BLOOMINGTON | About halfway through the first winner-takes-all race of the 110th annual state track and field finals Friday night, Chesterton led Crown Point in a thrilling 3,200-meter relay race.
Although Fort Wayne Carroll rallied to win the title, Chesterton was runner-up and Crown Point took the bronze.
It set up a big night for both teams, who both finished in the top 15 in the team standings Friday in front of nearly 5,000 fans at the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex at Indiana University.
Hamilton Southeastern took the team title with 65 points. Crown Point was 12th, West Side and Lake Central tied for 13th and Chesterton was 15th.
The Bulldogs followed their third in the 3,200 relay with a third in the 400 relay and took seventh in the 1,600 relay. The latter two broke school records.
Senior Zach Sneiderwine, who missed last season after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, was happy to be a part of both the sprint relays.
“The best part was crossing that finish line and seeing that not everyone was there yet,” Sneiderwine said. “That’s what we came to do — beat whoever we could beat.”
The senior bound for St. Joseph’s in Rensselaer said he couldn’t ask for a better finish.
Teammate Zack Seamon was on the 3,200 relay and 1,600 relay, and Nick Faso doubled up on the sprint relays.
Chesterton’s runner-up 3,200 relay (Nick Barango, Billy Biehl, Tyler Vore and Kevin Kenney) only loses one senior, Barango.
“What an unbelievable year they had,” Chesterton coach TR Harlan said. “They gained a lot of big-meet experience.”
The 1,600 relay that was eighth Friday loses Barango and senior Joe Troop, who was 12th in the 400 Friday. Archie Sullivan, who was fifth in the 400, will be back to lead the frequently overlooked Trojans.
“When it’s a big meet day, all of a sudden, here we are,” Harlan said. “When it’s time to run, our kids come and run every day.”
Long in the tooth: West Side’s Jonvae Johnson has been injured the past two seasons and is still getting the hang of postseason track meets.
The junior sprinter was not without a malady Friday as he was recovering from an ill-timed oral surgery to remove two wisdom teeth Thursday.
“My mental focus was off,” Johnson said. “I was thinking more about my tooth than the races.”
Johnson, who’ll have one more tooth removed next week, had plenty of reason to smile Friday as he took third in the 100-meter dash and fourth in the 200. He also ran second on the Cougars’ seventh-place 400 relay team.
Not hamstrung anymore: Portage senior Jeron Blake’s season was short but productive.
Bothered by a nasty hamstring pull and partial tear in it, Blake missed just about every regular-season meet, including the Duneland Athletic Conference meet, and finally felt healthy at the sectional.
His short run ended Friday when he was seventh in both the 100 and 200, earning a pair of medals. He also led off the eighth-place Indians 400 relay team.
“I’m just fine with any medals I can get at this point,” Blake said. “Just the fact that no one thought I’d make it here was enough to satisfy me.”
Skorupa hangs ‘em up: At 7:24 p.m. region time Rudy Skorupa watched an athlete compete for the last time as a coach.
After star junior Gelen Robinson’s final shot put throw, Skorupa was just a few signed papers and returned keys away from officially retiring. Robinson was the main focus of Skorupa on Friday, and the thrower made sure Skorupa didn’t leave with a wimper by taking second in both throws.
The head coach for 39 of his 40 years with Lake Central’s track program, as well as the head cross country coach for 39 years, all with Lake Central, Skorupa is calling it a career.
“There’ve been a lot of great thing that have happened over these 40 years,” Skorupa said. “Certainly the good has outweighed the bad, and it’s been a very, very rewarding experience overall.”
He’ll still work as a volunteer at L.C. track or cross country meets in the future, and he is always a consulting call away from son-in-law Boomer Nellessen, the girls track and cross country coach at Valparaiso.
Happy to be here and not basic training: Lowell senior Brendon Shanks won the regional last year, then packed his things for Army basic training in Fort Jackson, S.C.
While friends and competitors were hanging out in Bloomington, Shanks was undergoing plenty of scrutiny and a huge physical workload.
“I was pretty much just getting yelled at all the time,” Shanks said.
Shanks was 16th in the 300 hurdles Friday, seventh in the fast heat. He’ll stay in the Army reserves and run track at Calumet College in Whiting in the fall.
“I didn’t do as well as I wanted,” Shanks said. “The fact that I’m here is good. This reminds me that I’m always going to have to train harder, and there are always going to be people trying to be better than me.”