TRACK AND FIELD: Kings, Panthers reign at county

Apr. 29—The Lewis Cass boys track team made some history Saturday by winning the Cass County Meet at Logansport Memorial Hospital Stadium.

The Kings won with 82.5 points, followed by Pioneer (71), Logansport (57.5) and Caston (27).

The Lewis Cass coaches were unsure of when the last time their boys won the county track meet but that it had been at least 20 years.

Matthew Benner and Jeff Jones are the co-coaches of the Kings. Benner coaches mostly the running events and Jones coaches mostly the field events.

"Every year this is one of the goals. It's been a long time since we've won one of these," Benner said. "That's huge, really. It's one of those things we talked earlier this week, this can lead into a strong finish at the conference and the sectional. We're scoring one or two seniors right now and that's about it. So we've got a lot of points that will be coming back next year and the following year. So if we can keep doing what we're doing now, the future is going to look really good for us."

The Kings won four events. Jed Frey was the county champion in the 200-meter dash (24.62 seconds). Matthew Wallace won the 110 hurdles (:17.44) and Colton Copeland won the 300 hurdles (:44.46). The Kings' 4x100 relay team of Julian Levine, Luke Sparks, Frey and Jaden Figueredo won in :47.19.

"We've got a really strong middle distance/long sprint program," Benner said. "The 200 guys through the 800 guys are pretty solid. We knew we were going to run into Pioneer having a real strong distance program and their 400 guys are solid too. We knew we'd have to pick up seconds and thirds because we knew we probably weren't going to win a whole lot of races but seconds and thirds were going to count for a lot. The field events were big today. We had guys show up in field events that we're talking mostly freshmen and sophomores and they're still learning, but every week we get a little bit better with our field events. Our middle guys are getting faster. We lost a lot from last year, we lost a lot of seniors who scored a lot of points so we weren't expecting all this."

Benner added that Sparks and Figueredo finishing 2-3 in the long jump was big, as was Frey winning the 200. Copeland and Wallace going 1-2 in the 110 hurdles and 1-4 in the 300 hurdles also picked up a big chunk of points. Ben Jay and Kale Skiles also racked up a lot of points in the distance events.

Pioneer junior Leighton Dodt repeated his title as the Fred Kinder Star of Stars. He ran to wins in the 800 (2:07.94) and 1,600 (4:42.01) and also was part of the Panthers' winning 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams.

Dodt put up good times in difficult conditions.

"This headwind is strong. You've just got to put your head down or use somebody to draft," he said. "I'll do hill repeats, I'll run in the wind, you've just got to train for conditions that are unexpected. Even if you're not going to hit a PR you still have to race as hard as you can."

Dodt, who advanced to the cross country state finals for the first time last fall, is going after Kevin Martin's PHS record in the 1,600 this spring.

"I'm still chasing the mile school record. It's been hard, the conditions have been hard for me. I'm still in the 4:40s. I've got to get down to our school record of 4:25," he said. "It's been held since I believe 1981. I'm the first guy to go to state in cross country since that guy. So you've just got to keep pushing every day, you've got to keep putting in the mileage in and the speed and you've just got to work. My name will be up there hopefully forever and I want to make history again. That's the main goal."

Dodt teamed with Jackson Baker, Carson Meyer and Ian Kitchell to win the 4x400 in 3:36.04 and the 4x800 in 8:44.04.

"The 4x4, it's our same guys that's in the 4x8, this squad is magical," Dodt said. "We really do work together and it's unbelievable how well us four are fluent in running. Nothing compares to us I feel like in this area."

Also for the Panthers, Meyer won the 3,200 (10:24.41) and Kitchell was first in the 400 (:52.05). Liam Rouch won the shot put (38 feet, 10 inches), Austin Brooke was tops in the high jump (6-0) and Rylahn Toloza won the long jump (20-1 3/4).

