The Highland High School boys track and field team finished third out of five teams at Friday's Granite City Warrior Relays.
Alton won the team championship after edging out host Granite City 138 to 132. Highland wound up third with 113 points.
Rounding out the five-team event were Madison and Jennings. Alton Marquette and East St. Louis Charter were scheduled but unable to attend.
"I thought we had an outside chance to win it again, even though Alton and Granite City had defeated us soundly in the Madison County meet earlier in the week (Tuesday, April 24)," Highland coach Bob Vance said. "We were right with them until Ivan (Orozco) got hurt, and that all but ended our chances to defend the title. All of the field events and the 300 intermediate hurdles were treated like relays with the top three performances of each team added together to get a team score. It gives us a chance to show off our team depth, and we were able to score in all but one event."
Highland won two of the events, the 4 x 800-meter relay and the pole vault relay.
The pole vault relay team of Deakon Thornton (10 feet, 6 inches), Austin Roach (10-6), Kain Thornton (9-6) and Bryce Kirsch established a new meet record of 30 feet, 6 inches, while the 4 x 800 relay team of Nick Hanratty (2:12), Easton Rosen (2:11.7), Gabe Sherrill (2:17.7) and Brylee Portell (2:15) won their event after cruising to a winning team time of 8:56.14.
It looked like the Bulldogs were on their way to a third event win in the 4 x 100 relay, which would have been a major upset. Highland was seeded third behind Alton and Madison, but after strong legs by Mason Geiger and Seby Wolf, the Bulldogs appeared to be heading for the title of the event. Ivan Orozco was adding to Highland's lead with his third leg of the race when disaster struck in the form of a hamstring injury. The Bulldogs were unable to finish the race, and it cost the team 10 points in the overall scoring.
"We looked the best we had all year in that relay, and my guess is that our time would have been in the low 43s, which is a state-qualifying time," Vance said. "Worse than losing the race, though, is the probability of losing Ivan for the rest of the season. He's been a mainstay on that relay for the past two years, and the leg injury may have ended his high school career. It's unfortunate for a guy who has come a long way."
Vance said some of the younger guys are ready to step in to fill spots if they are needed.
"We'll pick up the pieces, though, as we have Mason, Seby, Noah Schmitt and Chase DeProw," he said. Along with Orozco, those four have parts of the sprint relay teams over the last couple of years.
The Bulldogs recovered from the injury to Orozco to place second in four events, third in six events and fourth in five more.
"It was a solid team effort," Vance said. "We probably squeezed out about as much as we could from this team. We probably gave away points we could have earned in only a couple of events and we were able to use all of our athletes. That's what you have to have in a meet like this."
Seby Wolf sprinted to a second-place finish in the 100-meter dash (11.2 seconds), which was one of only two events not scored as relays.
Also securing second-place finishes for Highland were the shot put team, the 4 x 1,600 relay team and the shuttle hurdle relay team.
The members of Highland's shot put team were Kyle Lane (36-3), Trevor Zobrist (33-9), Isaac Winter (31-11) and Kaiden Miles (30-11). Winter and Miles both had personal bests.
The 4 x 1,600 relay team consisted of Nick Hanratty (4:50), Easton Rosen (4:57.4), Josh Loeh (4:55.5), and Gabe Sherrill (5:07.8). Loeh had a personal best and broke the 5-minute barrier, and Sherrill posted his best time of the year.
The shuttle hurdle relay team was made up of Schmitt (19.0), Connor Sands (22.2), Brylee Portell (18.5) and Roach (16.3). Sands volunteered to run when one of Highland’s athletes was unable to attend due to illness.
