BY CHAD DARE
Salt Fork put together an 800-meter relay team for the first time at the Vermilion County track meet 10 days ago.
A dropped baton during the race disqualified the foursome, but on Monday night at the Vermilion Valley Conference meet that group showed what they were capable of doing.
Senior Clayton Fauver, followed by juniors Seth McLain, Luke Maddox and Nick Hedges won the conference title with a time of 1 minute, 37.10 seconds.
“We were a little disappointed that we dropped the baton, we thought we had a chance to win it in the County meet,’’ Salt Fork coach Brett Bowman said. “It was especially nice to get Clayton Fauver an all-conference patch as a senior in his first season out for track.’’
The victory also sparked the Storm to their second VVC title in four years. Salt Fork was 33 points better than Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman (118-85), the Vermilion County champions.
“After County, we were all disappointed with second,’’ said Salt Fork senior Alec Dutton, who was first in the discus and second in the shot put. “We came in more focused and it showed.’’
A big factor in the Storm’s success on Monday was Hedges in the sprint events.
In addition to anchoring the winning 800 relay team, the junior was also the anchor runner on the first-place 400 relay team for the Storm and he also claimed the 100 and 200 events.
“We put that 4-by-2 relay team together with the idea that it was going to win County and conference,’’ Hedges said. “Our first runner (Fauver) had never run a 200, so we didn’t know what to expect. The rest of us are part of the 4-by-1, so we’ve had plenty of practice with the handoffs.’’
And while Hedges was pleased with four first-place finishes, he knows there is still work for him to do in the two sprint races.
“I have to work on coming out of the blocks — that is hurting my times right now,’’ he said as his winning time in the 100 was 11.48 seconds and in the 200 it was 24.03 seconds. “But for the most part, those races are good for me.’’
And he wasn’t the only Salt Fork competitor disappointed with his results on Monday.
Dutton’s winning throw in the discus (156 feet, 1 inch) was more than 11 feet shorter than his winning toss in the County meet.
“I was a little disappointed in my throwing, but we got the win,’’ he said. “I can’t complain too much, because I was able to win and that’s what matters the most.’’
Also picking up a pair of first-place finishes for the Storm was Taylor Kirby in the 110 and 300 hurdles.
The Buffaloes, who were without a couple of key runners because of missed practice time, got first-place finishes from Keenan Butler in the long jump and the 1,600 relay team.
Schlarman Academy senior Jesse Hahne etched his name in the VVC record books for the second straight year.
Hahne’s winning time of 9 minutes, 38.14 seconds broke the old mark of Schlarman’s Scott Krapf in the 3,200.
“Being able to take down one of his records is a real honor,’’ said Hahne, who has already signed to run next year at Illinois State University. “It was going through my mind that whole race to get that record. It ended up paying off.’’
Hahne was never challenged, winning the event by 1 minute, 19.15 seconds.
“It’s always tough to run solo, but I think you can learn a lot from it,’’ he said. “It really builds a runner, because you never know what kind of situation that you will be in as a runner.’’
In his other victory on Monday night, Hahne’s time of 4:32 was 1.1 seconds off his record-setting time during last year’s conference meet.
The Hilltoppers, who finished seventh in the team standings, also got an event victory from Andrew Kelley in the triple jump.
All seven teams had at least one individual claim an event victory on Monday.
Bismarck-Henning, which finished third, got a first-place finish from Ty Hufford in the high jump.
Jon Davis won the 800 for the Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac Comets and he anchored the team’s winning 3,200 relay team. The Comets were fourth in the team standings.
Hoopeston Area, which finished fifth, got a event victory from Chris Umbanhower in the 400; while Westville, which finished sixth, got a first-place finish from Nick Woods in the shot put.
It’s the third straight year that Woods has won the event in the VVC meet.