BLOOMINGTON – Something special.
That was the goal all season long that Warsaw boys track coach Matt Thacker talked about for his team.
In the end, the talented Tigers surely did something special.
Warsaw capped off the best season in program history in historic fashion with a fifth-place finish at the State Finals Friday.
The Tigers got great performances up and down the lineup in the 110th annual event played out at the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex on the Indiana University campus.
Warsaw, which won NLC, sectional and regional championships this spring, totaled 29 points to record the top finish at the State Finals in program history.
The efforts of the outstanding trio of Jake Poyner, Robert Murphy and Seth Fouts in individual events and the 4 X 400 relay team of Wyatt Jones, Nate Kolbe, Gabe Furnivall and Ryan Goon left their coach searching for the right words as he awaited the final team scores to be announced.
“Sure I want to finish in the top five,” said Thacker before the final results were announced. “But, the bottom line is that this is special group of kids that Warsaw should be very proud of.
“I think this is the highest place we’ve ever had at State. It’s amazing to see the great things you can accomplish when everyone comes together.
“I’m just proud to be a part of this. It’s amazing what you can do when you have parents, community, teachers and coaches come together and you have young men buy into it like we do.”
“The pride I feel right now is hard to put into words. It’s an amazing feeling to have these type of kids that we have call you coach.”
Senior stars Poyner and Murphy, who teamed with Ellis Coon to lead the WCHS cross country team to a fourth-place finish at the State Finals last fall, capped incredible senior seasons by leading the way.
Poyner, who will run at Wake Forest, was third in the 1,600 and fifth in the 3,200. He set school records in each, going 4:09.95 in the 1,600 and then turning a 9:14.20 in the two-mile.
“This is just a huge blessing for me and I’m definitely grateful,” said Poyner. “I felt good tonight and I had fun. It was a fun night. Everyone medaled for us and I’m pumped about that.
“I can’t complain. My goal was to PR and I did that. All of this means a lot to me. I love how it all fits together. This has been a great thing to be a part of for me.”
Poyner, who has had a huge positive influence on Murphy, had much praise for his teammate who was fourth in the 1,600.
“Robert is just an amazing story,” said Poyner of his teammate, who has autism. “He’s kept me on my toes and it’s been a great thing to run with him.”
Murphy was right behind Poyner, clocking in at 4:12.46 in the 1,600. He also earned a seventh place finish in the 800 with a time of 1:55.33.
“The 1,600 went very well and I was very happy with how I did to get fourth place,” said Murphy, who will run at Vincennes University. “When I finished it, I was dead. The 800 didn’t go so well. I was still tired. I kind of took it easy at the start and tried to out kick some of them at the end. I thought I could do better, but I did good enough.”
Fouts stepped up huge in the shot put with a sixth-place finish. The junior, who did not compete until the final dual meet of the regular season after being sidelined due to surgery, threw 55-08.25 Friday. He came in seeded with a throw of 55-03.75 after winning a regional title at Kokomo last week.
The 4 x 400 relay team of seniors Jones, Kolbe and juniors Furnivall and Goon capped the special night with a special effort of their own. The team, which ran in the second of three timed heats, turned in a blistering performance of 3:20.22. They came is seeded at 3:25.37 after running in the brutally cold conditions at Kokomo last week.
“Our 4 X 400 just stepped up huge for us,” said Thacker. “That was their best time of the year tonight. That is what you come here for. They looked good.
“Seth getting sixth was unexpected. He came out of nowhere, at least to the rest of the state.
“Jake and Robert. What can you say about them? They did what they have done all year. They both ran extremely well in that 1,600. They both ran smart races.”
Senior Taylor Cone competed in the prelims of the 110 hurdles for Warsaw. Cone finished in 24th place with a time of 15.68.
Hamilton Southeastern won the team championship Friday night with 65 points. Lafayette Jefferson was second with 49, followed by Center Grove with 34, Lawrence Central with 32 and Warsaw with 29.