BLOOMINGTON — Proving tradition never graduates, the Bloomington High School boys track team won its eighth consecutive title in the Big 12 Conference Indoor Meet at Shirk Center on Tuesday.
The Purple Raiders scored in all 15 events and went 1-2 in three on their way to 157 points, a whopping 91 ahead of runner-up Champaign Centennial. Normal Community was third (64) and Normal West fifth (44) in the nine-team meet.
“We graduated some really good seniors,” said BHS coach John Szabo. “These guys have been above our expectations and have done a great job all year. It’s going to be an exciting outdoor season.”
Butler-bound distance recruit Nick Doud of BHS won the 3,200-meter run in a season best of 9 minutes, 38.68 seconds and was later involved in the most thrilling race of the night, the 1,600. He won the 3,200 by nearly 56 seconds. The notion he should save something for the 1,600 crept into Doud’s mind late in the 3,200.
“Do I really want to push it because I knew I wasn’t going to run anything special?” he said. “So I was kind of thinking I should ease up a little a bit and save some energy.”
Doud could have used that energy in the 1,600, which Normal West’s Charlie Wetzel won by one hundredth of a second in 4:29.95.
“He’s beaten me every time this season,” Wetzel said. “I’ve lost contention with him too early. Finally, today I was able to get him back.”
The first win for BHS came in the long jump where senior Drew Crooks matched his 2018 outdoor best of 22 feet, 2 inches. Teammate Mauliek Johnson was a foot behind in second.
“In the off-season, I was lifting a lot, running a lot, trying to get in shape,” said Crooks, who will play football for McKendree next year. “I’ve still got some things to prove just to myself.”
Crooks proved he’s fast in the 60 as he and teammate DaQwan Davis went 1-2 with times of 7.14 and 7.15. Crooks looked strong in the 400 where his 51.86 trailed only the 50.42 by Danville’s Quemarii Williams, who also won their 200 dual, 22.61 to 23.60.
Also going 1-2 were BHS 60 hurdlers C.J. Hyde (8.41) and Jante Hatfield (8.68). Hyde came in with a best of 8.53 and lowered it to 8.44 in the prelims.
“I’ve tried to push myself this year more,” he said. “Every (personal) record I set, I try to beat it, but I always try to push Jante to do his best, too. He’s always right there with me at practice.”
Sophomore Liam McGill, whose sister Bailey was a BHS sprint star, won the pole vault at 14-6. He didn’t bother trying to tie his season best of 14-9, but then missed three times at 15-0.
“My first and second attempts, I was over it, but I just came down on it,” he said.
The triple jump provided one of the meet’s biggest upsets as Dishon Hall of NCHS, the No. 4 seed at 39-11 won at 44-5½. In his first season last year, he went 44-1.
“Track is new to me so I think I can do a lot more,” said the erstwhile basketball player.
Jacob Myers of NCHS won his first major 800, clocking 2:03.41 to just miss his season best of 2:02.64. Once he got the lead, he never surrendered it.
“Once you are up front,” he said, “it’s just all about heart.”
No. 2-seeded shot putter Ethan Johnson of NCHS, who came in with a best of 44-10, stepped up to win at 44-6¾ on his second to last throw.
“I think I just got good power on the kick slide and got underneath it,” he analyzed.
Normal West proved the “slow” heat of the 800 relay was anything but as Bryce Hess, Andre Leigh, Aidan Gufrinck and Davonte Crawford won in 1:36.17.
Placing second for BHS were its 1,600 relay (3:37.35), 3,200 relay (8:47.91) and Evan Turnbull in the 800 (2:04.95). Other area runners-up included West’s Garret Rhode in the shot put (42-8¾) and the NCHS duo of Aiden Oliver in the high jump (6-0) and Reed Wilson in the pole vault (14-0).