GOSHEN – Just how good was Warsaw Thursday night at the Goshen Boys Track Sectional? The look on Tiger head coach Matt Thacker’s face when informed his 4×400 relay team had broken a sectional record said it all.
“What? Did we do it?” asked Thacker toward his assistant coaches, then taking a long pause with just a small hint of a smile creeping on his face, regained his composure. “We just broke a sectional record in the four by four. The four by four summarizes our team. Our kids flat out want to compete and want to win. They want to do well, we don’t have to preach about not working hard.”
It was not a matter of if for the Tiger track program, ranked No. 7 in the state, but a matter of how much would they run past the field of what were very talented individuals and teams. Warsaw racked up 135 points on the strength of seven individual and relay titles to easily outdistance Fairfield’s runner-up total of 81. The title gives Warsaw a three-peat of sectional crowns, and the seven titles made Thacker a very proud coach.
“We talked about doing something special,” Thacker began, but was abruptly interrupted by Elkhart Memorial head coach Adam Homo alerting Thacker that Chad Goon was bumped up to regional qualifier after Homo scratched McNeal Stewart from the 400. “You hear that Chad, you are running regional,” Thacker replied to his junior.
“We are just blessed with a bunch of good kids.”
Jacob Poyner had an outstanding night, winning the 1600 in impressive fashion at 4:16.79 with teammate Robert Murphy nipping at his heels at 4:19.06. That would be a theme for Warsaw distance as Poyner and Murphy commanded attention. Poyner would also win the 3200 at 9:33.28, and while Murphy did not qualify for the regional in the two-mile, clocking 10:12.12, Murphy made up more than five spots during the race to take sixth.
The feat in the two-mile for Murphy was impressive considering it was his third distance race of the night, already claiming a 1:55.27 in the 800 to remain king in the event and having just the 200-meter dash to rest before running the 3200.
“They are the heart and soul of this track team,” Thacker said of Poyner and Murphy. “Robert is the engine and Jake is just a hard-working, very talented young man who does everything right for us, for his family, for his school. They both are two kids the community should be as proud of as much as we are. It is just a real honor to have the opportunity to coach them.”
Warsaw’s relays were also fantastic, with the 4×100 team of Wyatt Jones, Gabe Furnivall, Nathan Kolbe and Tristan McClone running away from the field at 42.89, McClone literally running uncontested at the finish. The closing 4×400 relay was also spot on, setting a new sectional record it set in 2012 by finishing out a 3:20.85 with Jones, Furnivall, Kolbe and Ryan Goon. Furnivall also added a title in the 400, winning at 50.62.
Seth Fouts rounded out the Warsaw wins with a monster 54’06” winner in the shot put, winning by almost four feet and achieving the state standard in the process. Fouts also advanced to regionals in the discus, finishing fourth.
Overall, Warsaw will send a minimum of 15 athletes and relays to the Kokomo Boys Track Regional next Thursday, where a showdown with mighty Penn will be in store.
“It is going to be a battle with us and Penn, and throw Kokomo in there, too,” Thacker said of next week’s showdown. Penn beat Warsaw by one point at the Goshen Relays, Warsaw returning favor with a 17-point win at the Max Truex. “(Penn) is a very deep team with a lot of speed. They have strengths where we have weaknesses and we have strengths where they have weaknesses. It’s going to be who scores the most and what balances out. If we can get some big points in throws from Seth, some points in high jump, outscore them in field events, we have a shot.
“It’s a big meet. The bottom line is how many kids can we get to the state meet. That is the true testament of where our program has gone and where it continues to head.”
Fairfield landed in second place with just one champion, a 154’0″ toss from Kyle Ostrander of the discus. Memorial had its name read three times as champions, first from the 4×800 relay team that sped to an 8:02.82 time while Davontea Millsaps bolted to wins in the 100 (10.92) and 200 (22.09).
Goshen’s Cristian Barron won the 300 hurdles title at 40.33, Northridge’s Josh Rheinheimer took the pole vault at 14’0″ and Elkhart Central’s Larry Gates soared to a 21’10.5″ in the long jump.
GOSHEN BOYS TRACK SECTIONAL
1. Warsaw 135
2. Fairfield 81
3. Northridge 75
4. Elkhart Memorial 66.5
5. Elkhart Central 59
6. Goshen 54.5
7. Wawasee 42
8. Jimtown 41
9. Concord 30
10. NorthWood 22
11. Elkhart Christian Academy 18