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Foss, Mennen lead Hawks at Big

After winning the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs last year, Rock Falls Brayden Hamblen was expected to be the marquee performer at the Big North conference track and field meet on May 11.

Instead, it was Jared Harrison of Dixon upstaging Hamblen and leading the Dukes to a three-peat championship. Harrison had no problem winning both hurdle races, but really made his mark by edging teammate Arthur Cox in the 200-meter dash.

“We hardly ever race each other, said Cox, who won the 100 meters with a 11.32 time. “He caught me on the curve. It’s a toss-up on who’s faster.”

Harrison ran 23.01 to 23.29 for Cox. It was only the second time all season Harrison competed in the 200.

Dixon tallied 155 points to 110 for 1A power Rockford Christian, who set the only meet record with a time of 3:26.32 in the 1,600 relay.

“I thought Rockford Christian had a chance to push it,” Bond said. “They’re going to be hard to beat downstate in 1A.”

Running anchor for RC on the 1,600 relay was sophomore Riley Wells, who by his own admission had a lot left in the tank after upsetting Hamblen in 800.

The 1:56.72-1:58.81 win was the first time Wells had beaten Hamblen in either cross country or track.

“Spectacular,” gushed RC coach Randy Moore. “Riley is a racer and rises to the level of competition.”

Dealing with allergies, asthma and a chest ailment, Hamblen has struggled since running a 9:11 in the 3,200 in early April.

He did manage a win in the 1,600 with a relatively pedestrian time of 4:39.

The heir apparent to Hamblen, RF freshman Dawson Smith, had his best race of the year in winning the 3,200 with a 9:54 clocking. His previous best was 10:20.

Oregon was nipped by Byron, 63-62, for third place in the team standings. Winnebago is experiencing a rare down and was seventh with 44 points.

The Hawks got wins from Sawyer Foss, who threw over 50 feet in the shot put for the first time in his career and sophomore Jake Mennen, who cleared 12-6 in the pole vault.

Mennen’s previous best was 11-9 and he was over 12-6 by nearly a foot. He will be a big favorite to win the sectional.

“Jake finally had his breakout meet,” Oregon coach Jim Spratt said. “His brother Caleb (third at 52.42) ran great and is approaching 51 in the 400. And, Foss (also second in the discus at 143-6) had his usual strong performance.”

Spratt was also pleased with a PR of 11-0 by pole vaulter Conner Hopkins. The 4-year vaulter barely missed 11-6 and took third, helping to give Oregon 25 percent of its points (16) from one event.

Ian Hussung had to scratch the remainder of the meet after struggling through a fifth-place 10:22 in the 3,200. Andrew Newman was third in the 110 high hurdles with a time of 16.74. Devin DeHaan took fourth in the 300 hurdles with a 43.24 clocking.

“The negatives of the meet were injuries to two of best runners – Ian Hussung (hip flexor) and Andrew Newman (calf),” Spratt said. Hopefully, we can get them healthy by next Friday (sectional).”

Oregon placed in all four relays, but all were far from state-qualifying standards. The best effort was a fourth (45.61) in the 400 relay by Caleb Mennen, Newman, Alex Sitze and Kaden Humphrey.

The Hawks could be in jeopardy of not sending a Spratt-coached relay team downstate for the first time.

Other than a few performances, this was mostly a mediocre meet for us,” Spratt said.

The Hawks host the 1A sectional on Friday with field events at 4 p.m. and running to start at 5:30 p.m.

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