The Portage track and field meet opened with Chesterton’s Jackson Tuck holding off Valpo rival Jimmy Dillabaugh to win the 4×800 relay and ended with Trojan Owen Edlen responding to a clutch shot from a LaPorte thrower with one of his own to win the shot put.
Enough happened for the Trojans in between those two moments that Chesterton won its first boys track and field sectional since 2010.
“The guys had a great night,” head coach Bryan Nallenweg said. “We knew it was going to be a close meet and we basically exceeded our expectations or at least did what we were seeded to do in just about every event.”
As track coaches tend to do, Nallenweg scored out the meet ahead of time, based on season bests from all the athletes. His math worked out to Chesterton and LaPorte finishing in a tie for first with Portage four points behind.
As it turned out, Chesterton won with 147 points, followed by LaPorte (127), Portage (98) and Valparaiso (93.5).
Aside from Edlen (53-3.5 in the shot put), Kieran Barnewall (41.12) was the only one to win an individual event for the Trojans, who placed second in seven individual events.
And nobody did quite as much for the team as Jackson Tuck, who anchored the victorious 4×800 relay (7:59.03), took second in the open 800 (1:58.20) and the 1600 and ran the first leg of the third-place 4×400 relay team.
“We scored in almost every event tonight,” Nallenweg said. “We knew if we could do that and a couple of other guys could step up in some places we were going to put ourselves in a good position and we did. We had a ton of great performances all around.”
The behemoths had a particularly good meet with Isaiah Fowler taking second in the discus (149-7) and Nolan Murphy Jr. third (146-5) to complement Edlen’s shot put win.
“Our throwers really showed up tonight. Jackson ran four events tonight, for the team basically. He did it to try to score as many points as he could for the team,” Nallenweg said. “And we just had a lot of guys who did what they needed to do to help the team win a sectional. It’s always great in track to have these team accomplishments because track can feel like so much of an individual sport with a lot of different islands, so it’s cool when all these different parts come together and result in a team title. I couldn’t be more proud of the boys. They earned it tonight.”
Jackson Tuck, joined on the 4×800 by twin, Joshua, Evan O’Connor and Bob Berger, explained his thinking in running in four events.
“Originally, going into it, I was going to drop the 16 and just do 4×8, 8 and 4×4, but then I realized we have a chance of winning sectionals as a team, I have to do this for the team, think about them,” Jackson said. “And I PR-ed in the 8, so I’m happy about that.”
Tuck qualified for Thursday’s regional at Valparaiso in all four events, but scratched from the 1600 meters, a move that he said expects will allow him to run faster in the open 800.
He said he was surprised he ran as well as he did at the sectional with such a heavy load.
“It was weird because going into every event I was like, ‘I don’t know about this, I’m not feeling it.’ Then the gun would go off and a flip would switch or something and I’d go back to tunnel vision, focus on the race,” he said. “I was happy with that. Helping the team out is a good feeling.”
In addition to Tuck’s two second-place finishes and the one from Barnewall, Aaron Resto missed out on winning the 400 meters at the very end, finishing a tenth of a second behind LaPorte’s Willie Clay, who won in 51.02.
O’Connor earned second-place points in the 3200 meters and Joe Sandrick, a sophomore who had never cleared higher than 10-6 in the pole vault before the two most recent meets, cleared 12-6 for second place.
Several athletes who did not qualify in individual events for the regional meet scored points toward the team’s sectional championship.
Fourth place: Louis Raffin (400), Tyler Ilgin (110 hurdles), Braden Vanderwoude (300 hurdles).
Fifth place: John Fleming (200), Conrad Dyrkacz (high jump), Alex Drewes (pole vault), Jude Palm (long jump), Sam St. Marie (shot put).
Sixth place: Nathan Vaughn (200), Joshua Tuck (800).
Seventh place: Berger (1600).
The 4×100 (Josue McLemore, Tyler Woods, Fleming, Preston Throw) and 4×400 (Jackson Tuck, Raffin, Joshua Tuck, Resto) relays both finished third and will compete Thursday at Valpo.
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