VALPARAISO | With a robust south wind at Cornelius Strickland's back, the 100-meter dash record was in serious jeopardy at Thursday's Valparaiso Regional.
The Bowman Academy sprinter took advantage, erasing the long-standing track mark (10.5 seconds, 1984 and 1987) and meet standard (10.51, 2002) when he hit the finish line in 10.43.
"My coach said I had to get out (fast) because of the wind," Strickland said. "I really felt it, but it actually made me stronger. It all came together. I feel so blessed, so highly favored. Coach and I have been talking about breaking records all year."
Strickland, the defending champion in both sprints, came back later to handily win the 200 in 21.27.
"My IU coach called me and asked me if he was going to see me in Bloomington," Strickland said. "I have to let him know and tell him about my time."
The wind that may have buoyed Strickland was a deterrent for distance runners and pole vaulters. The latter event was postponed until today at 5 p.m. Lake Central, buoyed by a 1-2 finish in the discus by Gelen Robinson and Dean Kokot, leads Portage, 57-52, in the team race.
"We'll see what happens," L.C. coach Rudy Skorupa said. "We held where we were supposed to place in most events. In a meet like this, the intensity's higher, there's a lot more at stake, but the kids have responded well to pressure all year and they did again."
LaPorte's Mitch Hubner plowed through the headwind to take first in both the 800 and 1,600, pulling away in the final 200 of both races.
"You can tell by the times it was all strategic racing," Hubner said. "It was such a slow start (in the 1,600). I was a little tired, which is why I waited a little longer in the 800. I was afraid I wouldn't have anything left.
Hubner clocked 4:26.69 in the 1,600 to repeat as champ and logged 1:55.71 in the 800, holding off Munster's Tony Rigoni.
"He took off in the backstretch and I was like, 'Holy crap, here we go,'" Hubner said. "But that's how it's going to be at state, so I have to be prepared for that."
Portage's Alvin Best was the top 400 runner on the track, edging Chesterton's Joe Troop, in the open race, 49.46-49.53, and anchoring the top-seeded 1,600 relay to victory in 3:22.65.
"It's a real good feeling to beat one of the top people in the state," Best said. "We went through a little strategy, short (strides) against the wind and long (strides) with it. I prepared all day. Every class, somebody brought me water.
"Once I hit 150 left, I knew nobody was going to be able to catch me. I was really happy with the (relay) guys. If they got it to me with the lead, I would kill myself before I gave it up."
Portage shot putter Joey Little also defended his title, topping Robinson by 10 inches with a toss of 57-5 1/2.
"All my throws were 55 and above again, which is nice to see going into state," Little said.