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PLYMOUTH â€” With 12 events already in the books, Plymouth was in serious jeopardy of having its string of six straight sectional titles broken.
A dropped baton in the 400 relay cost the Pilgrims some points, but Michael Hartman and Mason Reed responded with a one-four finish in the individual 400, throwers Adam Lacefield and Dan Samuelson went one-two in the shot put, the Pilgrims' 1600 relay squad of Elliott Eads, Taylor Fulton, Michael Hartman and Matt Lee held off Rochester by less than a second for the title in their event, and Plymouth won its seventh straight team track and field sectional title at home Thursday.
"I've been a part of a few championships before, and I tell you it's so satisfying because we haven't won a track meet all year, and for our guys to hang in there and believe in what we're telling them every week after we get chewed up in the NLC like we did, just to come out and compete and hang in there and believe in one another, this is a total team effort," said Plymouth head coach John Barron.
"I'm just really happy. The guys just performed all night long. It was a great night; a lot of people here, and it was great to end on."
Samuelson and Lacefield went two-three in the discus, respectively, while Matt Lee finished third in the 800, Clay Corsbie was second in the 300 hurdles, and the Pilgrims' 3200 relay team of Corsbie, Lee, Stephen Abair and Diego Ibarra qualified for the Kokomo Regional next Thursday with a third-place result in their event.
All total, Plymouth won just three championships at Thursday's meet in Hartman's 400 title, Lacefield's shot put championship, and the Pilgrims' 4X400 finish, and instead of relying heavily on one or two points producers, the championship was a team win.
"That's how you win events like this, guys just chipping away, and that's what we talked about. Even if you're not going to win it or qualify, those places, five through eight add up all night long," said Barron.
Culver Communities and Culver Military Academies both gave the defending champions a run for their money as two two teams finished in a three-way tie with Rochester for second with 84 points.
"We knew it was going to be close," said Culver head coach Chad Hollenbaugh. "I scored it out with five teams within eight or 10 points. Micah Budzinski said it best. I came over and I said I thought it was going to be a tie for second, and he goes 'Aww, but this was fun." That sums it up. To compete for being in the mix is a lot better than being down the ladder."
Sprinter Cole Flora with a second-place finish in the 200 and a third-place result in the 100 as well as a turn on Culver's second-place 400 relay squad with Keith Back, Micah Budzinski and Kevin Hogan. Hurford and Budzinski finished second and third in the 110 hurdles, Hurford was third in the shot put, John Ahlenius was third in the pole vault, Bradley Beaver was third in the long jump, and the Cavaliers' 1600 relay of Beaver, Budzinski, Lodge Burgess and Preston Hansel all placed fourth in their event to advance to next week's regional.
CMA saw a trio of championships as Wes Hibbard claimed top honors in the 800, Austen Haden won the 300 hurdles, and Leopoldo Burguete won the 1600. Burguete finished third in the 3200, CMA's 3200 relay of Harris Allen, Aluwatobi Bolarin, Burguete and Hibbard were runners-up in their race, the Eagles' 400 relay of Aaron Arvizu, Bolarin, Gang Woo Choi and Dane Dahline were third in their event, Austin Sheldon and Mauricio Cohen finished second and fourth, respectively, in the pole vault.
"It was a pretty good overall night," said CMA head coach Michael Chastain. "We had some people that didn't come through in each event that they did. But the (Burguete) kid ran strong in the 1600, Wes Hibbard did a very nice job in the 800. Austin Haden, it was very spectacular for him because he had a very nice improvement in the hurdles, and he competed hard."
Triton had two athletes advance in Trenton Stackhouse, who placed fourth in the 1600, and Tyler Ameigh, who finished fourth in the 110 hurdles as the Trojans placed ninth with 37 points Thursday.
"It was really nice to have Tyler, a senior, advance, because he hasn't really run for four weeks. He pulled his quad early, and tonight was his first night back and he hadn't practiced," said Triton head coach Curt Kreft. "He really wanted it. Stachouse had a PR tonight with a 4:46.
