MANLIUS – The entire Newman track and field team gathered on the infield at Bureau Valley High School once the 1,600 relay had concluded. Once the host Storm were announced in second place with 78 points, there were cheers and high-fives all around for the Comets, who racked up 101 points.
After giving his athletes a few seconds to celebrate, Newman coach Andy Accardi posed his team a simple question: “Who all scored tonight?” All but a couple of hands flew into the air. Those whose hands didn’t rise set personal bests. In all, Newman will send 11 athletes to Charleston next Thursday.
“The bottom line is these kids want so much for every one of their teammates to be successful,” Accardi said. “It shows in practice and the meets. I couldn’t be more proud of them. I thought we’d do well; I didn’t think we’d do this well. Down at state, it’s icing on the cake and have fun and see what the heck happens.”
Easton Bianchi will compete in four events in Charleston. The speedster took first in the 100- (10.78) and 200-meter (22.64) dashes, both under the qualifying times. The junior also anchored Newman’s 400 and 800 relay teams to victories. Along with Connor McBride, Brentin Erickson and his brother Cade, Easton and the Comets ran the 400 relay in 44.34. The star sprinter could claim the 1A crown in the 100 and possibly the 200 if he can replicate a 10.52 performance at
the conference meet and his time Thursday night in windy conditions.
“I’ve been looking at all the times in the state, and looking at my conference time and this, I’m pretty confident going down.”
Erickson also took first in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 42.27. The Bianchis and McBride teamed with Landon Vesley to win the 800 relay in 1:34.32.
Chris Ahlers is headed to state for the fourth year in a row, and third time as an individual. The senior, along with Spencer Mauch, Matt Hodge and Shay Hafner, finished first in the 3,200 relay in a time of 8:18.39. He also ran alone in the 1,600-meter run, winning in 4:30.12. Ahlers should contend for the top spot in the mile, but is also excited to see what the Comets can do in the longest relay.
“I fully expect to contend for the win next week,” Ahlers said. “I’m really looking forward to the relay and my individual event.”
Jacob Heidersheit cleared the state qualifying mark of 6-1 in the high jump, and Karter Decker’s top leap of 40 feet, 4 inches in the triple jump was good for second.
Bureau Valley will send eight athletes downstate next week. Hunter Schoff will compete in the pole vault and 110-meter hurdles. The senior’s time of 17.02 in the hurdles was good for first, and despite only clearing 10-11 in the pole vault, he’s aiming for newer heights in his third year in Charleston for the event.
“My goal all of high school has been 14 feet, so that’s what I’m going for,” Schoff said. “Go big or go home.”
Schoff will be joined by teammate Kale Barnett in the pole vault. Freshman Mac Nugent cleared 6-1 in the high jump to earn a trip to state, and sophomore Payton Moore’s second-place time of 44.26 in the 300-meter hurdles was a half-second
ahead of Schoff’s to make it to Charleston. The Storm’s 3,200 relay team of Kendile Whitford, Austin Catton, Brad Sierens, Kurt Bitting will travel to state after a second-place finish in 8:40.11.
It was skill more than luck for Fulton’s McLuckie brothers Thursday night. Senior Kyle’s top throw of 52-8 in the shot put earned him his first trip to state, and redemption from missing out by 3 inches last year.
“I just want to go down and do the best I can,” Kyle McLuckie said. “Placing would be really nice. Seeing him [Nathan] do good as well would be a plus. I’m happy for him, and I suppose he’s happy for me.”
Nathan McLuckie will compete in three events on the blue track. The junior beat the 100-meter dash qualifying mark of 11.38 by .05 of a second, and will compete in the Steamers’ 400 and 800 relays. Nathan McLuckie teamed with Leo Ernst, Eathan Long and Sam Norman to finish second in the 400 relay (44.96). The younger McLuckie, Ernst, Long and Dayne Holesinger also took second in the 800 relay (1:35.89) thanks to a pair of botched handoffs by Bureau Valley.
“Relays are great, but I’m really happy about the open 100, because last year I didn’t get the chance to,” Nathan McLuckie said.
Morrison’s stable of talented freshman ran roughshod. Koby Brackemeyer beat the qualifying marks in both the 800 (2:00.45) and the mile (4:38.48). Keegan Anderson won the 400 in 51.53, the only runner to go under the 51.80 qualifying mark. Brackemeyer and Anderson will also compete in Charleston along with classmates Evan Wiebenga and Nathan Mickley in the 1,600 relay after winning the final event in 3:36.70. A fearless attitude from his freshman had Mustangs coach Tim Duncan saying the sky is the limit for all of his underclassmen.
“We run our own races and don’t let others determine how we run,” Anderson said.
“Toward the end of the year, we’re both running at fast paces and getting better recoveries,” Brackemeyer said. “Come state when we have an hour break, we’ll be running even faster.”
Amboy’s Thomas Stamberger came up .1 of a second away from meeting the 2:02.66 qualifying mark in the 800. Still, the Clippers’ freshman has 3 more years to earn his berth in Charleston.