North Central Regional Distance Recap
By: Justin Floyd
The North Central Regional had an air of tension as plenty of athletes and coaches were eager to see how their athletes would respond to their training, hoping they could either hit the state standard or grab a top 3 spot in their respective events. Today they would face the challenge against themselves, the clock, other athletes, and the weather which was 85 degrees and humid at 7:00pm.
Boys 4×8 The meet got off to an electric start as the 4×800 meter relay is action packed from start to finish, especially with a state berth on the line. It was even more chaotic for me as I scrambled to get through the gate and up to the press box before the gun went off. However, as my luck would have it I was nowhere close and missed most of the first leg. What I did see was Lawrence Central hand off with a big lead as expected. It was playing out as I imagined it would. Brebeuf, Pike, Mt. Vernon, Muncie Central and Lawrence North would form the chase pack. The gap would dwindle slowly with Pike leading the way and pushing to make it a race. Pike finally pulled even at the 600 meter mark with Muncie Central right on their heels, but just as it seemed LC might give up the lead they surged down the homestretch to cross the halfway point at 3:55. In an interesting tactical move LC put Sectional champ Matt Dorsey in the 3 rd slot and he again pried open the lead to hopefully put in out of reach by the time the anchor legs got the baton. He was on an island the entire leg as he turned in a seemingly pedestrian (for him) split of 1:56. They would cross the line at the 5:51 mark with MC and Pike following through in 5:58/ 5:59. The last leg would be the decisive time for a team to step up and make their mark on the race. LC got out well and maintained their 30 meter lead. At the bell they looked like they were beginning to falter as Pike began to close the gap but would it be too late? Kirkpatrick of Brebeuf also began to surge but they were already out of the money at the bell so it may have been all for naught and may hamper his chances later on. In the end, LC won comfortably (7:50.64) with Pike (7:53.00) closing hard and Muncie Central nearly walking across the finish line to clock a shade under 8 minutes(7:59.61).
Boys 1600 The boys 1600m started without any of the possible big names of the Regional (Dorsey, Futsum, etc) but did not fall short on the excitement factor. The pack went out fairly hard and was led through the first lap by Chandler Ball of LC in 63 seconds. He was trailed by a huge pack that followed right on his heels and contained the other potential favorites in 2 nd and 3rd with Joe Murphy and James Huffman respectively. There were very few changes throughout the next 400 meters except some minor jostling and positioning. Along the home straight, Larry Manuel of Perry Meridian took the lead at 800.
After passing the 1000 meter mark the race really heated up and finally saw someone make a move for the win. That move was James Huffman of NC. He went hard to the lead at 1100 meters and dragged Ball with him with Joe Murphy struggling to make contact. At the bell,
Ball went for broke and changed gears but he failed to shake Huffman as he stayed glued to his heels. Joe Murphy was still in no man’s land between the leading two and the runners chasing. The last 200 meters was pure chaos. Out of nowhere a runner began to surge hard along the backstretch and was putting himself in position for a spot to the state meet and it happened to be Robert Sharkey of Ben Davis. Huffman began to fade around the curve but still held second. Robert Sharkey was still coming on hard and began to pass Murphy as they entered the straight, who was wobbling to the outside of lane 1. There was contact between the two as they battled furiously down the straight. They passed Huffman on the outside but he managed to Huffman latch on at 50m. The last 50 meters all three were running in slow motion as they strided painfully for the line and as it approached they all three lunged and collapsed. It was a corridor of bodies just over the finish line.
800m Matt Dorsey in poll position, Austin leads at 55 sec. Dorsey moves at 300 to go but could not pass before the turn and settled in. At that point the race was over and Austin surged and never looked back clocking 1:53.29 winning by exactly
3200m The final distance event of the night was the boys 3200 meter and there were a few questions on everyone’s mind. Would Futsum take the lead from the gun like sectionals? Would anyone go with him if he did? Would freshman phenom Zach Snider of Brebeuf grab a top 3 spot? The race started an immediately the pack bunched up and the feel of a championship race was on. They were led through 200 meters in 35 by Sammy Tebeje of Pike and Futsum. During the next 200 I noticed something pretty interesting, Futsum was racing in his trainers. It was either one of two things, he was taking the race easy or he was dealing with some sort of injury. My educated guess would be some combination of the two but any injury is obviously not enough to keep him out of the state tournament.
The pack passed through 400 in about71. The pace lulled a bit over the next two laps as Snider took to the lead in 2:23at 800 meters while Futsum hung back in about 6th place. “I wasn’t sure how the race would play out today. If Futsum would go hard from the gun or not? Last time I went out with him I killed myself” said Clapp. After three laps it was clear that none of the runners were going to qualify via the state standard with the pace they were on. Hester said later “I go into it not looking at times as it’s a championship race with the main goal being to qualify for state” adding that he was ready for the race to go out in a more tactical style or a fast race. The main pack that emerged contained Futsum, Spencer Clapp of Cathedral, Snider, Tebeje, Cole Hester of Lawrence Central, and David Behrmann of Ben Davis. With there still being a large pack in the hunt for 3 spots, Clapp acknowledged that he “knew it would be a lot more physical race” as there was definitely jockeying for position.
Nearing the conclusion of the 4th lap Futsum was at the very back of that main pack and to be honest it was hard to tell if he was not feeling well or was just waiting to make his move. They crossed 1600 meters in 4:50 and continued to dawdle until Futsum finally moved up on the outside and threw in a huge surge at 1800 meters, immediately gapping the field by 10, 15, 20 meters, etc.
After the surge it was clear that only two more spots were up for grabs and no more with the
pedestrian pace they were on. Snider was still leading the chase pace pack and upon their change
in tempo Tebeje was spit out the back of the pack. Futsum came through 2400 meters in 7:10 as
the pack followed about 9 seconds later in 7:19. At that point Hester took the lead of pack with
Clapp, Snider with Behrmann of Ben Davis still hanging around.
Futsum hit the bell at 8:22 (72) and the pack at 8:30 (71) with Clapp now leading the way. He hit
the line with a huge burst and did not look back securing his bout for 2nd place early in the last
lap Clapp as Hester and Snider could not follow. To my surprise, Clapp was actually closing the
gap to Futsum and as he kind of chuckled admitting he was “taken off guard”. Clapp took second
with a 60 second last lap finishing in 9:30.00. Cole Hester out leaned Zach Snider (9:34.16 to
9:34.20) after a duel down the homestretch, which saw Hester dive over the line earning him
some track burn along with a guaranteed state meet berth. Hester added that “I knew I had a
young freshman phenom coming up on my shoulder and I wasn’t sure I could go much faster. I
took one look back and thought this isn’t going to happen… That was the second dive I’ve ever
Nuggets and tidbits
– The Ben Davis anchor threw the baton after finishing the 4×100 in second place and
was DQ’d. Coach Cash was visibly not happy with his anchor leg and there were words
exchanged as emotions ran high, he looked to be trying to talk to him but the anchor was
having none of it. Pretty tense. 4 DQ’s overall.
-Jared Burris from North Central/Wabash was in attendance and again, nice to meet some
former Indiana H.S alums, and their parents, good people around these parts.
-Spencer Clapp had several spike marks in his shins and was visibly bloodied from the
jostling during the 3200m. Also he is looking to lower his school record of 9:26 next
week at the state meet.