MARION | On the three-hour bus ride to Marion, Merrillville junior Austin Jamerson wasn't sure what to expect at Saturday's Hoosier State Relays.
Considered the indoor state meet for boys and girls, the HSR is conducted by the Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches and draws top competitors from around the state. So Jamerson knew he'd be tested in the meet at Indiana Wesleyan's Troyer Fieldhouse.
All he did was win the high jump at 6-foot-6, place third in the 55-meter hurdles in 7.61 seconds and finish ninth in the long jump at 21-8 3/4.
"I was hopeful for my results, but with the long bus ride I was skeptical," said Jamerson, with two medals hanging on his neck. "It's always a high level of competition at an indoor state meet, and there were plenty of people pushing in the high jump."
Jamerson actually tied with Alex Rowe of Ben Davis in the high jump, but made 6-6 on the second jump while Rowe cleared it on his third.
"My best is 6-7 1/2, but I just did that last week so 6-6 is pretty good for me," Jamerson said.
The meet began at 8 a.m. with the small schools (Class A, 2A and 3A), and continued into the early evening with the big-school (Class 4A and 5A) meet.
Three-time state cross country champion Futsum Zeinasellassie of Indianapolis North Central had the fastest qualifying time by nearly 30 seconds in the 3,200-meter run, but was a late scratch.
"I thought he was going to be in there and it would have been cool to line up with him," Valparaiso junior Peyton Reed said. "I don't know what happened. They just said Futsum didn't show up."
That opened the door for Reed and senior teammate Ahmad Aljobeh to take the spotlight. Reed stayed with leader and eventual winner Patrick Appleton of Carmel, falling off the pace the last couple of laps to place fourth in 9:38.1.
"I was in sixth place and I was trying to hold that," Reed said. "When Appleton started pulling away, I should have stayed with him. I'm happy I got fourth, it's a lot better than last year."
Aljobeh, slowed during the fall season by a severe left ankle injury, had a qualifying time that put him in the second heat. He won the heat in 9:39:09, good enough for sixth place overall and a spot on the awards stand with Reed.
"I wasn't really going for a certain time because I know this is a stepping stone," Aljobeh said. "My ankle is fine, but I do feel a bit of soreness."
In the morning session, Bowman Academy senior Cornelius Strickland was region's only individual winner.
He captured the 55-meter dash title in the small-school meet in a time of 6.44. Strickland also ran a leg on Bowman's first-place 800 relay team that finished in 1:33.98.
Other highlights included Morgan Twp. junior Alec Kostelnik placing fourth in the 3,200 in 9:31.2.
In the small-school girls meet, Bowman's Chayil Henderson placed third in the 55 in 7.43. Andrean's Becca Conley was fourth in the 3,200 (11:35.96).