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Newman switches off mind in Hawks’ 1,600 relay win

Muscle memory

Oregon's Ashton Rutherford clears the bar during Thursday's Big Northern Meet at Landers-Loomis Field. Rutherford was the lone competitor to clear 13 feet, 6 inches.
Oregon's Ashton Rutherford clears the bar during Thursday's Big Northern Meet at Landers-Loomis Field. Rutherford was the lone competitor to clear 13 feet, 6 inches.

OREGON – Jim Spratt had some advice for Garrett Newman about 45 minutes before the 1,600 relay. 

“What I need you to do is stop thinking,” Spratt said. “No thinking.”

Newman had a quick retort for his coach. 

“I haven’t been thinking for about 2 weeks now.” 

Newman backed up his statement by switching off his brain as the soggy Big Northern Meet came to a close Thursday night at Landers-Loomis Field.

He ran a smooth final leg for Hawks in the 1,600 relay, as they closed the meet with a win in 3 minutes, 31.01 seconds. He was joined by Tommy McCormick, Pierce Dhaese and Trevor Otten. 

“I think we did really well,” Newman said. “At this point, we couldn’t let the conditions bother us. It’s been like this all season.” 

Newman had a busy night, helping the Hawks to a third-place finish with 79 points.

Burlington Central won the meet with 95 points, edging Winnebago by four points. 

Newman ran in a fourth-place 400 relay, and finished third in the 400 (52.14) and 800 (2:03.22). 

The other event win for Oregon came in the pole vault, in which Ashton Rutherford and Mark Schmidt finished first and second, respectively. 

Rutherford struggled some in the preliminary heights before becoming the lone competitor to clear 13 feet, 6 inches. His vaults dramatically improved after running a preliminary heat in the 110 hurdles. 

“I don’t know what it has been lately, but it seems like after I run the 110 hurdles, I feel a lot better coming back to vault,” Rutherford said. “I think it must warm me up a little bit.”

Rutherford barely missed on his first attempt at 13-6, but cleared on his second try. 

“I came down on top of the bar the first time,” Rutherford said. “I had the height. I just had to clear it.” 

Rock Falls, competing for the second time in the Big Northern since leaving the NCIC, finished eighth with 29 points. 

The Rockets won two events with athletes fighting through ankle injuries. 

Senior Travis Johnson cruised through the 110 hurdles, easily winning with a time of 15.39. The time draws him closer to the 14.94 state cut, his goal for the season.

It wasn’t until the 300 hurdles that he aggravated an ankle injury he suffered during gym class. 

“I rolled it during gym class,” Johnson said. “Tonight, I banged it on the second hurdle in the 300. It didn’t really start bothering me until the end of the 300. I didn’t notice it in the 110 race at all. I think it helped because it was trail leg.”

Classmate Mason Thompson, who sprained his ankle in a game of basketball, was unable to defend his title in the triple jump, but he did win the long jump.

Thompson landed a jump of 20-5 1/2 in preliminaries, which turned out to be good enough to win the meet. The distance is about foot below Thompson’s best. 

Rock Falls coach Eric Bontz limited the number of jumps by Thompson to take pressure of his injured ankle.

“His ankle looks pretty bad,” Bontz said. “We didn’t want to push him too much. We only let him jump once in finals just because he wanted to give it another try.” 

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