The 400-meter dash might be the hardest event to compete in when it comes to track and field. It’s certainly one of the most draining.
It pushes athletes to the brink, landing in the middle ground between requiring the speed of a dash and the endurance of a distance event.
In order to be successful in the race, an athlete has to be multi-faceted. They can’t be just fast, they can’t be just strong, they can’t win through will alone. They need all of those things.
On Thursday, Orleans sophomore Xavier Alston proved he had all the above.
He paced himself through the race beautifully at the Bloomington North boys’ track and field regional, holding a spot at the back of the field until the final 200 meters when he made his way up to the front to not only advance to the State Finals, but win the regional championship.
“He’s a really special athlete,” Orleans coach John Smith said. “The 400 usually is an upperclassman’s kind of race because of the strength it requires, but he keeps surprising us. His time wasn’t his best today, but the win was pretty strong. He ran it from behind like he does and it was really impressive to watch, it’s really cool. I’m really happy for him.”
For the young Bulldog, there wasn’t much to say. After he crossed the finish line, there was one thing on his mind — where he’s headed:
“I was ready for State.”
Bedford North Lawrence, Paoli send competitors to State
Alston wasn’t the only local athlete to shine at North. From Lawrence County to Orange County, there were others who booked a trip to the State Finals.
Bedford North Lawrence’s Zane Thompson secured a spot at State by finishing second in the 300-meter hurdles. The junior nearly won the event, but a small stumble on the penultimate hurdle forced him to settle for second place.
The Stars nearly got a second athlete out of the regional as Carter Kimmel finished fourth in the discus, just one spot away from qualifying.
The rest of Bedford North Lawrence’s points came courtesy of a pair of relay teams. Cameron Haste, Karter West, Carson Kelly and Jonah Bailey placed eighth in the 3,200-meter relay and the quartet of Christian Garciano-Curren, Cole Baker, Maddex McFarland and Thompson finished seventh in the 400-meter relay.
Outside of Alston’s big win, Orleans scored points when freshman Bryce Jones finished seventh in the 1,600-meter run. He also ran 10th in the 800-meter. Bulldog thrower Nate Graves placed 13th in the shot put.
Paoli had one individual competitor at the meet, but boy did he deliver. Senior Samson Johnson soared to a third-place finish in the long jump with a distance of 20-09.75 to lock himself into a State Finals spot.
Mitchell also had just one individual at the meet, freshman Nate Robertson, and he placed 13th in the discus throw.
Springs Valley crowns first ever regional champ
Springs Valley had a strong showing at the regional. The Blackhawks walked into a field loaded with opponents from big schools and elbowed their way to a third-place finish as a team. Impressively, the only two schools that scored more points than the Blackhawks were Bloomington North and Bloomington South.
The day started out poorly for Springs Valley as Conner Grimes was knocked out of the 100-meter dash prelims on what was called a false start, but things got much, much better from there. Grimes would go on to place second in the 200-meter dash, earning a trip to the State Finals, then finished second in the long jump as well.
The Blackhawks also got points from Alan Marshall in the 800-meter run and got another athlete out of the regional with Elijah Dixon placing second in the high jump. The 400-meter relay team of James Walls, Tyrese Lawrence, Ezra Mills and Conner Grimes finished sixth.
The biggest development for the Blackhawks over the course of the night came near the very end of the meet. As the field for the high jump grew smaller and smaller one of them was the only one left standing.
Kannon Chase took down each and every one of his competitors, reaching a point where he was competing exclusively against the bar and himself. He ultimately finished up at a height of 6-4, earning Springs Valley’s first regional championship in the process.
It was a special moment for the senior in a year that’s been packed with them, but it was also a special moment for the program.
“He’s going to get his picture on the wall. He’s getting himself ready to go to the next level,” Springs Valley coach Derek Freeman said. “When kids walk into that gym, they’ll see that and say, ‘Hey, you know I remember Kannon Chase. He was a heck of a high jumper. I’d like to do that, I can jump, I can dunk a basketball, so why shouldn’t I try that?’
“That’s good for the program because it shows people success. I couldn’t be more proud of the kids and I think this is a huge milestone for our kids and for our program.”
Chase, along with Grimes, Johnson, Thompson and Alston, will compete one final time this season at the Indiana High School Athletic Association State Track Finals on Saturday, June 4. The proceedings will get underway at 3 p.m. at the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex — home of the Indiana Hoosiers — in Bloomington.
Contact Times-Mail sports reporter Auston Matricardi via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @amatricardiTM.
This article originally appeared on The Times-Mail: Bedford, Orleans, Paoli Springs Valley send athletes to boys track finals