There were a couple subplots in place at the Art Carlson Hawk Classic on April 26.
One was Morrison’s middle-distance relays going up against Rockford Christian and star runner Riley Wells and the other Forreston-Polo battling RC for the team title.
Forreston-Polo claimed a meet record with a 1:31.17 in the 4 x 200 relay, but could not surpass Rockford Christian’s overall strength, finishing second, 136-108 in the 22-team event.
Morrison, which hadn’t been to the meet for over a decade, made a strong statement as a 1A state trophy contender with dominating wins over RC in the 4 x 800 relay and 4 x 400 relay. Keegan Anderson anchored Morrison to wins in both races and also won the 400 meters to be named meet MVP.
The Mustangs, who won the 2018 1A title in the 4 x 800 with four sophomores running 8:00, gave early notice to last year’s 1A state team runner-up with a decisive win in the event,
“The difference was Koby Brackemeyer on the third leg,” Morrison coach Tim Duncan said. “We switched order. Usually, Koby is last and Keegan is third. In these (windy) conditions, I didn’t think we’d be this fast. We’re way ahead of our times from last year.”
By the time Anderson got the baton, he had a 40-meter lead on Wells, who won the prestigious Palatine Distance Night 800 meters last week. Wells, who would come back from a similar deficit to beat Spencer Mauch in the open 800 later in the meet, went out after Anderson, but finished five second behind at 8:04 to 8:09.
“If they were head-to-head, it would be a heck of a race between those two,” Duncan said. “I got to give Riley his accolades. He’s the one who’s run a 1:52.”
The 4 x 400 was a near repeat, with Anderson having a substantial lead on Wells on the anchor lead, as the Mustangs set a meet record of 3:25.93.
“Everyone knows Morrison is legit with the super sophs from last year,” RC coach Randy Moore said. “It was our first time running the 4 x 8 since Top Times. It would have been nice to have Riley closer on the last leg, but Morrison is awesome. They’ll probably get the state record (7:53) and I’d like to think we can get that time in 2A.”
In the 400, Anderson had his sights set on the meet record of 49.07 and came close at 49.36. As a junior, he’ll have another shot at it next year.
“If I was going to build a track program, Anderson is the type of (body) frame I’d use,” said Oregon coach Jim Spratt, whose 2005 runner Martin McCormick has the 400 record.
Breaking out the yellow Marco uniforms for the meet, Forreston-Polo hung with RC for most of the meet, but did not have the depth or distance running to contend. It was Evan Kelsey, Jordan Neuschwander, Dom Christensen and Brady Webb on the record-setting 4 x 200 relay with a time good enough for a state medal. F-P was also second in the 4 x 100 relay to RC, 43.56-43.76, with Cailean Davids running instead of Webb.
“We can’t compete against a Rockford school with that many good athletes and someone like a Riley Wells,” F-P coach Bob Wagner said. “I was very happy with our handoffs in the relays today. That was the key for us and something we’ve been working so hard at.”
Webb won the 100 at 11.56 and was second in the long jump (21-3) and 200 (23.10) for 26 points on his own. Jace Coffey rebounded from a slow start in the discus to take first at 160-5.
“It wasn’t my best day long jumping. Some days you’re on and some days you’re off,” Webb said. “I look forward to these big meets and I will learn from it. It will help me as the season winds down.”
Wells came into the 800 as the record holder at 1:55.19. To the surprise of the fans at Landers-Loomis Field, it was Spencer Mauch of Newman taking a 30-meter lead on Wells and the rest of he field.
Demonstrating his widely acclaimed finishing kick, Wells sprinted to the finish line first at a 2:03.05, as it was became evident he was taking it easy to save himself for the 1,600 relay.
“It was gamble by Spencer that almost paid off,” Newman coach Andy Accardi said. “He said I’m going to go out and see if you can catch me. At the end, he didn’t have anything left.”
Newman did have a pair of first places by Shay Hafner in the 3,200 (10:15) and Connor McBride in the 200 (23.05).
“This meet has really gotten better,” Accardi said. “We tell our guys if they can place in the top 10 here, they’re doing okay. You won’t find a better 1A meet around.”
Besides Wells, the other individual who has the best mark among all three classes is Kyle Kruthoff of Erie-Prophetstown. Unfortunately, the 16-4 pole vaulter injured his foot landing on the pit in practice and had to miss the meet. He is expected to return to action next week.
Oregon’s Jake Mennen won the event on misses with a 13-6, as he broke in a pair of new poles.
The real highlight for Oregon was Bobby Youngren setting a personal best in the discus, throwing 148-6, to place third. State qualifying is 140-8.
“He was due for a throw like that,” Oregon throwing coach Doug Engel said.
Oregon was 11th with 27 points. The only other places for the Hawks were fifth by Calvin Sullivan in the 200 and Austin Ebert sixth in the 110 hurdles.
For F-P, Kelsey was fourth in the 100 and sixth in the 200. Cayden Shelton was impressive in running 2:04 in the 800 for fourth, beating bigger names Mauch and Brackemeyer. Davids took fourth in the 400 and Bennett Soltow fifth in the 300 hurdles.
In the field events, Garett Badertscher was fourth in the shot put (48-3) and Coffey sixth. Ethan Phillips took fourths in the long (20-6) and triple jumps (41-6). Christensen made 11-6 in the pole vault for another fourth and will likely have the No. 2 seed at sectional behind Mennen.