Dominant Marauders defend title at Pendleton Heights Invitational

Mt. Vernon’s Andres Langston battles in the 110-meter hurdles during a dual meet against Warren Central on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. ( Tom Russo | Daily Reporter)

PENDLETON — Mt. Vernon’s boys track and field team took coach Bruce Kendall’s plan and tweaked it a bit.

For Thursday’s Pendleton Heights Invitational, Kendall believed if he could get one Marauder in the top four and a second in the next four, they would be in pretty good shape to win the eight-team event, which included three other Hoosier Heritage Conference opponents (New Palestine, Pendleton Heights, Yorktown) as well as No. 18 Roncalli.

His guys did more than that.

Why get someone in the second four when you can get them both up front?

The Marauders had 1-2 finishes in three events, and both Mt. Vernon event finalists in the top four in six other competitions, in a dominating performance at the state’s longest-running boys’ track and field invitational.

They were also either first or second in the three relays, finishing off the meet with a victory in the 1,600-meter relay with Andres Langston, Joseph Bowsher, Wilbert Jones and Andrew Jones hitting the tape in 3 minutes, 30.95 seconds.

Mt. Vernon scored 178.3 points, well ahead of second-place Frankton with 107. The host Arabians were third with 90. State-ranked Roncalli was fourth with 85.5. Yorktown followed with 76.5.

New Palestine placed sixth in the event with 62.33 points, finishing ahead of both Liberty Christian (14) and Lapel (5.33).

“I don’t know where to start, it was such a good day,” Kendall said. “We scored in all events and scored two in every event but one. The sprinters really came through. I don’t know if we’re that strong, but we don’t have a lot of weaknesses.

“Our goal in (the bigger) meets is to score one in the first four and one in the second four in each event. If you do that each event it averages about 10 (points) and you can win the meet with about 140. That’s the goal.”

The Marauders did much more than that.

They finished 1-2 in the 100-meter dash, led by Caden Wildey with a time of 12.00 seconds. Derrick Marble was second in 12.07.

George Burhenn and Bowsher were 1-2 in both hurdle races. Burhenn won the high hurdles in 16.43 seconds. Bowsher took the lows in 43.44 seconds.

Mt. Vernon won the long jump and pole vault, too. Wildey, the only individual double-winner, won the long jump with a distance of 19-feet, 9-inches. Keagan LeBelle, who was also fourth in the long jump, won the pole vault in 12-6.

“It’s a very big meet for us. It sets us up for conference,” Wildey said. “Today we did very well. We have a very balanced team.”

The Marauders were 2-3, in the 400-meter dash and 3,200-meter run. Andrew Jones was runner-up in the 400 in 52.41, edging Langston, who crossed in 52.51.

Reyce Morgan was second in the meet’s longest race with a time of 10:21.81. Samuel Wilson was third in 10:26.46.

Cameron Parsely added a second in the 200 dash (24.88), while Avery Williams finished fourth (25.21).

Marauder distance runners Evan Rappe (4:43.13) and Austin Rush (4:45.32) finished third and fourth, respectively in the 1,600.

New Palestine’s top finish came from Sage Halter, who tied for second in the pole vault, clearing 11-feet. Richard Clevenger was third in the discus with a distance of 145-1.5. New Pal also had a third in the 400 relay.

It was announced prior to the meet that it was the 64th edition of the invitational, the longest-running event in the state.

It started in 1954 and has been held every year but three. It was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. It was also canceled in 1957 and 1995 due to inclement weather.

Mt. Vernon has won six of the last 10 invitationals, including the 2019 event.