VALPARAISO | Local track stars had their chance to shine Friday night in the weather-delayed Valparaiso Regional.
A trio of double winners will lead the charge to Bloomington for next Friday's 110th annual boys state meet at Indiana University.
Lake Central junior Gelen Robinson set a regional record in the discus, throwing 200 feet, 4 inches to break the former record of 195-0 set by Andrean's Adam Vrabel in 1997. For good measure, Robinson also won the shot put at 56-1 after being seeded third.
"One of my goals this year was to get 200 feet," Robinson said. "Now that I realize I can, I want to go farther at state.
"Words can't describe how excited I was, but I still have a lot of work to do."
The other double winners were LaPorte junior Anthony Didion in the 800 and 1,600, and Bowman Academy senior Marsalis Gibson in both hurdles events.
Didion used a big kick to win both mid-distance events.
"Coach (Tim) Beres is just amazing and helps us get the best times we've ever run," Didion said. "I didn't even know I had a kick until the first race of this year. I definitely thought I could win the 1,600, and in the 800 I was just hoping to get out."
Gibson won the 110 highs in 14.84 and the 300 lows in 38.41. He said he's hoping to atone for what he called a disappointing performance in last year's state meet.
"I'm still looking for improvement," Gibson said.
In a three-way battle for the team title, Chesterton (63) edged Duneland Athletic Conference foes Crown Point (62) and Merrillville (60). DAC champion Valparaiso was fourth with 50 points, hindered by the loss of senior sprinter/hurdler Andrew Kittridge to a hamstring injury early in the meet.
"I said at the beginning of the year I thought we'd be a big-meet team," Chesterton coach TR Harlan said. "Our depth came through much better than I expected."
Chesterton's lone winner was junior Archie Sullivan in the 400. Ailing last week after having wisdom teeth removed, Sullivan ran a personal-best 49.26 to beat Bowman's Jalen Knight (49.83) and senior teammate Joe Troop (49.98).
The Trojans also picked up points from pole vaulters Brett Lara and Nick Raffin who went 2-3 to qualify for state, and Jacob Andrews was fourth in the 110 hurdles.
The meet got off to a fast start, with Chesterton and Crown Point fighting to a near-record finish in the 3,200-meter relay.
Chesterton sophomore Billy Biehl held off C.P. senior Tom Cierniak at the end. The Trojans' team that included Nick Barango, Tyler Vore and Kevin Kenney clocked a 7:50.60, just .05 off the regional record set in 2000 by Portage.
Portage captured the last automatic qualifying spot, rallying past Valparaiso to take third. But the Vikings (8:01.32) and fifth-place Hobart (8:03.89) ran fast enough to earn callbacks to state. All five regional teams will be in the fast heat, with Chesterton and C.P. (7:51.50) ahead of Fort Wayne Carroll.
"Doesn't surprise me," Harlan said. "All four of those teams have basically run together the entire year. They have all pushed each other, which is a great thing."
Chesterton and C.P. also finished 1-2 in the Duneland Athletic Conference meet, finishing in the 7:49's, which led the state.
"It's not like we did something that we'd never done before," Harlan said. "Our four kids ran great all year. They did exactly what they were supposed to do. At the regional meet, that's what you want them to do."