UNION CITY, Ind.
Late Thursday night, it became clear it would be a historic night for Tri-Eastern Conference track and field.
With two boys events left and 13-time reigning champion Centerville fourth in the team standings, the streak neared its end.
Every team wanted to have the bragging rights, to say it was the one that ended the streak.
But who would it be?
It remained a toss-up.
It came down to the last event.
When Union County’s 1,600-meter relay team finished a place ahead of Hagerstown, it was decided.
For the first time, Union County is TEC boys track and field champion. Union County edged Hagerstown 119-118.
The championship streak ends for Centerville’s boys.
What wasn’t a toss-up was that Hagerstown’s girls streak would jump to four. The Tigers scored 168 points.
Matt Snyder, Cody Seals, Jacob Nixon and Mitch Snyder finished third in the 1,600 relay to cap off the night for Union County’s boys.
It wasn’t first, but all that mattered was that it was ahead of Hagerstown.
“The 4-by-4, I knew it was going to come down to that last race. I was confident in our guys,” Union County co-coach Joe Davidson said. “I didn’t want to tell anybody. I knew we had a team that could compete and definitely beat Hagerstown. I was confident in them.”
Northeastern finished third in the team standings with 106 points. The Knights won the final event of the night, but the preceding 3,200-meter run had made it a two-team race.
The Knights finished the 1,600 relay in 3:35, Centerville was second in 3:36, Union County third in 3:36.01 and Hagerstown fourth in 3:43.18.
The final boys’ standings were Union County (119), Hagerstown (118), Northeastern (106), Centerville (75), Lincoln (52), Winchester (43), Tri High (39) and Union City (31).
“We didn’t want it to come down to the 4-by-4, because even though we have a real solid team there, we knew it wasn’t a race we were going to be able to win,” Hagerstown boys coach Kent Gray said. ” … We planned to have (Austin) Durham in that, (but) he came up lame in the 200. We couldn’t run him. That hurt us a little bit too, but I can’t complain about what our guys did tonight. They were very competitive. I think we ended up winning five events, maybe, or something like that. You win a third of the events, you’ve had a pretty darn good meet.”
And thanks to a great finish by Hagerstown’s Mason Bledsoe in the 3,200, the Tigers put themselves in the necessary position heading into the final event.
Bledsoe snuck past Union City’s Seth Fowler about halfway through and held a late lead in the event, but Fowler made a late charge that left the final decision up for review.
Fowler’s knee crossed the finish line first. But the rule says torso, according to the official scorekeeper Thursday, and after review of the official video, it was decided Bledsoe’s torso crossed the finish line first.
Bledsoe finished in 10:20.91 to Fowler’s 10:20.93.
The photo finish had the Tigers and Patriots tied with 113 points apiece, leaving it all on the shoulders of the relay quartets.
Seals also won the long jump and Mitch Snyder the 300 hurdles for the Patriots, while Sammie Elleman won discus for the girls.
“For these kids to come out and it being cold and not a lot of things go our way at first and then they kept fighting, kept fighting. It came down to the last race, which was exciting for them, and I’m glad we pulled it off,” Davidson said.
There was no such rally needed on the girls side, with a dominant performance by a senior-laden Tiger team.
The second-place team was Centerville, which finished with 107 points.
Union City (78) was third, Union County (65) fourth, Winchester (55) fifth, Lincoln (52) sixth, Northeastern (28) seventh and Tri High (16) eighth.
Senior Lindy Smith won the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, while helping the Tigers finish first in the 400 and 1,600 relays.
“It’s really amazing,” Smith said of the Tigers winning a fifth TEC title in six years. “I think sometimes our team may take it for granted sometimes, but definitely, as a senior, in retrospect, it’s definitely a really big deal.”
Another senior, Hayley Rogers won the 1,600 and the 800, while helping the 3,200 and 1,600 relays win.
Amelia Dick won the 3,200 and helped the 3,200 relay to victory, while Sydney Denhart (400) and Aimee Hoodlebrink (long jump) won individual events.
On the boys side, Northeastern’s Quest Schwab won the 100 and the 200 and helped the 400 and 1,600 relay teams to victory.
Brennen Parker (shot put), Alec Sheets (high jump) and Jake Austerman (400) also won individual events, with Shane Stiner, Austerman and Tyler Sandlin helping the 400 relay to victory.
“We performed great tonight,” Northeastern coach Mark Kerkhoff said. “I think we with that 4-by-4 victory, that was our seventh conference champion of the night, so our kids really performed well. We had a lot of great times tonight. Our throwers scored huge points on the boys side, so it was an awesome effort.”
Other individual winners were Hagerstown’s Bledsoe (1,600 and 3,200), Dakota Roach (discus) and Matthias Ritter (800) on the boys side.
Union City’s girls had winners in Baylee Hartman (high jump) and Kristen King (shot put). Lincoln’s Evan Underwood won the boys 110 hurdles, and Kassidy West won both the 100 and the 200.