By Randy Sharer | email@example.com
In the 32nd annual Corn Belt Conference Track Meet on Monday, Lyons’ joy was overflowing after his Pioneers won their first title since 1980.
“I knew that it was possible, but I am surprised,” said Lyons after his team scored 111 points to edge runner-up Eureka (106) and six-time defending champion Mahomet-Seymour (97). “It’s such a great group of girls. It seems they have improved every meet.”
Mahomet-Seymour’s boys looked as good as usual as they scored 144 points to secure their seventh straight crown. U High was second with 100.
“We’ve got a good group of young guys and they came out and competed real hard,” said Bulldogs coach Keith Pogue.
Rain joined the cool, windy conditions halfway through the meet, but one girl still managed a meet record, reigning Class 2A state champion Emily Clay of U High. She cleared 12 feet, 3 inches in the pole vault.
Clay missed at 12-9, which she needs to qualify for the Nike Outdoor Nationals.
“I was just coming down on it,” she said. “I have plenty of height. I just have a mental block or something at 12-9.”
Kelly Curran of Central Catholic got the baton in the 3,200-meter relay 90 meters behind the leader, but her blazing 2-minute, 15.5-second split gave her a 20-meter margin of victory. The meet record in the open 800 is 2:16.21.
The Notre Dame recruit couldn’t remember erasing a bigger deficit.
“I just reeled them in slowly, step by step,” said Curran, who got the baton in fourth and helped her team run 10:19.40.
U High senior Sarah Klass, a first-year track athlete, swept the 1,600 (5:40.87) and 3,200 (12:20.50).
Olympia’s Brett Watts won the 100 (11.32) and 200 (22.90), clocking a meet record 10.85 in the 100 prelims. He also aided the winning 800 relay (1:32.74) after Mahomet-Seymour was disqualified.
“Our handoffs were bad in that race,” Watts said. “You don’t like to win that way.”
U High’s Ryan Rutherford wanted to win with a personal record in the 3,200, but his 9:46.31 missed by three seconds.
“I just didn’t have it,” said Rutherford, who won by over 31 seconds. He later captured the 1,600 in 4:40.19.
Eureka sophomore Kalla Gold swept the 200 (26.81) and 400 (59.20) besides anchoring the winning 400 relay (51.91).
“I’m ahead of where I was last year so I’m excited,” Gold said.
The boys hurdle races were exciting duels between Olympia’s Kameron Carpenter and Mahomet-Seymour’s Colton Fender. Fender won the 110s, 15.49 to 15.57, while Carpenter won the 300s, 40.81 to 41.12.
“We were neck and neck most of (the 110s),” said Carpenter, who was thrilled to get his body over a winning career best of 14-3. “I was close to making 14-9 my first two jumps.”
Prairie Central senior Abby Popejoy regained the long jump title she won as a sophomore, leaping 15-7.5, well below her season best of 16-9.5.
Eureka’s Kelsey Holman, an Illinois State volleyball recruit, won the girls high jump for the third straight year, clearing 5-3. The boys high jump went to Eureka’s Josh Prosser at an area-leading 6-5.
Pontiac won the girls 1,600 relay in a school record 4:08.00 thanks to Emily Grove (60.4), Skylar Alford (61.7), Ashley Johnson (61.5) and Loni Mackinson (60.3).