MV relay places third, team 11th at IHSAA state track and field meet

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Mt. Vernon’s 1600 relay team of, from the left, Wilbert Jones, Tristan Trevino, Andres Langston and George Burhehnn placed third in the state at the 2022 IHSAA Boys Track and Field State Finals on Saturday, June 4, at Bloomington’s Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex.

BLOOMINGTON — Coach Bruce Kendall, in his 47th year as Mt. Vernon’s head boys track and field coach, couldn’t believe it.

“They left the door wide open,” he said of the opposition in his team’s heat of the 1600-meter relay.

“They opened the door. They didn’t close it. The three teams that were in front of us didn’t close the door and (Andres Langston) got the inside at 200 meters.

“The lanes are kind of funny. The inside lane is kind of confusing with its coloring, and for whatever reason they gave it to him.”

In the second of three heats of the relay, the final event of Saturday’s IHSAA Boys Track and Field State Finals at Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex on the campus of Indiana University, the Marauders were in fourth place heading to the final leg, run by Langston, who had earlier finished eighth in the 400-meter dash.

Langston got the opening he needed, ran a final lap in 47.81 seconds and left the rest of the field behind to win the heat.

Then, the Marauders had to watch the final race — the fast heat — to see if their school record relay run of 3:20.67 would be good enough to place and earn all-state medals.

It was, in fact, they would have beaten all but two teams in that final race.

The Marauders placed third, the best they have ever done in the 1600 relay. They scored in four of the state meet’s final six events to tally 16 points, finishing 11th among the best in Indiana.

“It was definitely harder probably than any other race,” Langston, who found that open door to the front, said. “The thing that made it harder was definitely getting boxed in. I’d never been boxed before, especially a 400. I had to maneuver through that.”

“I knew we had to be fast to place since we weren’t in the fastest heat,” junior George Burhenn said.

He ran the opening leg and had earlier earned the team’s best placing prior to the relay.

Burhenn ran a 39.27 seconds race to finish fifth in the 300 meter hurdles.

“I handed off to (Wilbert Jones). We all three ran good legs. Then Andres, I saw him get passed and we were fourth at 200 meters. I thought we were going to get fourth and maybe not place. I look up and coach said he was in first with about 50 meters left. I just got so excited. Then, I saw we finished in 3:20, which is a school record, so exciting.”

Burhenn, Langston and junior Tristan Trevino who had earlier finished eighth in the 800 (1:54.57) had all medaled just in the last 90 minutes prior to their heat of the relay.

Mt. Vernon had representation in seven events, but did not score until Langston placed eighth in the 400. The Marauders scored in three straight events, as the 400, hurdles and 800 took place consecutively.

Trevino had less than 45 minutes before the start of the meet’s final race.

“They were all spent after running the 400, IM (hurdles) and the 800. I could barely get them down to check in. They were exhausted,” Kendall said of his record-setting relay team.”

Kendall said the 11th place finish is the best the school has ever done.

“It was a great day for us,” he said. “That whole (score)board is full of 6A (schools) and private (schools), all night. We’re the 4A. There are still schools smaller than us that did great, but it’s a good feeling for us.

“This is a great team. I don’t know if this is the best team we’ve ever had, but it’s the best 4×400 we’ve ever had.”

It was the second straight year the relay team had medaled. Last year the quartet, which included Jones and Langston, finished in fifth place.

“It’s insane. We were in the medium heat,” Jones said of taking home a third-place medal back to Mt. Vernon. “We had to get first and a good time just to have a shot to place. I didn’t expect to cross at 3:20 and get a school record. Andres helped. George helped. Tristan helped and they all had a race on their legs. I was the only one with fresh legs. They made me look like I had races (before the 1600 relay).”

“This feels like a real family,” Trevino added. “It feels so good to do something. Coming here, my main thing was I am going to be running against Indiana’s best. I realized we are Indiana’s best. We are one of the best teams. That’s not bragging, but you have to realize it. It was such a good experience. I am so glad I am with these guys. It was a perfect day.”

The day didn’t go as well for the other Hancock County competitors from Greenfield-Central and New Palestine.

No other team earned points in the meet that was won by Plainfield, with a total of 61.

Greenfield-Central, which had participants in four events came the closest with sophomore Elliot Ryba in the high jump.

He cleared 6-feet, 4-inches and finished 10th, just one spot from earning a state medal.

Ryba placed fifth at the sectional and did not earn a spot in the regional until he received a call back to fill the field. He took advantage of the opportunity, clearing 6-6 and placing second to earn a spot at the state meet.

“For Elliot, this is still his second-best day ever,” Greenfield-Central coach Aaron Smith said. “I really wanted him to get 6-4 for sure. I know he is disappointed he didn’t get 6-6 and didn’t finish top nine. As a sophomore, hopefully he has two more years here. He was our highest finisher.”

Ryba didn’t start high jumping until late last year.

“It wasn’t what I hoped, but I still made it to state and got my second best jump of the season,” Ryba said. I started the season a foot lower (5-6) than what I ended up doing and I got 6-4 today.

“It’s crazy. If you would have told me two years ago that I would do high jump. I wouldn’t have believed you. Fate took over, I guess.”

New Palestine junior pole vaulter Jack Rossell got a call back to earn a spot, but unfortunately his day ended before it got started.

A left hip injury forced him to pull out of the competition.

“I knew before the state meet my hip was messed up. My first warmup, it was fine. My second warmup I heard my hip pop,” Rossell said. “I scratched at my opening height at 12-feet, hoping it might clear up and I’d give it a go at 13-feet, but I had to scratch there, too.

“It’s been bothering me since the (Hoosier Heritage) Conference meet and was slowly getting worse. I was hoping I had one more meet in me. I probably should have waited (until next season), but it’s state. I wanted to be at state. I made it here. I got to see it and I will be ready for next year.”

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