AKRON – Tippecanoe Valley had plenty to gain in its final home track dual of the season. Despite the short end of the pair of losses to Manchester in both boys and girls ledgers Thursday, the Vikings had plenty to celebrate as the track season really begins to pick up.
“We’ve been working hard coming back from Spring Break and missing that week, then this wind. We were really happy to see the progress we made today against Manchester,” said Tippecanoe Valley track coach Jen Moriarty.
Manchester won the boys contest 68-55 and the girls contest 88-40 in conditions that had the wind turbine working overtime with gusts blowing left to right at over 20 miles per hour at times.
The end of the meet produced much better results for the Vikings than the beginning, which was ironic as the wind really began to whip about an hour into the meet, producing quite a headwind on the second turn into the final straightaway. Both sides noted its effect, beating down runners – especially the distance corps – after getting blown sideways on the back stretch. But that didn’t deter Valley from closing the meet with some quality efforts.
Valley’s boys had some big highlights, starting in shot put where the Vikings went one-two-three led by freshman Wade Melanson at 39-1.5 and Brant Norris at 39-1. Jose Rivera took third in the event for the Viking sweep. The Vikings also went one-two in the two-mile, led by Mitchell Smith’s 12:00 coast with Dylan Wood racing into second place at 12:08.
Matthew Howes showed some grit in winning the mile going away at 5:08 and freshman Rex Kirchenstein was part of three wins, joining Howes and company for a 4×400 relay win at 3:50 and also taking both the 100 (11.53) and 200 (24.68) dashes.
“I was really proud of how our boys distance performed today,” Moriarty said. “Taking three of the top four spots in the mile and two-mile is impressive considering Manchester usually dominates those events. I even had Maria Henderson come up to me and ask if she could run the two-mile, something she hasn’t run before. So that was exciting to see her not only run it, but then score a point for us.”
The Valley girls did most of their damage in the sprints, with Sarah Tucker winning the 200 at 29.69, Sidney Wagner taking the 800 at 2:45, and the 4×400 relay closing the meet with an impressive 4:37, anchored by a determined Sophie Bussard. Wagner also added a pole vault win, 6-0, which she was uncontested but also trying the event for the first time.
Moriarty noted much of the Viking girls are in that boat in trying new events for the first time. And along with a boys team that has over half its roster as freshmen and sophomores, Thursday was more than encouraging.
“Our team was hit with some big losses in graduation coming into this year, and we’ve asked some freshen and sophomores to step into some big shoes,” Moriarty said. “Rex in the sprints, Wade Melanson winning shot, just a lot of freshmen coming in and helping right away. The girls, we are down numbers, but the girls are taking on that challenge. Just excited with where we are at for both teams. They are asking to do more, work harder. You can’t ask for more as a coach when a kid asks you, ‘what else can I do?’”
Manchester was highlighted by a pair of boys hurdles wins from Dominic Lincoln, going 17.22 in the 110 and 46.28 in the 300. Katie Barker went 17.05 in the 100 hurdles and 55.33 in the 300 hurdles and Gabbie Brewer added a long jump of 13-11.5 and 4-8 high jump on the girls side.
Tippecanoe Valley returns to action next Tuesday at Wabash.