By Andy Colbert
Other than discus thrower Troy Pudlas advancing to the finals, it was a disappointing day for Oregon at the IHSA state track meet preliminaries May 29.
Ashton Rutherford, who was seeded third in the pole vault, did not make it to the finals, ending a run of three straight years the Hawks have had one or more vaulters in the finals.
“I felt bad for Ashton,” Spratt said. “There can always be problems in a technical event like pole vaulting and this time he struggled.”
Rutherford, who broke the school record with an effort of 14’-7” the week before, cleared 12-6 and failed to advance to Saturday.
One positive was that he improved his 300 hurdles time with a 41.17 clocking, still short of the 40.18 needed to make the finals.
The 400, 800 and 1,600 relays also missed out on the finals, a year after Oregon made the finals in all four relays.
“It was a tough day,” Spratt said. “We did improve in the 4 x 200, though.”
The unit of Rutherford, Pierce Dhaese, Josh Drew and fill-in Carson Buck ran 1:32.50 to take second in their heat behind Erie-Prophetstown (1:31.28).
Ironically, Oregon (1:31.87) also took second to E-P (1:30.77) in the 800 relay last year in the prelims.
Buck was a replacement for Mitch Nehrkorn, who became ill.
“Coming down on the bus, I was skeptical about running,” said Buck, one of the Hawk relay alternates.
“Mitchell wasn’t feeling right in warm-ups,” Dhaese said. “His neck was sore. Buck had been ready all day.”
“I didn’t know Carson was running until I looked down and saw him,” said Spratt, who like all coaches must watch the events from the stands. “It was good to see Carson get back on his feet after the sectional.”
Nehrkorn did run the 400 relay with Drew, Dhaese and Rutherford. That group took sixth in their heat with a time of 44.74, good for 18th overall.
“Our exchanges were okay, not great,” Spratt said. “With this type of competition, we needed them to be great.”
In an attempt to “shock the world” as he put it, Drew also ran in the 100 meters, but failed to qualify.
After a four and half-hour weather delay, the 1,600 relay of Drew, Dhaese, Caleb Mennen and another replacement, Andrew Newman, took to the track. The Hawks finished in seventh place in their heat with a time of 3:33.93.
“We lost about a second with Newman in for Nehrkorn, but Andrew did an admirable for a freshman fill in,” Spratt said.
Compared to years past, Oregon was unusually thin at the junior and senior levels and needed the lower grades to help fill out the 18 events a track and field meet entails.
“The fresh-soph contributed heavily and many were first year participants. It was baptism by fire for them,” Spratt said. “I look forward to big things in the future.”