FORTVILLE — The last time the Shelbyville boys track and field team won a conference championship, James Dean was rising to Hollywood immortality through the films “East of Eden” and “Rebel Without a Cause,” Ray Kroc started McDonald’s and both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were mere newborns.
That was 1955.
Thursday, the Golden Bears ended their 59-year title drought in fine fashion, tallying 12 top-three finishes and five event victories to bring home their first-ever Hoosier Heritage Conference Championship.
In claiming its first conference crown since winning the 1955 South Central Conference title, Shelbyville registered 133.5 points, ahead of runner-up Greenfield-Central (115) and host Mt. Vernon (104).
New Palestine (90), Pendleton Heights (87), Yorktown (33.5), New Castle (34) and Delta (25) were fourth through eighth.
Golden Bears senior Daniel Kuhn – running high school track this season for the first time in his prep career – was the meet’s top individual winner, claiming titles in the 800 meters, long jump and anchoring the 3,200 relay. Kuhn – a Trine University (Ind.) baseball commit batting .377 for the Class 4A No. 6 and HHC-leading Golden Bear baseball team – also anchored 1,600 relay for Shelbyville, bringing the squad from sixth to second over the course of his 400 meters.
Alton Anspaugh (3,200) and Benjamin Lock (pole vault) also won for newly-crowned champs. Anspaugh, Garrett Reinhart and Clifford Floyd were the first three legs of the victorious 3,200 relay.
G-C boys track coach Scott Burton knew it would be an uphill climb to try and topple the Golden Bears’ top-to-bottom talent.
“With the couple times we’ve seen them this year – we saw them in a three-way meet with New Pal and at Greensburg a couple weeks ago – and just looking at the seeds and knowing what they had coming back from last year, I figured it would be tough to compete with them,” said Burton, who guided the Cougars to a HHC championship in 2012. “I had them as the clear No. 1 coming in and I knew it would be tight from second to fifth.”
Thrower Tyler Beeson was G-C’s top performer, winning the discus and shot put. At the 2013 HHC Meet, Beeson, a two-time state qualifier in the shot put, failed to place in the top three of the discus and was the bronze medalist in the shot put. The Oakland City University (Ind.) recruit swept the shot put and discus at last week’s Hancock County Meet and seems to be rounding into form at the perfect time.
Senior hurdler Austin Felts was the Cougars’ other victor, prevailing in the 300 hurdles ahead of Shelbyville’s De’Shaun French – a 2013 state qualifier in the 110 hurdles – and Mt. Vernon’s Andrew Payne, who took second and third, respectively.
“He’s really come on all year,” Burton said of Felts, the county champ in the 300 hurdles. “I was looking at some of his times from previous years and he’s dropped almost four seconds since he was a freshman in the 110 and six or seven seconds in the 300. So, he’s just continued to develop.”
Other noteworthy performances from G-C came from Conner Shaw (second in pole vault); Michael Sosnowski (third in 400), Jason LaFord (third in 800); Zach Bishop (third in 3,200); Logan Addington (third in shot put); Zach Phillips (third in discus) and the third place 1,600 relay of Sosnowski, Felts, Austyn Tift and Scott Prewitt.
“I told them on the bus on the way here that I wasn’t concerned about times; it was about stepping up, getting places where we could and competing,” said Burton, whose squad will be joined by New Palestine and Shelbyville at the Warren Central Sectional next Thursday. “And just based from where we were seeded to what we wound up with, we were plus-22 points. So we exceeded what we were supposed to do in the meet and I’m happy with the way everyone performed.”
Marauders net three wins, prepare for sectional battle
In claiming third place for the second straight year, the Marauders had three winners.
The first came via Aaron Rush in the 1,600. Rush, a sophomore who qualified for the state cross country meet in the fall, made his move on the second of lap of race, securing a lead he would not give up. Pushed hard by Anspaugh, the 2013 HHC 1,600 runner-up, Rush held steady to win by less than a second, clocking in at four minutes, 28.86 seconds. Anspaugh timed in at 4:29.46.
“Rush had a great race and a great night,” said MV boys coach Bruce Kendall, who noted that Rush battled through a foot injury. “He made the right moves at the right time and didn’t come apart in the last lap.”
Mt. Vernon’s second blue ribbon came by way of the 400 relay, which repeated as conference champs. The black and gold were in a virtual tie with Yorktown heading into the final exchange between Brendan Bradfield and Caleb White, but White switched on the afterburners down the homestretch to seal the victory. Brayton Shannon and Andrew Payne ran the first two legs. White and Payne were on the winning 400 relay last season.
“The best thing about the 4x1 is … there’s nobody that’s outstanding in that relay, but collectively, they do just fine,” Kendall said. “Shannon is not the fastest kid on the team, but you put a baton in his hand and he’s a missile.”
Corey McAllen was MV’s final winner, clearing 5-6 to win the high jump. Four other leapers also cleared 5-6, but McAllen won by virtue of having zero misses at 5-6. Five other high jumpers cleared 5-4.
“This is the difference between 10 jumpers,” said Kendall, chuckling while holding his thumb and pointer finger closely together to illustrate how close the event was. “That’s nuts.”
