MORRISON – Erie-Prophetstown's strategy to spread the wealth led it to many riches, in the form of a first-place trophy, at the Three Rivers boys track and field meet on Monday.
The Panthers won just four events, but racked up points everywhere else in winning their fourth title in the past five seasons. They finished with 105 points, three more than runner-up Newman.
Those two squads were tied with 97 points entering the final event, the 1,600 relay. Erie-Prophetstown placed second in that race to earn eight points, while the Comets were fourth to add five points.
Erie-Prophetstown and Newman figure to battle it out again on Friday, when a Class 1A sectional is held in Erie.
"We didn't load up the relays, like we might do for the sectional," Prophetstown senior Chris Bauer said, "so we could get points in the individual races. I think we got a lot of points first through third, and that helped us win the meet."
"Everyone ran great across the board," Erie-Prophetstown coach Jon Schlagheck said. "We didn't rely on just two or three kids. It was truly a team effort. I don't think we took that many first places, but we had kids score in every event. That was really the key."
The individual wins for the Panthers came from Dylan Binion in the 110 hurdles and Jared Cole in the pole vault.
Binion came within .03 of his top time in the 110 hurdles, winning with a time of 15.01 seconds.
"I ran a good race," Binion said. "It was good competition this year, so I'm excited to see what the sectional brings."
Cole added 6 inches to his personal best in the pole vault by clearing 12-6. Another vaulter, Jacob Gross of Sherrard, cleared that height, but Cole won on fewer misses.
Relay wins were posted by the 400 team of Kyle Pannier, Kody Wetzell, Seth Cameron and Bauer (44.52), and the 3,200 team of Tyler DeVault, Josh Paul, Travis Shipp and Lucas White (8:28.57).
The Panthers were also second in two events (high jump and 1,600 relay) and third in six more (triple jump, 100, 200, 400, 1,600 and 800 relay).
The most compelling competition in the meet occurred in the triple jump, where Newman's Nolan McGinn broke his own school record three different times in taking first place.
In the preliminaries, McGinn uncorked a jump of 43-0 1/2 on his second jump, bettering the school mark of 42-8 he set as a freshman at the state meet in 2012.
That mark didn't last long, however. Fulton's Rodney Gossard, who went 42-7 in the prelims, produced a jump of 43-3 1/2 with his first and only jump of the finals.
Shortly after that, an inspired McGinn took his first finals jump and pieced together a distance of 43-5.
"[Gossard] is a really good jumper, and he's improved a ton this season," McGinn said, "but I really wanted conference. I wanted that title. I got it freshman year and didn't get it last year. I was feeling good today, and I felt if I kept jumping, I'd keep improving, and I was right."
With the pressure off, McGinn took one more hop, skip and jump – and it turned out to be the best. It measured 43-11 1/2, within a whisker of the conference mark of 44-2, set by Bureau Valley's Adam Sanden in 2010.
"It did really free me up," McGinn said. "I just went out there and jumped, trusted my mark, and it worked out."
Junior sprinter Brady Rude established himself as the fastest man in the conference by taking both the 100 (10.97) and 200 (22.54). He also teamed with Micah Trancoso, McGinn and Ethan Nash to take the 800 relay (1:33.03).
It was the first competition for Rude since he tweaked his left hamstring on his first long jump attempt at the Oregon Invitational on May 2. He nosed out Morrison's Ryan Mayberry by .03 in both short sprints.
"Coming back, after not running for 2 weeks, I just wanted to see where I was at," Rude said, "and hopefully edge [Mayberry] out. He's a fast runner. Coming off that 400 right before the 200, it's got to be tough. I give him props for that."
Mayberry was seeded fourth in the 400, but ended up winning the event with a time of 50.49. It was a season best by 1.31 seconds.
"Everyone in my heat was faster than a 53, and there were kids that have run faster times than me," Mayberry said, "so I just gave it all I had and hoped I could finish it off at the end. My legs were just dead at the end, and I thought they were going to catch me."
Bureau Valley, which won the meet 2 years ago to prevent an Erie-Prophetstown five-peat, was led by Kane Eastwood. He won the 800 (2:03.96) and teamed with Daniel Trone, Tucker Schoff and Colton Peterson to take the 1,600 relay (3:30.28).
The only conference record set on Monday was in the high jump. Rockridge's Bryan Heath cleared 6-6, tying the 1984 mark of Savanna's Ron Arb.
1. Erie-Prophetstown 105
2. Newan 102
3. Bureau Valley 85