CATLIN — High school track athletes are permitted to compete in four events — whether they are individual or relays — at any one meet.
Winning all four events is a special accomplishment and it earns the team 40 points.
On Monday night at the Vermilion Valley Conference Meet, Salt Fork junior Nathan Kirby, Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin senior Eli Mojonnier and Westville senior Savannah Tyler finished with ‘perfect’ nights.
For Kirby, it was all about the individual events, as he won the 100- and 200-meter races as well as the 110 and 300 hurdle events. And one of those meant a little bit more.
“Definitely the 300 hurdles,’’ Kirby said. “At the county meet on Friday, I messed up, didn’t get the time I wanted and some other kid (Westville’s Tyler Miller) beat me. I had to come out and make a statement, show him that he wasn’t going to beat me again.’’
While winning those events helped his team finish second in the team standings, Kirby said he remains focused on the end goal.
“As much as I want my team to win county and conference, it’s more about placing and doing as well as I can at state,’’ he said.
For Mojonnier, his 4-for-4 on Monday was a repeat of what he did at the Vermilion County Meet on Friday night in Hoopeston.
The Blue Devils senior cruised to victories in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 events as well as anchoring his team’s winning 1,600 relay team to finish off the night.
“I thought it was going to be more challenging tonight with the (Bryson) Grant kid from Iroquois West in the 800 and 1,600,’’ said Mojonnier, who beat Grant by more than 3 seconds in the 800, while Grant was scratched from the 1,600 race. “It’s a really good feeling winning all of your events, and helping your team claim the title.’’
Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin won its first conference title since tying with Salt Fork in 2017. The Blue Devils finished with 148 points, while the Storm had 127.
“Both teams are really good and it’s fun to compete against them for these titles,’’ Mojonnier added.
A big reason for Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin’s success on both Monday night at the conference meet and Friday night at the county meet was sweeping all four relay events.
Winning the 400 and 800 relays was a big accomplishment for Blue Devils as the Storm is rated in the top-five of the state in both events. Salt Fork was missing junior Ethan McLain, who has missed the last two meets because of appendicitis.
“It’s an amazing feeling to take down a team like Salt Fork that has been dominant for years,’’ said Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin senior Murphy McCool, who was a part of the 400 and 800 teams.
So, why are the Blue Devils so good at the relay races?
“It’s because of our depth,’’ McCool added. “Everyone is doing their jobs and it’s a great team atmosphere.’’
There were three event records set in the boys meet on Monday night. Kirby’s time of 14.94 seconds in the 110 hurdles broke the previous record of 14.96 by Devon Darnell of Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman. Salt Fork junior Garrett Taylor, who won both the shot put and discus events, had a toss of 50.37 meters (166 feet, 3 inches) in the discus to break the previous mark of 158 feet, 7 inched by Salt Fork’s Alec Dutton. While Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman senior Jace Bina won the long jump with leap of 6.62 meters (21 feet, 8.5 inches) to break the previous record of 21 feet, 8 inches by Bismarck-Henning’s Dalton Edwards.
For Tyler, the four victories on Monday night are the result of changing events this season and a little upgrade at Westville High School.
A year ago, Tyler won the VVC title in 400 meters with a time of 1 minute, 4.63 seconds. But first-year coach Mariah Rolinitis decided to make a change this year, moving Tyler into a role as a sprinter. The senior responded by winning the 100 and 200 races as well as running the leadoff leg on the winning 400 and 800 relay teams for the Tigers.
“I used to run middle-distance races like the 400, but Ms. Rolinitis taught me that I’m a sprinter,’’ said Tyler, who would have been 4-for-4 at Friday’s Vermilion County Meet but after finishing first in the 100, she was disqualified by the rules committee for an apparent false start. “It means a lot to me to win all four races tonight. It shows that my hard work on our new track has paid off.’’
As Tyler mentioned, this is the first year that athletes at Westville have had an all-weather track for practice.
“It’s a ‘huge’ difference,’’ Tyler said. “We used to run in the parking lot for our practices. Having a new track is a big jump for us.’’
For the third straight time, the Salt Fork girls claimed the Vermilion Valley Conference title with 123 points, as Watseka (69) and Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin (65) finished second and third respectively.
“It’s a cool feeling to say that we never lost the conference meet,’’ said Salt Fork senior Olivia Birge, who along by Brynlee Keeran were a part of all three teams.
Keeran accounted for 34 points as she had three second-place finishes to go along with her victory in the long jump.
“It was a pretty decent day,’’ she said. “The main thing is getting points for the team.’’
Junior Shelby McGee definitely did her part for the Storm, winning the 100 and 300 hurdles titles as well as the triple jump event. While Birge won both the shot put and discus events for Salt Fork.
Those individual event victories are a big part of the success for Salt Fork, which has only eight girls on its team.
“Teams like Bismarck, Watseka, and even Westville, have so many girls that they get a lot of points with their depth,’’ Birge said. “We get a lot of first-place finishes, but after that, we don’t have the numbers to get points for fourth, fifth and sixth-places.
“When it comes down to it, we rely on getting at least 20 points from the throwing events and bunch of points from Brynlee and Shelby in the jump. We can’t mess up or have an off-day.’’
Birge and Keeran are the only seniors, and Keeran hopes their success can help the program grow.
“We have some newcomers this season that are just starting out,’’ she said. “Hopefully, being a part of this championship will inspire them to next year.’’
Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin sophomore Ella McFarland had the only record-setting performance on the girls side. Her winning jump of 1.60 meters (5 feet, 3 inches) in the high jump tied the previous mark set by Salt Fork’s Mallory Meade in 2007 and Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac’s Stephanie Denius in 2008.