For the Daily Reporter
FORTVILLE — Marauders track and field coach Bruce Kendall had mixed emotions towards the tail end of Thursday night’s Mt. Vernon Sectional.
Senior Christian Noble had just broken a 30-year school record in the 3,200 meters, and many others among his athletes advanced to next week’s regional, but Kendall was still a bit upset.
“The team had won the sectional four of the last five years, but then they brought Lawrence North in here, so we’ll have to settle for second,” Kendall said.
In Lawrence North’s first year in the Mt. Vernon sectional, they easily won the team championship while Mt. Vernon took second place
“The IHSAA told me it was a clerical error (including Lawrence North in the Mt. Vernon sectional), but they never fixed it, and I doubt they will,” Kendall said.
Even though Lawrence North dominated the team scoring, both Mt. Vernon and Eastern Hancock were able to shine in multiple events and send multiple athletes to the regional.
In 1985, Jeff Wheeler ran the 3,200-meter race in a school-record 9:19.65. That record stood until Thursday night, when Christian Noble lowered his season-best time by 15 seconds to break the record with a time of 9:15.75 and win the sectional crown.
“It all came together for Christian tonight,” Kendall said. “Wheeler set his record on what felt like a 100-degree day, and Christian had perfect weather tonight, but Jeff had chances to run in weather like this too.”
Noble entered the meet confident the milestone was within his grasp.
“I told myself all day I was going to break the record, and I realized with 800 meters left I had a really good chance at it,” Noble said after watching his teammates run an intense 4×400 relay.
Fellow senior Aaron Rush finished second in both the 3,200 and 1,600 to join Noble at the regional next week. Mt. Vernon pole vaulters Lincoln Hine and Kyle Forsythe also finished one-two, with Hine winning the event with a vault of 12 feet 10 inches.
“Coach Leonard’s pole vaulters haven’t lost this sectional in 12 years,” Kendall beamed. “His guys always seem to have their best jumps during this event.”
Other Marauders to advance are: Donovan Bigelow (200 meters), Brisco Wood (800 meters), Wyatt Gutierrez (shotput), the 4×800 relay team and the 4×100 relay team.
More might still advance. Those competitors who did not finish in the top three still have an opportunity to qualify for regional. If their performance was among the best non-top-three finishers in the sectionals feeding into the Connersville Regional, they have a chance at being included in the regional field.
Eastern Hancock coach Clayton Shultz was gushing at the end of the meet: “We’ve had an outstanding night.”
The Royals’ night was highlighted by sophomore Aaron Riley winning the shot put with a throw of more than 47 feet.
“I’ve been coaching here 16 years, and I think we’ve only had one other sectional champion,” Shultz said. “I was telling my assistant coach on the ride over I thought Aaron would throw 47 feet today, and what do you know?”
Riley beat out county rival Gutierrez for the title.
“Riley already had a throw that would have advanced him to regionals,” Shultz said. “But I told him the Mt. Vernon kid was on his tail, and he stepped up and threw 47 (feet).”
Riley’s teammate and fellow sophomore Reece Burkhart will join him at the regional after finishing second in the discus.
Shultz was also thrilled with the performance of Austin Smith, who finished runner-up in the 400-meter run to advance.
“He had a hip injury after football season and was really struggling through this season,” Shultz said. “So I told him just to focus on the 400 tonight, and I feel great for him that it worked out.”
Lawrence North, Anderson, Blue River Valley, Daleville, Eastern Hancock, Knightstown, Lapel, Liberty Christian, Mt. Vernon (Fortville), New Castle, Pendleton Heights, Shenandoah.