ERIE – With a Class 1A boys state track and field title to defend next week, Newman gave itself a little boost of confidence on Friday night.
The Comets did equal damage on the track and in the field on their way to earning top team honors at the Erie Sectional. Newman finished with 101 points, well ahead of runner-up Erie-Prophetstown, which had 80. The Panthers had edged the Comets at the Three Rivers Meet on Friday.
"We knew it was going to be a tough battle," Newman's Andrew Kobbeman said. "We gave it our all, and we came out on top."
The Comets qualified for state in nine events. Leading the way was sophomore Brady Rude, who won three individual events, and anchored the 800 relay team to a win as well.
The top performance was in the 800 relay, in which he teamed with Micah Trancoso, Nolan McGinn and Ethan Nash to post a time of 1 minute, 31.19 seconds. It was a season best by nearly 2 seconds.
"We finally got our handoffs down," Rude said. "The previous times we ran it, there was always something going on with the handoffs, or one of us wasn't running it. Tonight, it went in our favor."
Rude took advantage of a bad handoff by Erie-Prophetstown's Dvaree Thompson to anchor runner Chris Bauer. The Panthers were leading up until that point, and Rude was able to hold off Bauer at the end.
"Bauer is fast – he can come out of nowhere," Rude said.
Rude's other wins were in the long jump (21 feet, 1/2 inch), 100 (11.42) and 200 (22.57). None were season bests, but he wasn't too concerned about it.
"A first is a first, I guess," Rude said. "We'll see what happens this weekend."
Nolan McGinn had the other win for the Comets, taking the triple jump with a distance of 42-10.
Possibly the Comets' most impressive performance came from its 3,200 relay foursome of Bryson Reyes, Trancoso, Drew Rosengren and Quincy Coomes, which took second with a time of 8:14.13. It was a season best by more than 15 seconds.
"We all knew what was at stake," Trancoso said. "All season long, we knew in the back of our heads that we could qualify in this. It was just a matter of putting the puzzle pieces together. We're all experienced runners, from cross country and having a long postseason in that. We know what it's like to perform on the big stage."
Regan Todhunter made it in both hurdles races for Newman, running 15.5 in the 110 highs and 41.13 in the 300 intermediates. Reyes qualified in the 800 (2:03.26).
Leading the way for Erie-Prophetstown was its core of relays. The 400 team of Grant Ames, Chris Bauer, Jack Bauer and Thompson won in 43.8, while the 800 group of Ames, Kyle Pannier, Thompson and Chris Bauer was second in 1:31.78. That was a season-best time, despite the bad exchange between Thompson and Chris Bauer.
The 1,600 team of Pannier, Chris Bauer, Thompson and Ames took second in 3:28.69. It was a season best by nearly 2 seconds.
Dylan Binion took first in 110 hurdles (15.22), while Jared Cole cleared 13-0 to take the pole vault. He added 3 inches to his best in the process.
Leading the way for Bureau Valley was Kane Eastwood, who was part of three wins for the Storm. He teamed with Daniel Trone, Tucker Schoff and Colton Peterson to win the 1,600 relay in 3:28.63, and Ryan Taylor, Trone and Peterson to take the 3,200 relay in 8:12.48.
Eastwood edged Erie-Prophetstown's Ames with a dive at the finish line in the 1,600 relay. It left him with a nasty strawberry on his right shoulder, as well as a bloody right forearm.
"I used everything I had that last 100 meters to finish," Eastwood said.
Eastwood also won the 800 with a time of 2:01.94.
Also for the Storm, Schoff was in a mix of six state qualifiers in the 300 hurdles. He tied for fourth with Erie-Prophetstown's Binion with a time of 41.45.
Ryan Mayberry was a one-man wrecking crew for Morrison. He won the 400 (50.58), and took second to Newman's Rude in the 100 (11.49) and 200 (22.74).
For Fulton, leading the way were runners-up Rodney Gossard in the triple jump (42-5 1/2) and Bryce Holesinger in the 300 hurdles (40.75).
Gossard and Holesinger teamed with Devin Kuehl and Jason Osborn to take third in the 800 relay. Their time of 1:32.95 beat the qualifying standard of 1:33.74.
Top 3 teams
1. Newman 101
2. Erie 80
3. Fulton 54