BY CHAD DARE
Salt Fork senior Toria Plotner wanted to be more than a good track athlete.
On Friday night, Plotner joined an elite group when she claimed her fourth Vermilion County championship in the 400-meter dash.
“That was my goal when I started track my freshman year,’’ Plotner said. “My dad (Salt Fork football coach Brian Plotner) always talks about there being a difference between being good at something and being special at it.
“He told me that if I won the county title four straight years — it would show that I was a special track athlete.’’
And Plotner’s win the 400 was one of eight event victories for the Salt Fork Storm on Friday night, but it wasn’t enough.
The Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac Comets claimed their second straight Vermilion County championship with 183 points, while Salt Fork was second with 138.
“I don’t think people expected us to win and we didn’t realize it until recently when coach (Lynn) Anderson figured out the scoring,’’ said Oakwood’s Preslie Fletcher, who won the triple jump and ran legs on the Comets winning 3,200 and 1,600 relay teams. “We all pulled through in all of our events. We placed where she wanted us to be or did better in some events.’’
Oakwood/A-P did win all four relay events in addition to Fletcher’s win in the triple jump and Mariah Carnahan’s win the 800.
But the Comets won their third County title in four years thanks in large part to their depth.
“I told my girls about six weeks ago, Salt Fork is the one to beat,’’ Anderson said. “But, if we placed where I figured we could place that we could win it. But this was all on paper. It doesn’t make any difference what I say we should win or do, you have to do it.’’
In addition to the six event victories, Oakwood/A-P also had eight individuals earn second-place finishes and another eight had third-place finishes.
“We need those seconds, thirds, fourths and fifths,’’ Anderson said. “Our girls were really hungry for it, because we improved on a lot of times.
“Our girls met the challenge. That is what I’m more pleased about than anything.’’
And doing it with depth was very satisfying for the Comets.
“It’s not just one or two people that wins a track meet, you need a whole team to work together to be successful,’’ Fletcher said. “It shows how important teamwork is and you all have to pull together to win as a team.’’
The teamwork that Oakwood/A-P used to win the team title offset three great individual performances for Salt Fork.
In addition to winning the 400 (1 minute, 1.10 seconds) on Friday night, Plotner also won the 200 in 26.95 seconds, which met her goal for the night.
“In the 400, my goal was to break a minute and that didn’t happen,’’ she said. “So my next goal was to run 26 seconds in the 200 and I did that.
“I wanted to prove to myself that I could run 26 seconds after running a 400.’’
Plotner admitted that her time in the 400 was probably a little slower than she wanted because of a hamstring injury she has been battling for the past few weeks.
“I sat out all last week and I didn’t practice until Wednesday this week,’’ she said. “I was worried that it was going to be the end to my senior year. But thankfully, it wasn’t a major injury.’’
Plotner’s accomplishment this year of winning the 400 in all four years of high school is a goal now for Salt Fork freshman Jenny Kimbro.
In her first Vermilion County meet, Kimbro went 4-for-4, winning the high jump, the long jump, the 100 hurdles and the 300 hurdles.
“I’m so proud of her,’’ Plotner said.
In addition to the four titles, Kimbro also set new county records in the 100 hurdles (14.95) and the 300 hurdles (46.86) — beating the previous marks by more than a second.
“It was more about getting points for the team,’’ Kimbro said. “I didn’t know how this would compare to junior high county meets.
“I did my best in a couple of events. I got my personal record in 100 hurdles and I tied my best in the high jump (5-1).’’
And while Kimbro wasn’t sure where that put her in Vermilion County track history, Plotner was already talking about her being one of the special athletes.
“She’s going to be a four-peater,’’ Plotner said. “And I think she can do it in all four events.’’
Other individual event winners were Bismarck-Henning’s Mary Bass in the 100, while Madie Brown claimed both the 3,200 and 1,600 events for Hoopeston Area.
Rounding out the team standings, Bismarck-Henning was third, Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman took fourth, Hoopeston Area came in fifth and Westville finished sixth.