Garrett Gray came to the realization that Thursday night was his final athletic competition at Mallory Field, and he decided to put on one final show for the Benton Central fans.
The Bison senior took advantage of perfect weather conditions, setting sectional records in the 200 (22.67 seconds) and 400 meters (49.92) to lead Benton Central’s repeat as sectional champion. The 200-meter record had stood since 1992.
“I was a little nervous earlier this week, because they said it was supposed to thunderstorm, but we ended up having a great night, nice and warm and not a whole lot of wind tonight,” Gray said. “That made it possible to get the times I ran. I had the 400 sectional record in my mind, but I didn’t think I would be able to run the 200 after running the 400 right before that.”
The Bison won eight events in all, including the final race of the night when Gray anchored a 1,600 relay team that also included senior Jacob Ricks, who was vomiting prior to the race but was determined to end the night on a high note.
“It meant everything to me, because it’s the last time I get to run,” said Ricks, who also won the discus with a throw of 146 feet, 5 inches. “The last chance you get to do it, you have to, no matter what. You could be bleeding and dying, and you just finish the lap.”
Tri-County won seven sectional titles in a row from 2005 to 2011 before BC ended its streak last season.
Trying to reclaim their place atop the pedestal, the Cavaliers got victories from Trystyn Taylor in the 110 hurdles (15.75) and Jake Dowell in the shot put (50-7¾) but couldn’t keep pace with BC, which scored 159 points to Tri-County’s 104. Twin Lakes finished third with 99 and North Newton was fourth with 91.
The tone was set early when senior Ethan Fisher, a first-year participant, exceeded his seed in the pole vault by a full foot and cleared 11 feet to win.
“This is his first year doing track, and I can’t imagine what he would be like if he was a freshman doing it,” said senior Rhys Johnson, who won the 800 and was a member of two victorious relay teams. “To jump 11, that’s definitely a personal record for him, and that basically set the tone completely.”
Benton Central’s Akis Medrano outdistanced the field to win the 1,600 in 4:37.88 and finished second to Twin Lakes sophomore Kody Snyder in the 3,200. Snyder teamed with Cody DeBoy, Justin Demiduk and Edgar Estrada to win the 3,200 relay.
Medrano’s victory in the mile gave BC the lead in the team standings for the first time, and the Bison never trailed again.
Attica’s Kenny Little (high jump, 6-2), South Newton’s Nathan Bishop (300 hurdles, 41.49), North Newton’s Vince Duminie (100, 11.39) and North Vermillion’s Wade Harrison (long jump, sectional record 22-5) also were winners Thursday night.
But the night belonged to the Bison, who were determined to back up last year’s championship performance with another title, their 11th overall in boys track.
“We definitely want to go out being champions, and not a whole lot can beat this feeling,” Gray said.