PLYMOUTH — When senior sprinter Sam Stevens’ season ended with a pulled hamstring over the weekend, Plymouth boys track coach John Barron knew his team would be in for an uphill battle with Wawasee.
Add to that a number of personal bests by the Warriors at Wednesday’s Northern Lakes Conference dual meet, and the Pilgrims couldn’t quite get it done in a 75-57 Senior Night loss.
In the end, the Pilgrims fell a relay short — ending the night on a high note with a victory in the 4x400 but falling short of a top finish in the other two relays — while Kevin Carpenter’s PR 11-foot mark upended the Pilgrims’ hopes of a one-two finish in the pole vault, the home team was outgunned in the distance events as Adam Doll won both the 800 and the 1600 and the Warriors swept the top three spots in the two-mile, and the visitors went one-two in both jumping events.
“Coming into tonight, when Sam pulled his hamstring we had to jockey some things around to try and scratch and get as many points as we could,” said Barron. “We knew it would be a struggle. We needed to win one more relay, and we couldn’t get that done. We certainly tried… and those are 5-0 swings so it’s really a 10-point swing in a meet.”
“We had some momentum coming into this meet. We had our kids believing we could get the job done,” he added. “I don’t think it was a matter of not performing. Scott Lancaster, the Wawasee coach said he had several PRs by his kids tonight, so that kind of got us.”
While Plymouth finished short of the team win on Senior Night, the Pilgrims did see a quartet of strong finishes from a pair of senior throwers and a pair of junior runners Wednesday.
Michigan football recruit Dan Samuelson and Adam Lacefield finished one-two in the weight events as Samuelson clinched first in both with a throw of 154-03 in the discus and a 51-05.25 mark in the shot put, while Lacefield followed close behind with a 48-05 distance in the shot and a best throw of 132-09 in the discus.
The duo have consistently swept the top two spots in their events throughout the season, swapping back and forth in order of finish. Barron said the friendly rivalry between the classmates — as well as the efforts of PHS throwing coach Gary Fribley — has pushed them to the top of the conference.
“I think competition breeds success. You can’t be the best on our schedule if you’re not the best on our team,” said Barron. “Whether it’s in practice or it’s a meet, Dan will win the discus and then Adam will win the shot or vice versa. They have a great relationship; it’s almost like a sibling rivalry. I think Adam enjoys the fact that he’s beating a big-time Division I recruit, and he reminds him of that every time he beats him. They’re just fun to be around.”
While Samuelson and Lacefield were responsible for the lion’s share of Plymouth’s points in the field, junior sprinter Michael Hartman led the Pilgrims on the track.
Hartman went four-for-four in wins Wednesday, claiming top finishes in the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes with respective times of 11.63, 23.64 and 52.01 and his turn as anchor on Plymouth’s winning 4x400 helped hold off Wawasee’s Clayton Cook for the Pilgrim’s lone relay win of the night.
Unusually big for a sprinter, Barron said Hartman’s offseason work in the weight room is a big part of what has the junior’s success.
“Michael Hartman, he’s our top point-getter. He won everything tonight,” said Barron. “That’s kind of been a theme for him all year. He’s only been beaten once by the Elkhart Memorial kid in the 400. He has a great attitude, he hates to lose, he’s great for the younger kids. I think his strength training in the winter time really have helped his flexibility and his mental toughness.”
While Hartman led Plymouth in the sprints, classmate Mason Reed bolstered the Pilgrims in the middle distance races.
Reed’s only win of the night came in the 1600 relay, where he, Hartman, senior Clay Corsbie and freshman Jack Barron clocked a 3:40.6, but he finished second in three other events at Wednesday’s dual meet, finishing second in the 800 behind Doll with a 2:07.66, second behind Hartman in the 400 with a 53.1 and combining with Barron, Austin Rose and senior Brandon Brashere for second place in the 3200 relay with a season-best time of 8:48.24, roughly 10 seconds better than the group’s previous best.
“Mason has a lot of talent,” said Barron. “A couple years ago we talked to him about going from football to cross country, and I don’t do that very often, but I just saw his talent in running. He certainly has helped our cross country team. He has been right there in the 800 in all of our meets, he’s scored points in first, second or third. Tonight we put him in four running events, and it was tough — he ran the open 400, the 800, the 4x4 and the 4x8. He’s just a guy that we have to have get better as we get into the conference meet and the sectional. He certainly is the leader of that middle distance group.”
Wednesday’s meet was the second and final regular-season home meet for the Pilgrims, and the team took time out to honor its nine seniors — Cosbie, Samuelson, Lacefield, Rose, Stevens, Brashere, Zach Kleckner, Kameron Eisenhour and Ezra Ganshorn — prior to the start of competition.
Barron praised his upperclassmen in general, and in particular longstanding team members Rose, Samuelson, Lacefield, Cosbie and Stevens — whose track career was cut short by a pulled hamstring shortly after re-entering the Plymouth lineup following shoulder surgery in the offseason — after the meet.
“Our seniors have had a great attitude all year,” said the Plymouth boss. “Dan and Adam have been first or second competing with each other in every meet; every night we can count on those points and it’s just been huge. Austin Rose, I think about how hard he practices and how hard he gives everything he can to our program. It’s unfortunate that Sam Stevens has been injured. I really feel bad for him because he’s really been all in with track as much as he possibly can in his four years, and we’ll miss his presence and his leadership. Corsbie has been a multiple event guy for us running the hurdles, pole vaulting.
“Over the years those guys as a group have really done a nice job.”
• WAWASEE 75, PLYMOUTH 57
4x800 relay: 1. Wawasee (Adam Doll, Zach Cockrill, Jaxon Bame, Stori Bright) 8:41.67, 2. Plymouth 8:44.59; 100: 1. Michael Hartman ℗ 11.63, 2. Clayton Cook (W) 11.66; 200: 1. Hartman ℗ 23.64, 2. Michael Pena (W) 23.76; 400: 1. Hartman ℗ 52.01, 2. Mason Reed ℗ 53.1; 800: Doll (W) 2:08.03, 2. Reed ℗ 2:13.39; 1600: 1. Doll (W) 4:39.01, 2. Kennedy Schnieders ℗ 5:01.28; 3200: 1. Austin Krizman (W) 11:09.06, 2. Zach Cockrill (W) 11:09.25; 110 hurdles: 1. Cook (W) 15.83, 2. Austin Trowbridge (W) 17.41; 300 hurdles: 1. Cook (W) 43.27, 2. A.J. Styers ℗ 43.73; 4x100 relay: 1. Wawasee (Pena, Jacob Hutchinson, J.J. Gilmer, Clayton Cook) 44.43, 2. Plymouth 46.64; 4x400 relay: 1. Plymouth (Reed, Clay Corsbie, Jack Barron, Hartman) 3:40.6, 2. Wawasee 3:42.2; High jump: 1. Gilmer (W) 6-0, 2. Trowbridge (W) 5-10; Pole vault: 1. Kevin Carpenter (W) 11-0, 2. Corsbie ℗ 10-06; Long jump: 1. Gilmer (W) 21-01, 2. Hutchinson (W) 19-01; Shot put: 1. Dan Samuelson ℗ 51-05.25, 2. Adam Lacefield ℗ 48-05; Discus: 1. Samuelson ℗ 154-03, 2. Lacefield ℗ 132-09.