GOSHEN – Those who came to the Goshen Boys Track Sectional looking to see some of the top talent in the state perform got their money’s worth. Those who stuck around to the end got to see one heckuva historical moment.
For those in attendance at the 1943 boys track sectional where Goshen won its first sectional title, they must have been overjoyed Thursday to see Goshen win its second title, scoring 23 points in its final two events to hold off Elkhart Central for a 115-101.5 championship. Just the second title in program history for Goshen and a nice double, paired with the Northern Lakes Conference title it won a week ago for the first time since 1977.
Goshen used three field titles and a stockpile of point scorers to get itself in position. The RedHawks won both throws, Steven Worlds emerging from discus at 157-05 and Brock Tauteris taking shot put at 54-3. Lucas DeMoya outlasted the pole vaulters with a 13-6 win, giving Goshen some needed spice to its boiling kettle. With Goshen, Central and Concord all dancing at the top of the team standings, the RedHawks needed some insurance, and got it from a couple reliable sources.
The duo of Felix Perez-Diener and Jason Barahona-Rosales paced the two-mile field, Perez-Diener and Warsaw’s Lucas Howett dancing for much of the first six laps as leaders while Barahona-Rosales and Central’s Nathan Dibley kept in step. Dibley joined the two leaders in lap seven while Barahona-Rosales fell off the pace. Perez-Diener found his extra gear to break away for a 9:47.96 win, Dibley catching Howett late to take second, Howett in third. Barahona-Rosales would dig deep to make sure a pair of Memorial runners didn’t steal any points, taking fourth.
Those points, combined with a monster rally by Domonick Swinney in the final leg of the 4×400 relay where he caught both Warsaw and Columbia City in the home stretch, capped a second-place race finish but set off a wild celebration 75 years in the making. It finished with a quiet victory lap by Goshen head coach Graham Clark, who ran by himself around the track with the sectional trophy high in the air. No noise, just pride.
“I have to give a lot of attention to former coaches who helped make this program what it is,” said Clark, soaked from an ice bath during the celebration. “We had to continue pushing for it. You don’t want to give up on it. When I came here four years ago, I talked to this freshman group that are now seniors that if they stuck together, we could have something really special. They have two weeks now to cement that legacy at the regional and at the state finals. We can carry this out.
“But don’t get me wrong, tonight feels really good.”
Central won the four-by-four at 3:27.11 to Goshen’s 3:28.49 with City holding off Warsaw for third at 3:28.69, the Tigers fourth at 3:29.33.
Aside from the team drama, there wasn’t much in the way of major surprises as the stars shined bright.
NorthWood had an exceptional day, winning three events and breaking a 34-year-old record in the process.
The 400-meter relay team of Landon Parker, Terrell Pratcher, Bronson Yoder and Brayton Yoder came into the night with one of the top times in the state in the event at 42.31 per meet emcee Carl Weaver. The team left the meet with the fastest time in Goshen Sectional history at 42.28, breaking Elkhart Central’s 1984 mark of 42.30.
Bronson Yoder added a long jump title to his credit, soaring 22-9.25 to edge Central’s Bernard Gilbert by three-quarters of an inch. Pratcher was the runaway winner in the 200 at 22.06, again Gilbert behind in second place.
“I told our guys, to set a record at this sectional, with that record that the Elkhart team had in 1984, I saw that record and that was something,” said NorthWood head coach Mark BeMiller. “The talent that has come through this sectional is just fantastic. For us to get this record at this meet is pretty impressive.”
On a night where Goshen made history, Warsaw fell off its lofty perch. The NLC meet a week ago was a precursor, with the Tigers falling back to third after half a decade of dominance. At the sectional, it was the same thing.
The Tigers were fourth in the team standings at 71 points, short of Concord’s 86. Warsaw had just one sectional champion, with Justin Fleming defending his NLC title in the mile with an equally impressive run at the sectional. Fleming led throughout the race, and despite a hard charge from Dibley in the final 25 meters, Fleming held on for a 4:25.27 win, Dibley at 4:25.94.
Warsaw had just five athletes and one relay claim a top-three finish in guaranteeing themselves a regional position. Fleming and Howett buoyed the distance crew, and the 4×800 relay team of Nolan Groninger, Xavi Ramirez, Taylor Mills and Tanner Stiver were second at 8:08.56. John Svinarich was second in shot put at 49-9, Hunter Metzger was third in pole vault at 13-0 and Eli Owen was third in the 300 hurdles at 40.69. Owen is also on the bubble in the 110 hurdles, taking fourth at 15.42.
“It was just a different year for us. It wasn’t a rebuilding year, just a different year,” said Warsaw head coach Matt Thacker. “Warsaw will always be a great track program. We just didn’t have what it takes to get it done. Hats off to Graham and his program, they really earned it and deserved the title tonight.”
Wawasee didn’t have a banner day by any means, but did have one championship moment. Luke Griner continued to run some of the best 800-meter races in the state, and again, was joined by Northridge’s Tanner Sallee in a dash for the cash. Griner and Sallee led the pack the entire race, and the two pulled away on the home stretch. Griner didn’t flinch, and just as he did in the NLC championship, pulled away at the end to win at 1:57.19 to Sallee’s 1:57.84.
Wawasee only had one other athlete take a top-three, which was Elisha Tipping in discus with a third-place toss of 146-04. The Warriors only had four others land in the top six in any event, with Eric Yankosky and Xavier Ortiz both sixth in pole vault, Michael Hammer sixth in the 800 and Isaiah Tipping fifth in shot put.
“This certainly was not as good a night as we had at the conference meet,” said Wawasee head coach Doug Slabaugh. “Even Luke’s win, he didn’t get out quick enough. We wanted to get him out at about a 56, and his first lap was a 57 or 58. He really had to put the hammer down. But, obviously, he was a sectional champion and he did what he had to do to get the win. He wasn’t too stressed about it, just came out and did his job.”
Concord had four champions to its credit. Harold Moon won two titles, the 110 hurdles (14.65) and the 400 (50.01), Jakale Conerly the 100 (10.93) and Jamyris Rice the 300 hurdles (39.83).
Columbia City’s Alex Scharpenberg claimed high jump with a clearance of 6-4 and Memorial won the 4×800 at 8:04.56.
All the top-three athletes, as well as any call-backs, will compete next Thursday at the Warsaw Boys Track Regional. The top three athletes at the regional will qualify for the IHSAA Boys Track State Finals June 2 at Indiana University.