Toloza injured his knee during the long jump, Pioneer coach Teresa Montgomery said. She added he missed the first part of the season with a separate ankle injury. Toloza missed the sprint events Saturday due to his knee injury. Montgomery is hoping Toloza can return to track by the end of the season but added they have to take into consideration is he going to play football at Trine University.

Logansport had a pair of freshmen win county titles, as R.J. Clem won the discus (113-0) and Jackson Wicker was tops in the pole vault (9-6).

Caston freshman Landen Rigney was the 100-meter champion (:12.41).

Pioneer's girls team repeated as county champs with 89 points. The Panthers were followed by Logansport (76), Lewis Cass (59) and Caston (19).

Pioneer sophomore Aspen Moolenaar won the 300 hurdles (:51.10) and pole vault (9-0) and was also part of the winning 4x100 relay team. Coach Montgomery noted that Moolenaar had a fall in the 100 hurdles or she would have likely tied Cass sophomore Aftin Griffin for the Fred Kinder Star of Stars award.

Violet Montgomery swept the 1,600 (6:00.52) and 3,200 (12:52.9) for the Panthers. Michelle Harding won the long jump (16-3 3/4). Moolenaar, Keirsten Nies, Michelle Harding and Rachel Harding won the 4x100 relay in 52.49 seconds.

"We are numbers, finally we have some numbers," coach Montgomery said. "If you're out there, if you're competing, we need a point from you. I really didn't know how we would do after Aspen wrecked at the end of her race because we thought she would probably share that Star of Stars award with Aftin today. She was going to sweep her events as well. Then Blair [Grigsby] kind of hurt her ankle because she saw what happened and she tripped up too a little bit. So there were a few things where I wasn't really sure how it was going to go. Somebody came up and asked me how are we doing on points, I was like I have no idea, we're just going one race at a time. If you're out here we're just trying to score points for the team. We have a large team this year so there were a lot of kids who weren't able to compete today. So if you're getting out here you need to score points."

Violet Montgomery gave the Panthers a boost in the distance events. Coach Montgomery said her daughter's times weren't where she wanted them but added the team has had several meets canceled and Saturday was just the fourth meet of the season they've been able to compete in the 3,200. She said Violet ran a 12:01 in March.

"Today we came in and what I really wanted from the kids is just to compete," coach Montgomery said. "I don't really care what your times are, we are racing against other people. I've seen especially my mile runners, they are getting that race mentality. They're not just running the mile anymore, they are racing the mile."

Griffin is now 2-for-2 in winning the Fred Kinder Star of Stars award on the girls side. She swept the sprint events Saturday, winning the 100 in 13.73 seconds, the 200 in :27.21 and the 400 in 1:01.42. She was also a part of the winning 4x400 relay.

"Not the best times today but that was kind of expected with the wind," she said. "I'm glad the rain didn't hit us so that was nice. And it wasn't a cold day, it was at least sunny and not rainy. So not too bad of a day I'd say."

Griffin flies around the track at high speeds. But she said the 30 mph wind gusts Saturday affected her more than most, as she stands in at 5-foot-1, 93 pounds.

"Not a whole lot to keep me steady on the ground so sometimes I'll blow into the other lane and everything," she said.

Griffin added she's hoping for a return trip to the State Finals in June.

"Obviously the big goal is I want to make it to state. It's looking like times are going to be a lot harder to reach state this year. But I just want to keep working hard at it and hopefully that's the end goal is to make it to state," she said. "If I keep improving, drop a second off, I could be top five at state hopefully by senior year. That's a good goal, I think."

Mylie Sipe swept the shot put (29-7) and discus (98-2) for the Kings. AnnaLeigh Hedrick, Brystallin Gillem, Faith Helvie and Griffin won the 4x400 in 4:19.92.

Logansport had three individual champions and a relay win. Ashanta Curry won the high jump (4-10), Audrey Graham was first in the 800 (2:41.09) and Adyson Porter won the 100 hurdles (:17.19). Frida Purtak, Nathalia Hernandez, Graham and Jacqueline Hernandez won the 4x800 in 11:13.44.