Last week, when Churubusco claimed its first sectional track title at North Side, Eagles head coach Zach Dock said the victory was perhaps the most impressive in school history.
It took just a week to pull off an even greater feat for a tiny school in a single-class sport as the Eagles won the Carroll boys track and field regional championship Thursday with 55 points.
“Our guys, they keep believing and they keep producing, and we’re just proud of them,” Dock said. “We’ve worked hard and stayed on track. They keep on training hard and believing in the cause, and that’s a big key.”
Homestead was second with 45 points, Angola third with 43 and Northrop fourth with 41.
Although four different athletes won two individual events on Thursday – Wayne’s Davyion Clark, Leo’s Luke Shappell, Angola’s Alex Meyer and Eastside’s Dane Sebert – Churubusco was able to claim the trophy with two individual event winners and a victory in the 4x400 relay.
The first of those victories came in the 400 meters, where senior Riley Buroff smoked the field in 47.91 seconds, beating runner-up Devonti Carter of Northrop by 1.64 seconds. Huntington North’s Brayden Voght was third in 50.40.
Buroff would go on to finish third in the 200 in 22.26, adding six more points to Churubusco’s team score.
A regional title really came into sight for the Eagles in the 800, where Wyatt Neireiter and Evan Palmer came in seeded second and third.
A lap into the race, Neireiter was running in lane three on the edge of the lead pack, while Palmer was boxed in the middle.
“Everyone was saying it was going to go out really fast, and then we came through the 400 at like 58, which is honestly kind of slow for us,” Neireiter said. “We knew, OK, we have to pick it up from here on out.”
The two Eagles picked it up just a little bit better than everyone else on the track: Neireiter won in 2:00.02 and Palmer was second in 2:00.30. West Noble’s Nate Shaw – who was seeded 15th based on sectional times – took the third and final automatic qualifying spot for next week’s state championship in 2:00.50. The top six all finished within a second of each other.
The Eagles already knew they were in great position heading into the 4x400, but a win in the final event of the night in 3:23.49 allowed the celebration to start early. Snider was second in 3:24.44 and Angola third in 3:26.11.
Churubusco’s Ethan Smith took second in pole vault with a clearance of 14 feet, 4 inches, and will also be on the bus to Bloomington. Homestead’s Eli Griffin won the event at 15-6 and Bishop Dwenger’s Trevor Martin was third at 14 feet.
The Eagles picked up another three points in the 300 hurdles, where Kam Rinker placed sixth in 40.85.
"He was in lane 9, and he ended up getting sixth. We told our kids, we're all-in on every event, bring a winning mindset no matter where you're at," Dock said. "And he dropped almost a full second off his PR from lane 9. He trains well and he trains hard, and these kids race hard. ... We may not always have the best kids in every event, but our kids train at a high level and race hard. A lot of kids mail it in if they're the ninth seed, but not Kam Rinker."
Wayne’s Clark was the meet’s sprint king, winning the 100 in 10.65 to beat Mississinewa’s Hayden Nelson by 0.04 of a second, and then coming back to claim the 200 title in 22.09. Woodlan’s Sam Handerson claimed the third qualifying spot in the 100 in 10.85, and Norwell’s Trevon Stoppenhagen was second in the 200 in 22.12. Stoppenhage will also advance in the 100, where he finished fourth, because his time of 10.93 met the state qualifying standard.
Shappell, a senior, pulled off the distance double, winning the 1,600 in 4:20.37 and 3,200 in 9:31.29. Shappell lead the 1,600 nearly the entire way, but Oak Hill’s Trenton Sweet made a late push to challenge the Leo runner but was ultimately forced to settle for second in 4:21.16, while Homestead’s Evan McMahon was third in 4:22.45.
The 3,200 was even more exciting: Shappell again led most of the way, but Westview’s Noah Bontrager pulled up right behind him.
Angola’s Sam Yarnelle fought to overtake Shappell but the Leo runner found another gear on the final straightaway to catapult himself back into first. Yarnelle finished second by 0.32 of a second and Bontrager was third.
Angola’s Meyer won the high jump with a clearance of 6 feet, 6 inches, Norwell’s Winston Frauhiger was second at 6-5 and Homestead’s Ethan Widenhoefer was third, also at 6-5.
Meyer also came out ahead in the long jump at 22 feet, 9 1/2 inches. Homestead’s Michael White was second at 22-2.
Eastside’s Dane Sebert ruled the throws, winning the shot put at 59 feet, 1 3/4 feet and the discus at 169-3. North Side's Jordan King was second in the shot put with a distance of 56 feet, 4 inches, and Leviticus Land of Heritage was third with a mark of 51 feet, 11 inches. Adams Central's Trenton Hoffman was second in the discus with a throw of 153 feet, 3 inches, and Bishop Dwenger's Elijah Douge was third at 152 feet, 4 inches.
Northrop’s Javion Westfield won the 110 hurdles in 14.36, but he was forced to settle for second place in the 300 hurdles behind Homestead’s Jacob Martin, who won in 39.09. West Noble's Drew Yates was second in the 110 hurdles in 14.55, and Norwell's Jake Parker was third in 14.79.
Oak Hill won the 4x800 relay in 7:53.78, while DeKalb was second in 8:05.03 and Leo third at 8:06.20.
Snider won the 4x100 relay in 42.89, ahead of runner-up Mississinewa in 42.99 and third-place South Side in 43.02.
Warsaw took third on its home track with 62 points, behind winner Penn with 82.5 points and runner-up Elkhart with 71. Columbia City was 15th and Wawasee 12th.
Warsaw's Randall Jordan was the regional champion in the high jump with a clearance of 6 feet, 9 inches. The Tigers are sending two pole vaulters to the state finals as Morgan Johnson was second with a clearance of 14 feet and Matt Marsh was third after clearing 13 feet. Another Tiger, James Leiter, was third in the shot put with a mark of 50 feet, 4 inches.
Warsaw was the runner-up in the 4x400 in 3:25.94.
Columbia City will advance to the state meet in the 4x800, where the Eagles placed third in 8:03.33.
Wawasee's Lukas Linder placed third in the 200 in 22.33.