Jace Hirst had a confession. The Central senior was getting ready for the 1,600 relay at the Central Relays on Saturday, and he told his teammates on the relay that fatigue was beginning to set in for him. He had already run the anchor leg for the winning sprint medley and 3,200 relays, and the long day was taking its toll. But some encouraging words from teammate Timmric Barrett helped bring Hirst out of his funk.
Then Barrett, Nate Baker and Earren Young set Hirst up in prime position for the anchor leg in the 1,600 relay. He delivered, as the Bearcats won the race with a time of 3:36.12.
“I was not feeling it, you can ask any of them, I was not ready to run it,” Hirst said. “Seeing them have us in first, it gave me a crap ton of confidence, and it made me feel like I wasn’t going to screw it up for the team.”
Hirst is a senior who was part of a state-qualifying 3,200 relay team for the Bearcats last season. All three of his teammates in that relay from last season have graduated, and the Bearcats’ lineup has a significantly different look in a variety of events this season. Central even has a new coach, with former assistant coach Jason Wray taking over the head coach position shortly before the season.
The new-look Bearcats finished third in Saturday’s meet in Class A with 78 team points. Kokomo won the class with 98 team points and Huntington North was second with 83 points. Jay County had 64 points and finished fourth. New Castle was fifth with 44 points. Delta had 19 points and finished seventh. Southside finished eighth with 12 points.
“When I saw who we had coming out, I knew there was going to be a lot of potential,” Wray said. “But you have to come to practice every day and put the work in to kind of blossom that potential. Today, I think, is just a little bit of what it is to come down the road.”
The Bearcats achieved their third-place mark without winning any individual events Saturday. Barrett took second in the 100, while Tim Barrett finished second in the long jump. Central also took second in the distance medley relay. The Bearcats generated a total of 44 points in the meet’s five relays.
New Castle’s Tanner Dye turned in two individual event wins, claiming the 1,600 and 3,200 titles in Class A. Delta’s Mason Bechdolt and Jay County’s Zane Shreve and Tyler Back were also individual winners in Class A. Bechdolt won the 100, Shreve won the 300 hurdles and Back won the shot put.
Yorktown was second in Class B, finishing with 781/2 points. Hamilton Heights won the class with 104. Wapahani was fourth in Class B with 581/2 points. Shenandoah took fifth with 46 points and Winchester finished sixth with 39 points.
The Tigers’ Michael Silvidi claimed his team’s lone individual win, taking the 300 hurdles. Silvidi was also on the Tigers’ winning 1,600 relay and distance medley relay teams.
Yorktown won a total of three relays, also taking the 3,200 relay. Daniel Smith, Michael Kerrigan and Blake Collins were also on two winning relays.
Shenandoah won three events, with Chandler Hale in the long jump and T.J. Nethery in the shot put. Hale, Nethery, Stephen Marshall and Zack Farmer won the 400 relay.