Highland senior Brode Portell brought home a coveted first-place medal when he was crowned the conference champion in the 800-meter run at the Mississippi Valley Conference Championships Wednesday at Civic Memorial High School in Bethalto.
Portell ran a solid two-lap time of 2:00.10 to best his closest competitors by about 4 seconds, as Jake Schwartz of Waterloo posted the runner-up time of 2:04.06 and Portell’s Highland teammate Bryce Sexton, a junior, crossed the finish line in third place at 2:04.37.
“It was one of my goals to win county and conference in the 800,” said Portell, who took the 800 title at the Madison County Championships at Edwardsville on April 28. “Conference was different because I normally stay with the pack and rely on my kick the last lap, but this time I wanted to separate myself from the group early. So, I ended up leading pretty comfortably throughout the race and I was more focused on getting my time down for the sectional.”
Portell’s goal is to qualify for state in the 800 when Highland competes at the IHSA Class 2A Springfield Lanphier Sectional on Friday, May 20. The IHSA Boys Track and Field State Finals for all three classes will be held May 26-28 at O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
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“I’ve been focused on preparing myself all season. I like my chances to qualify for state but it won’t be easy,” he said. “Being able to run with some of the best runners around in the big meets has given me confidence. I also like our chances to qualify some of our relays such as the 4 x 400 and 4 x 800. It should be an exciting finish to the season!”
Securing strong second-place finishes for the Bulldogs were juniors Tyler Higgins, the reigning Class 2A state champion in the 400, and Evan Capelle.
Higgins’ time of 11.18 seconds bested the field with the exception of the winning time of 10.79 posted by Triad senior Adam Nelson, a DePaul University recruit.
Capelle garnered the second-place medal in the high jump after clearing the bar at 6 feet, 1 inch, which matched the winning height of champion Austin Kimbrel of Jerseyville, but Kimbrel did so on less attempts.
Also placing in the top six in a respective individual event for Highland were: senior Sam Teipe, third place in the long jump (19-9.50); junior Jacob Plocher, third in the 3,200 (10:20.32); Joe Gallo, fifth in the 1,600 (5:11.72); and freshman Sam LaPorta, sixth in the discus (119-0).
As a team, the Bulldogs finished in fourth place in the six-team conference standings.
Waterloo earned the team title after ringing up 187 points, which was 23 points more than second-place Mascoutah (164).
Placing further back in positions 3-6 were as follows: Triad (117), Highland (72), Jerseyville (62) and Civic Memorial (13).