COLUMBUS — The long jump and pole vault runways at Columbus North run parallel to one another, separated by only a small area of grass.
Within a matter of minutes Friday night, it was the place to be.
Shortly after Edinburgh freshman Jackson Hartwell captured the long jump at the Columbus North Sectional with a career best of 21 feet, 5½ inches, Center Grove senior Conner Burries just missed on his third and final attempt in the pole vault with the bar set at 16-4¾.
Burries had already established a new school record by clearing 15-10.
Considering the difficulties of the last two seasons, Burries was more than happy to be moving on to regional for the first time in his career. He missed a portion of last season due to injury; his sophomore track season was scrapped due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In warmup, I took a jump, and was, like, two feet out,” said Burries, alluding to his injury at a meet at Southport in 2021. “I dislocated my right ankle because I landed on the standard.
“This feels great. After having my sophomore season cancelled due to COVID, and having to battle a season-ending injury last year. I’ve been working real hard since my freshman year. I wanted this really bad. Moving on to regional is definitely a big thing, but the thing I really wanted today was that school record.”
Hartwell proved impressive in his own right, qualifying for regional after only picking up the sport last year.
“I for sure wasn’t expecting (to win). I was expecting to do pretty decent, but just not this good,” Hartwell said. “It’s going to take a minute to sink in, for sure. As an eighth-grader, my best jump was 17-11 or something like that. It’s just been about working out and doing stuff to get my vertical up.”
Sixth-ranked Center Grove won the team championship in decisive fashion with 191 points to No. 1 Columbus North’s 136. Whiteland took third with 81 points, while Greenwood was fourth with 54.
“We thought it would be a real close meet. We performed maybe a little better than I even thought, but we had 30 days where we didn’t have a meet,” Trojans coach Eric Moore said. “I’ve never done this before where we had this much time.
“I’m just really proud of how everyone performed. Just a total team effort, and that’s what I love about these guys. They’re all doing everything together. It’s a fun group to be with.”
Trojans senior Brandon Wheat won the 100- and 200-meter dashes and anchored the victorious 4×100 and 4×400 relays — guaranteeing he’ll remain plenty busy at next week’s Greenfield-Central Regional.
Senior James Schott, too, had to face a strong southerly wind while winning his specialty, the 110 high hurdles, in a time of 15.54 seconds, barely defeating teammate Parker Doyle (15.64), who returned to win the 300 hurdles in 40.38 seconds.
Wheat’s 100 time was 11.10 seconds, while his 200 was accomplished in 21.78 seconds. Joining him in the 4×100 were Eli Hohlt, Brady Dicken and Drew Wheat. Hohlt and junior Zach Greller were part of the first-place 4×400 team that clocked a time of 3:23.26.
Greller, a medalist at the state meet as a sophomore in the 400-meter dash, won sectional in 51.09 seconds.