The Marauders notched runner-up finishes from Wyatt Gutierrez in the discus and the 3,200 relay of Ross Houk, Brisco Wood, Andrew Thaxton and Jordan House. Payne was also third in the 110 hurdles.
Pendleton Heights is set to join host Mt. Vernon at next Thursday’s sectional, with the other sectional title competition coming from Anderson.
Kendall has some tough decisions ahead of him in the coming week as he weighs individual and team accomplishments.
“It’s pretty darn close. It’s really a three-horse between us, Anderson and Pendleton,” he said. “The problem is you can arrange your team to win a sectional and diminish their chances to advance to state. (Or) you can arrange your team to get the kids to advance to state, but then you diminish your chances to win the meet. So you go into this thing thinking, ‘Can we win this?’
“It’s a chess game. We have a chance to win.”
Poturalski paces New Pal
A week after a triumph in the 400 at the county competition, Chris Poturalski had all the confidence he needed going into Thursday’s conference gathering.
The junior led from start to finish in the 400, timing in at 51.07 to garner the victory.
“I was just going to try and win and not go for time,” Poturalski said.
After finishing fifth in the 400 at last spring’s Connersville Regional – two spots shy of state qualification – the junior is eyeing a June 7 trip to the State Finals.
In the taking fourth at the HHC Meet for the second year in a row, the Dragons received top three placements from Seth Eagleson (second in 3,200); Josh McKean (second in shot put); Zac Chester (second in long jump, third in high jump); Andrew Fluegel (third in high jump); and the 400 relay of Chester, Fluegel, Adam Brickens and Andriy Vlashlyn (third in 400 relay).
“I think we did pretty well,” Poturalski said. “We can step it up more though.”
Notes: Delta’s Mason Bechdolt won the 110 hurdles and 200 meters, breaking Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet records in both races. … French, the runner-up in the 110 hurdles, also topped the previous meet record. … Pendleton Heights’ Zack Taylor claimed the 100 and was second in the 200, beating the meet record along with Bechdolt in the latter race. … The quartet of Taylor, Casper Guldager, Chandler Wilson and Ashton Wilson won the 1,600 relay for the Arabians. … Rushville, now a member of the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference, won the 2013 HHC Meet. … Greenfield-Central and New Palestine are at the Connersville Regional May 29; Eastern Hancock – running at the Mt. Vernon Sectional – and MV are at the North Central Regional.
Hoosier Heritage Conference Boys Track and Field Championships, Thursday at Mt. Vernon.
1. Shelbyville 133.5
2. Greenfield-Central 115
3. Mt. Vernon 104
4. New Palestine 90
5. Pendleton Heights 87
6. Yorktown 35.5
7. New Castle 34
8. Delta 25
Top 3 individual/relay results
100: 1. Taylor (PH) 11.17; 2. Upchurch (NC) 11.31; 3. Laker (SH) 11.49
200: 1. Bechdolt (DE) 22.42*; 2. Taylor (PH) 22.57#; 3. Upchurch (NC) 23.28
400: 1. Poturalski (NP) 51.07; 2. A. Wilson (PH) 52.57; 3. Sosnowksi (GC) 52.72
800: 1. Kuhn (SH) 2:01.64; 2. Reinhart (SH) 2:05.00; 3. LaFord (GC) 2:07.22
1600: 1. Rush (MV) 4:28.86; 2. Anspaugh (SH) 4:29.46; 3. Young (PH) 4:29.95
3200: 1. Anspaugh (SH) 9:50.22; 2. Eagleson (NP) 9:56.38; 3. Bishop (GC) 9:57.52
110 hurdles: 1. Bechdolt (DE) 14.51*; 2. French (SH) 14.62#; 3. Payne (MV) 15.28
300 hurdles: 1. Felts (GC) 41.30; 2. French (SH) 42.71; 3. Payne (MV) 43.16
400 relay: 1. MV (Shannon, Payne, Bradfield, White) 45.18; 2. YT (McKeighan, Allen, Tate, Melham) 45.56; 3. NP (Fluegel, Brickens, Vlashlyn, Chester) 45.77
1600 relay: 1. PH (Taylor, Guldager, C. Wilson, A. Wilson) 3:29.81; 2. SH (Graham, French, Reinhart, Kuhn) 3:35.75; 3. GC (Sosnowski, Tift, Prewitt, Felts) 3:36.02
3200 relay: 1. SH (Reinhart, Floyd, Anspaugh, Kuhn) 8:17.61; 2. MV (Houk, Wood, Thaxton, House) 8:23.77; 3. PH (Cook, Winn, Hutchison, Ralston) 8:23.80
High jump: 1. McAllen (MV) 5-6; 2. Martin (SH) 5-6; 3. Chester (NP) 5-6
Pole vault: 1. Lock (SH) 12-6; Shaw (GC) 12-3; 3. Gill (SH) 11-6
Long jump: 1. Kuhn (SH) 20-8.75; 2. Chester (NP) 20-03; 3. Fluegel (NP) 19-07.5
Shot put: 1. Beeson (GC) 52-10; 2. McKean (NP) 50-11; 3. Addington (GC) 48-06
Discus: 1. Beeson (GC) 155-10; 2. Gutierrez (MV) 140-05; 3. Phillips (GC) 138-06
*HHC Meet Record #Also beat previous HHC Meet record