WARSAW – It was only fitting that in his last hurdles race on his home track Thursday night that Ross Armey walked away as a champion.
Just as it was also fitting that his Warsaw team put itself back into the books as champions in the last event on the Fisher Field track.
Armey, the heart and soul of Warsaw’s senior class, led the way as the Tigers captured a regional title in a highly-competitive field.
Warsaw totaled 57.5 points to outdistance conference counterparts Goshen and NorthWood, who each had 52 points, to claim its third championship in the last four years and the sixth overall for the program.
The scene on the Fisher Field track was one of smiles and exuberance all around for the hosts when the final point totals were read at night’s end.
The top three finishers in each event advance to the State Finals on June 4 at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Armey took care of some “unfinished business” as he was the lone individual champion for his deep and talented team. The two-sport standout, who is bound to run track at Grace College, was not to be denied on this night. Armey topped NorthWood senior Derek Parker in the 300 hurdles finals to claim his crown. Armey, the top seed for the event, hit the finish line in 38.83, while Parker clocked in at 38.88.
It was sweet justice for Armey, who was disqualified after winning the 300 hurdles at the South Bend St. Joseph Regional last year. The 10 points that he would have earned would have given Warsaw the regional team title last year.
It’s been some run for the Class of 2016 in the track program. The group did not lose a Northern Lakes Conference dual meet in their careers, extending the winning streak to 41 in a row. They also claimed the sixth straight NLC Meet title and the sixth consecutive sectional championship this Spring in their final season.
“All of us as a senior group wanted to leave a legacy,” said Armey, who also plays football for the Tigers. “Tonight was a pretty big accomplishment for me. I knew that it would be between me and Parker and I knew that it would be close. He’s a very good competitor and it’s really a toss-up when we race. Tonight both of us had pr’s. I will see him again at State next week and that’s pretty exciting.”
Armey and Parker have had some great races this postseason. Armey won the 300 hurdles title at the NLC Meet on May 10 as he went 39.12 and Parker hit the line in 39.13. Armey won the race again at the Goshen Sectional May 19 with a top time of 39.17 with Parker second in 39.42.
Armey also teamed with senior Brandon Reinholt and juniors Rane Kilburn and Will McGarvey to win the 4 X 100 relay title in a top time of 42.87.
Warsaw coach Matt Thacker knew that his team, which dominated to win the Goshen Sectional last week, would be challenged by the likes of NorthWood and Goshen. He also was not surprised that his team was up to the challenge when it was all said and done.
“Our guys just continue to compete and step up,” said Thacker. “Our quality depth showed through again tonight. Our kids buy in and we were able to achieve this as a team tonight. There is a team feel to this. It’s really a special thing to be able to win a regional at home.”
The Tigers got big points from a host of its stellar senior class. Distance ace Owen Glogovsky was second in the 1,600 in a time of 4:17.89. Tommy Hickerson took second place in the long jump with a top effort of 20-11.
Thacker, who also serves as an assistant coach for the football program, was emotional when he talked about a senior group featuring the likes of Armey, Glogovsky, Hickerson, Dylan Childers and Lucas Cone.
“I love them all,” said Thacker of his senior class. “I’m extremely proud of them. We’ve been through a lot together. I’ve been around them for the last six years, either as a teacher or a football or track coach. They are really special to me. They are a good group of guys. They really brought along our freshmen and sophomores this year.
“Owen just had a great 1,600 tonight. He’s battling allergies and is just gritty.
“Ross is just a battler. He’s a guy who you want by your side. He got our David Fribley Award this year. David Fribley was just a great young man. Ross is about as close to being like David Fribley as anyone could be.”
David Fribley was a standout in both track and field and football at WCHS. The 1996 graduate was killed in 2003 at just 26 years old in combat in Iraq while serving as a Marine.
Senior Lucas Cone just missed a spot at State in the pole vault for the Tigers. Cone cleared a personal best 13 feet to tie for fourth place. The Academic All-State honoree won the event at the NLC Meet and also at the Goshen Sectional by clearing 12-6 in each event.
“It’s always bittersweet at the regional because guys are done for the season,” noted Thacker. “I won’t get to see a guy like Lucas Cone at practice next week. Our throws tonight also sticks out because we had the talent to do well there.”
Thacker got some great news Friday as Cone was added to the field in the pole vault for the State Finals.
Warsaw also got a fifth-place finish from its 4 X 800 relay team of junior Trent Thompson, sophomores William Robison and Xavi Ramierez and freshman Zeb Hernandez. Kilburn was seventh in the 100, while Tristan Larsh was seventh in the 400 and Lucas Howett eighth in the 3,200. The 4 X 400 relay team was also eighth.
Senior Brock Riley cleared 6-3 to place fifth in the high jump for Warsaw and classmate Luke Wilson was seventh with a top jump of 6-2. Senior Dylan Childers was eighth in the shot put.
Taking home regional titles Thursday night were NorthWood’s Parker in the 110 hurdles (14.83), Kokomo junior Andrecus Eddington in the 100 (11.15), Rochester senior Wesley Meyer in the 1,600 (4:16.82) and 800 (1:56.80), Northwestern senior Own Munson in the 400 (49.13), NorthWood senior Bailey Messenger in the 200 (22.11) and Fairfield junior Landon Miller in the 3,200 (9:31.50). Culver Academies won the 4 X 800 relay in 8:06.57 and NorthWood won the 4 X 400 relay in 3:23.03.
Plymouth sophomore Nate Patterson cleared 6-6 to win the high jump title. Fairfield senior Mitch DeWitt won the long jump with a leap of 21-06. Goshen senior Jordan Holley took first in the discus with a throw of 155-07, while South Bend St. Joe senior Peter Wiegand won the shot put at 55-09 and South Bend Adams senior Eric Streeter cleared 13-6 to win the pole vault competition.
St. Joe was fourth in the final team standings with 49 points. Penn took fifth with 40.5, followed by Fairfield (38), South Bend Adams (30), Rochester (28), Whitko (25) and Northridge (25) to round out the top 10.