It was fun times in north-central Indiana on a crisp Thursday evening that was slated for distance
Indiana Wesleyan University; Marion IN
An exhausted meet director Courtney Bishop had enough energy to thank the fans, athletes, and university coaching staff for providing a great experience late Thursday evening. It was the second and final installment of a series of distance races that brought joy to athletes who had to navigate through months of torture that the Covid-19 brought.
The first two events on the track (800m) netted just three finishers. But things started to get interesting in terms of action with the boys 1600m. After a sluggish first half in 2:18 and 3:24 on the bell, Jesus Garcia of Zionsville made a decisive move to the front and put his foot on the pedal. The pace picked up mightily and it was clear that Garcia was going to run himself to a personal best. He sped home ahead of Ezra Burrell of Indy Brebeuf in 4:23.94. separated themselves from the fray.
The mixed 1600m presented itself in the same manner with a conservative opening pace. Boys and girls running together, things went from 2:28 at the half to 3:46.1 on the bell. A male runner Tanner McMain of Garrett HS IN started to stretch things out on the backstretch. Female runners Meghan Ford of Michigan and Lily Cridge of Indy Chatard pursued hard but fell short of McMain but logged very good 4:57.23 and 4:57.29 personal bests.
The boys 3200m section 1 turned out to be the highlighted race of the day. Outstanding freshman Kole Mathison of Carmel IN had made the most of the COVID times racing in a series of races. He would trade lead races with Will Jefferson of Whiteland IN and Lucas Guerra of Highland IN in the early going. The first half crossed in a brisk 4:38. Just after the 2k in 5:46.4, it was still a three-man race but Jefferson and Guerra appeared to hold the advantage. Guerra took the lead at the bell in 8:06 with Jefferson following close. On the home stretch, Jefferson was able to hold off Guerra for the win in 9:06.39-9:06.66. Mathison finished with a tremendous time of 9:10.32.
The main event 4x800 relay featured two races with the undercard boys team from Madeira HS in Ohio, getting some finality on a tough season. The all-senior tandem churned out solid splits of 2:00-01 for the first several legs and busted the anchor in 1:56.4 which netted a season-best 7:56.75.
The Project 800 girls team was the center of attention with its coach Courtney Bishop wanting the national junior record of 8:37. That in itself was a tall task because all four runners must be on the same page at the same time. The Huntington team provided a strong challenge throughout and actually led for a good portion of the race. The 800 Project's third leg Amaya Turner of Wheeler HS IN used a strong opening surge to get her team into the lead. Turner busted a 2:13.0 that provided some relief for a possible win. The anchor Maddie Russin of Crown Point IN put the finishing touches on the win with a 2:12.1 split. There would be no record but a nice consolation prize of 8:54.83 was nice.