years and to qualify for state twice. He’s been a tremendous example for our other distance runners and all of our track athletes in regard to commitment to your sport. Nobody worked harder to get to where he did. I think he will be an even better collegiate runner.”
The all-junior 4 x 100 relay team got off to a good start in Friday’s prelims with Mason Geiger handing off to Sebastian Wolf in good fashion. Wolf’s exchange with fellow junior Ivan Orozco put the unit in good position heading into the final leg. That’s when disaster struck, as Orozco and Chase DeProw were unable to complete the final exchange within the 20-meter exchange zone, and the team was, therefore, disqualified.
“These guys are risk takers,” Vance said. “That’s why they were able to knock off so much time in the last two weeks and qualify for state. But when you take risks, there is always a chance for mishap, and unfortunately, that’s what happened. They still have a great chance to break the school records in both the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relays next year.”
On Friday in the pole vault, Wolf had three good attempts at 12 feet, a height he has never made. He came very close all three times, but just bumped the bar enough to knock it off.