ROCK FALLS – There were no secrets heading into the final event Friday night at the Rock Falls Invitational.
The host Rockets held a slim lead over Bureau Valley through 17 events, but the Storm had the top-seeded foursome entered in the 1,600 relay. Win that race, or at least finish two spots ahead of Rock Falls, and BV would take the team title.
That's exactly what happened. Bureau Valley raced to a comfortable win, Rock Falls placed fifth, and it was the Storm who claimed their second Rocket Invitational title in the past 4 years. BV finished with 121 points, while Rock Falls had 115.33.
"This feels pretty good," said Kane Eastwood, who anchored the 1,600 relay. "We lost a lot of points from our team last year, but we have some new guys filling in."
Eastwood, Colton Peterson, Daniel Trone and Tucker Schoff raced to a time of 3:32.39 in the 1,600 relay, more than 5 seconds ahead of runner-up Polo. Rock Falls was never a factor in the race, and took fifth in 3:41.3.
"That was the crew that we wanted to put out there," BV coach Jeff Ohlson said, "and they went out and executed. That group's been moving around a little bit. There's five of them that I move in and out every meet, and we felt pretty confident we'd be OK if we could just get to that 4 by 4."
Peterson, Eastwood and Schoff also won individual events. Peterson (53.15) edged Trone (53.18) in the 400; Eastwood easily won the 800 in 2:01.74; and Schoff led the way in the 300 hurdles (40.72).
The other champ for the Storm was Hunter Schoff, who cleared 9 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault. It was just his second time competing in the event.
"It was a team effort," Ohlson said. "Everybody contributed. Probably the biggest the thing was the 200. Michael Eastwood, a freshman, snuck out of the second heat and got fifth, and Will Conneck got third in the fast heat. Those are some big points right there."
Leading the way for Rock Falls was freshman Brayden Hamblen, who swept the two long distance events. He sliced 6 seconds off his previous best in winning the 3,200 in 10:01.08, and set a meet record in the process. The previous record was 10:01.9, set by Hall's Scott Janusick in 2010.
"Me and Seth [Williams], my running partner, our goal was to break that meet record, and I just went out and got it, I guess," Hamblen said. "We were perfect. It was 5-flat for the first mile, so all I had to do was come in at 5-flat again, and that's what happened."
In the 1,600, Hamblen overtook Newman's Bryson Reyes in the final 200 meters to pull away for a win in 4:40.04. Reyes was second in 4:40.77.
The Rockets' other win came from the 400 relay team of Adrian Villa, Trenden Schwindenhammer, Brandon Boyer and Jordan Stark. They were clocked at 45.72 seconds.
Newman finished third with 105 points, just out of the team title hunt. The Comets lost 10 first-place points when its 800 relay team was disqualified for an illegal handoff. Also, their top distance runner, freshman Chris Ahlers, was sidelined with a hip flexor, costing them more potential points.
Leading the way for Newman was sophomore Brady Rude, who won the 100 (11.39), 200 (22.75) and long jump (20-10). He also ran the anchor leg of the 800 relay that was DQed. Coaches had that Comet grouping timed in 1:33.6, which would have been good enough to win by nearly 2 seconds.
"I'm not satisfied, but I think I'm improving," Rude said. "I'm getting there. I PRed in the long jump and 200, so that was good. I've just got a few things I need to work on."
Single-event winners for the Comets were Regan Todhunter in the 110 high hurdles (16.46) and Nolan McGinn in the triple jump (41-3).
The Comets' 3,200 relay foursome of Quincy Coomes, Drew Rosengren, Reyes and Micah Trancoso blazed to a meet-record time of 8:31.81. The old mark of 8:37.47 was a set 2 years ago by Bureau Valley.
Polo was fourth as a team with 86 points. Leading the way for the Marcos was Brian Cavanaugh, who cleared 6-2 to win the high jump, and went 40-10 1/4 to place second behind McGinn in the triple jump.
The Marcos also took advantage of Newman's problems in the 800 relay to win that event. Max Barkalow, Cavanaugh, Kevin Cheeseman and Nathan Stukenberg won in 1:35.31.
Top 3 teams1. Bureau Valley 121, 2. Rock Falls 115.33, 3. Newman 105