PORTAGE | Stars shined in all their glory at Thursday's Portage Sectional.
Chesterton's Joe Troop broke a 31-year-old record in the 400-meter run, clocking a 48.29, helped the 3,200 relay to a win, placed third in the 100 and nearly rallied from far back to catch Portage's Alvin Best in the 1,600 relay.
Troop's teammate Justin Zosso bested his own meet mark in the pole vault, soaring 15 feet, 6 inches.
Portage's Jeron Blake took the 100 and 200 and ran on the winning 1,600 relay.
LaPorte's Mitch Hubner continued his distance dominance, rolling in the 800 and 1,600, and helping two relays advance.
None of those athletes wear the color green, but it was Valparaiso that took the title, topping the defending champion Indians and Chesterton, 139-132-127.
The Vikings won three events: high jump (Jordan Romanov), 110 hurdles (Andrew Kittridge) and 3,200, where Peyton Reed and Ahmad Aljobeh went 1-2 for a big late-meet points push.
"We have what's been called depth. We kind of think of it as being a team," Valpo coach Brett Polizotto said. "That's not to take away anything from anybody else. We try to teach them that as long as they come out and give it their best effort, good things will happen."
Troop became the first runner in the state to break 49 seconds this season, eclipsing the 1981 meet record of Kankakee Valley's Bryan Leturgez in the process.
"I came out of the blocks really fast, then I settled down," Troop said. "I was taking it really easy, which is why I had so much kick at the end. To be honest, I was really surprised. I didn't think I'd bust 49 until the very end, but I went 49.11 last year, so I knew it was within reach."
Zosso's record came with a flair for the dramatics. He missed his opening two vaults at 13-6.
"It was a little scary," he said. "It was pretty good weather. I like it warm. I hadn't PR'd since indoors. I'm pushing for 16. That's my main goal."
Hubner (1:54.25 in the 800, 4:17.43 in the 1,600) didn't break any records, but was still in a class by himself.
"I went a little earlier than normal (in the mile), and I had such a big kick, I really thought I was going so slow (in the 800)," Hubner said. "My legs were exhausted. I was just racing to win, pushing myself, because that's what I'm going to have to do the next couple weeks."
Blake's night may have been even better had Portage not false started in the 400 relay, where it was top seed.
"Coach (John Kappes) just told us all to forget about it and put points up in other areas," Blake said. "I was focusing on trying to finish out my races, because at the DAC I cramped up. Coach told us to bounce back and show everybody who's really the best."
Teammate Joey Little measured a personal-best 57-9 in winning the shot put by nearly six feet.
"I had a really nice progression and normally when that happens, something big happens, like a 57," Little said. "It's like a little levee you have to get over."
Indian Othie Freeny showed his old form in the 300 hurdles, checking at 39.62.
"I came prepared," Freeny said. "I did horrible at conference. I didn't want to relive that again. I just came back and worked hard to get my form back. My dad was here, too, which gave me the drive. I wanted to impress him."