BLOOMINGTON | Northwest Indiana, with its coastline dotted by smoke-billowing mills, is known for steel production.
It’s not always full of steel nerves, but it boasts the kind of cold, hard steel that might be used to assemble a hurdle, a high jump rig or a pole vault apparatus.
Local athletes continued raising the bar literally and figuratively Friday night at the 110th annual IHSAA state track and field finals at Indiana University’s Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex.
While various runners had personal bests and graced the medals stand, the region’s forte Friday was leaping over horizontal bars, be they steel, wood or some amalgam of plastic.
Bowman Academy junior Marsalis Gibson brought home the region’s lone championship, winning the 110-meter hurdles in 14.19 seconds.
Lake Central’s Gelen Robinson was runner-up in both throws, E.C. Central’s Kenneth “KJ” Lloyd was third in the high jump and Hobart legacy Nick Stack took fourth in a grueling pole vault competition.
“When I looked at the heat sheet, I had a certain mindset,” said Gibson, who qualified out of the middle heat in the preliminaries.
“I had to change up my mindset and believe that I can win.”
Gibson had been nursing a left hip strain, and it caused him to pull up lame in the 300 hurdles, where he finished 26th.
Bowman’s first state champ in track but the seventh Northwest Indiana 110 hurdles champ in the past 30 years, Gibson, a junior, is verbally committed to run at California-Berkeley.
“When I crossed the finish line I felt (the hip), but I was really happy inside,” Gibson said.
Gibson was among the only truly happy athletes Friday, as Robinson was noticeably upset after falling short in both the shot put and discus.
“I’m actually really disappointed in the way I threw today because it was a really bad day,” said Robinson, whose basketball-playing father and brother were in attendance.
“I hope next year I can come back. Today I just got out-thrown. No excuses; I just wasn’t my best.”
Lloyd, who won the Hoosier State Relays in the indoor season, cleared 6 feet, 6 inches, but the winner cleared 6-8, a height the undefeated senior had managed previously this season.
“My approach was a bit off,” Lloyd said. “I think I maybe had a few issues with my technique, but it is what it is.”
Lloyd had to remove the metal spikes from the bottom of his shoes after they were deemed unusable by officials. Coaches had to run to a nearby Dick’s Sporting Goods for replacements. The starts of all field events were delayed by rain.
“I haven’t lost all year,” Lloyd said, “and then I just came out in the biggest meet of the year and just bummed it up.”
Hobart had four field event medalists, led by Stack, whose uncle Jim was a state champ in the pole vault. Stack’s dad, who was present Friday, was a two-time state runner-up in the event.
Stack, headed to Indiana State in the fall, cleared a personal-best 15-9.
“There was a bit of a tail wind that caused more bend in the poles, and I should’ve gone on to bigger poles,” Stack said. “It’s basically my only loss all year. I’m glad I made a PR and tied my uncle’s best high school height, but I’m not glad that I did not win.”