Also placing for the Bulldogs were:
- the freshman/sophomore 4 x 200 relay team of Cole Kuzma (26.1), Kaleb Blunt (24.0), Kain Thornton (24.6), and Ethan Leftwich (24.8), third place with a season-best time of 1:39.3;
- the discus team of Zobrist (86-2), Lane (66-8), Evan Clarkin (PR mark of 66-0), and Parker Fensterman (PR mark of 64-6), third place;
- the varsity 4 x 200 relay team of Geiger (24.0), Wolf (23.0), Kuzma (23.2) and Schmitt (24.2), third place 1:34.4);
- the 300 hurdle relay team of Portell (45.0), Owen Kobbeman (PR time of 56.4) and Winter (58.5), third place;
- the freshman/sophomore 4 x 400 relay team of Kaleb Blunt (60.6), Brennan Austin (63.8), Jack Geiger (65.2) and Jack Beiermann (60.3), third place;
- Kobbeman, third place in the 1,600 (PR time of 5:33.7);
- the varsity 4 x 400 relay team of Deakon Thornton (61.6), Hanratty (59.8), Jeffrey Blunt (62.5), and Sherrill (60.9), fourth place;
- The high jump team of Portell (5-2), Kain Thornton (5-2), Sands (5-4) and Kuzma, fourth place;
- the sprint medley relay team of Jacob Maas (25.7 in the 200), Cameron Donahue (28.7 in the 200), Jeffrey Blun (64.1 in the 400) and Hanratty (2:14.6 in the 800), fourth place;
- the triple jump team of Roach (season-best mark of 36-11.5), Schmitt (35-0.5), Rosen (season-best mark of 31-4) and Sands;
- Cole Goodall, fourth place in the 1,600 with a 5:46.8;
- the long jump team of Kuzma (16-5.5), Geiger, Leftwich and Sands, fifth place on the strength of Kuzma's jumps as the other three were unable to get legal jumps completed; and
- and Lane, seventh place in the 100 (12.14).
Madison County Championships
The Highland boys and girls track and field teams were good hosts of the large school division of the Madison County Championships on Tuesday, April 24, but it was the Edwardsville Tigers who were crowned the champions again.
"I want to congratulate our boys and girls track teams on their great efforts yesterday hosting the Madison County track meet," Highland athletic director Caleb Houchins said. "Not only did they perform well in competition, but they helped Coach (Bob) Vance and Coach (Doug) Bradley run a great meet. Thanks to all of the volunteers as well. It was a great day."
Edwardsville held off strong challenges from Alton and swept to the championships of Tuesday’s Madison County Large School Track Meet at Highland for the 10th consecutive year. The Edwardsville boys captured their 10th consecutive county championship, scoring 167.5 points while the second-place Redbirds were right on their heels with 154.5 points.
The Edwardsville girls also won the team title again — for the 18 straight season — to make it a sweep for both Tiger programs for the 10th consecutive year.
Rounding out the boys county meet were Collinsville (146.5), Collinsville (102), Granite City (68) and host Highland (46.5).
Outside of the champions in each event, the top five placers received medals while the top eight finishers received points in their respective event for their respective teams.
Highland's best finishes were third-place medals.
Wolf scored two of the Bulldogs' best finishes with a third place in the 200-meter dash (23.41 seconds) and a fourth place in the 100-meter dash (11.70 seconds).
Bryce Kirsch earned third place in the pole vault after clearing the bar at a height of 11 feet-even.
Also, Highland's 4 x 800-meter relay team of Hanratty, Josh Loeh, Rosen and Portell finished third with a team time of 8:50.12.
Also scoring points for Highland by placing in the top eight in their respective event were:
- Hanratty, fifth place in the 1,600 (4:47.11);
- the 4 x 100 relay team of Geiger, Wolf, Lane and Schmitt, fifth place (44.85);
- Sands, sixth place in the triple jump (37-7)'
- Roach, sixth place in the 110 high hurdles (17.96);
- Portell, sixth place in the 300 intermediate hurdles (45.60);
- the 4 x 400 relay team of Schitt, Loeh, Rosen and Geiger, sixth place (3"50.82; and
- Loeh, eighth place in the 800 (2:10.23).