"Those are my only two going on, but I had two freshmen I thought did a really nice job tonight, Blake Johnson in the pole vault cleared 11â€¦ and then Kevin Heckaman placed fifth in the 100, fifth in the long jump, sixth in the 200 and sixth in the 400. Just a really solid performance from him all the way around."
â€¢Â PLYMOUTH BOYS TRACK SECTIONAL
TEAM SCORES: 1. Plymouth 98, 2. Tie between Culver Communities and Culver Military Academy and Rochester 84, 5. Manchester 73, 6. Northfield 55, 7. Tippecanoe Valley 42, 8. North Miami 38, 9. Triton 37, 10. Caston 29.
100: 1. Kegan McNeeley (M) 11.21, 2. Preston Pinrod (M) 11.74, 3. Cole Flora (CC) 11.74, 4. Jared Richardson (NM) 11.87; 200: 1. Kegan McNeeley (M) 22.5, 2. Cole Flora (CC) 23.2, 3. Nolan Sponseller (TV) 23.5, 4. Gang Woo Choi (CMA) 23.6; 400: 1. Michael Hartman â„— 51.21, 2. Nolan Sponsellar (TV), 3. Evan Downs Â® 53.41, 4. Mason Reed â„— 53.61; 800: 1. Wes Hibbard (CMA) 2:01.28, 2. Jeff Ferrell Â® 2:02.95, 3. Matt Lee â„— 2:04.73, 4. Zach Smith Â© 2:07.59; 1600: 1. Leopoldo Burguete (CMA) 4:31.9, 2. Caleb Augustus (N) 4:36.17, 3. Alex Gudeman Â® 4:37.97, 4. Trenton Stackhouse (T) 4:46.75; 3200: 1. Caleb Augustus (N) 9:50.7, 2. Matt Fahs-Brown (M) 10:11.73, 3. Leopoldo Burguete (CMA) 10:18.7, 4. Alex Gudeman Â® 10:20.2; 110 hurdles: 1. James Gregory (TV) 15.28, 2. Matt Hurford (CC) 15.77, 3. Micah Budzinski (CC) 16.6, 4. Tyler Ameigh (T) 16.84; 300 hurdles: 1. Austin Haden (CMA) 42.56, 2. Clay Corsbie â„— 43.07, 3. Graham Redweik Â© 43.67, 4. Brodi Carter (M) 43.77; 400 relay: 1. Manchester (Jacob Casper, Kegan McNeeley, Tom Naragon, Austen Oaks) 44.47, 2. Culver Community 45.77, 3. CMA 46.47, 4. Northfield 46.51; 1600 relay: 1. Plymouth (Elliott Eads, Taylor Fulton, Michael Hartman, Matt Lee) 3:33.96, 2. Rochester 3:34.26, 3. Northfield 3:39.2, 4. Culver Community 3:39.23; 3200 relay: 1. Rochester (Evan Downs, Jeff Ferrell, Alex Gudeman, Brandon Rife) 8:22.85, 2. CMA 8:31.76, 3. Plymouth 8:34.13, 4. Northfield 8:41.07; High jump: 1. Ramsen Bet-Nimrod Â® 6-07, 2. Derrick Cunningham (TV) 6-02, 3. Bradley Beaver (CC) 6-01, 4. Caleb Hunter Â® 6-0; Pole vault: 1. Cameron Bugno Â® 12-06, 2. Austin Sheldon (CMA) 12-0, 3. John Ahlenius (CC) 11-0, 4. Mauricio Cohen (CMA) 11-0; Long jump: 1. Jacob White (NM) 19-10.75, 2. Houston Miller (N) 19-06.25, 3. Bradley Beaver (CC) 19-05.75, 4. Derrick Cunningham (TV) 19-05.75; Shot put: 1. Adam Lacefield â„— 48-09.25, 2, Dan Samuelson â„— 47-00.25, 3. Matt Hurford (CC) 46-02.5, 4. Ethan Beech (NM) 43-10; Discus: 1. Cole Sellers (M) 148-08, 2. Dan Samuelson â„— 145-05, 3. Adam Lacefield â„— 137-07.