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Written By StaceyPageOnline / Sports on Friday, May 19, 2017

Whitko’s Garrett Elder hands off to Zack Freel during the 1600-meter relay at the Bremen Boys Track and Field Sectional Thursday. (Photo by James Costello)

BREMEN — Six sectional titles and 10 regional berths are nothing to sneeze at, but Whitko coach Ron Cherry wasn’t overly thrilled with consolation prizes following Thursday’s Bremen Boys Track Sectional.

Not with the Wildcats hoping to take home a three-peat team championship.

Plymouth upended two-time champion Whitko for the first time since the Wildcats joined the field in 2015 in a fight to the finish, 114-107.5. Tippecanoe Valley finished eighth with a score of 48.5, a single point behind Manchester, while Triton put up eight points to finish 10th.

While he may have been disappointed in the final standings, Cherry couldn’t fault his athletes’ effort.

“I have to be honest, I’m disappointed we lost, or ended up second I should say,” said the Whitko skipper. “We made this one of our goals this year to three-peat our sectional, and it just didn’t happen. But the guys really performed well tonight. We had a couple glitches here and there, and in a meet this close that stuff kind of adds up but anyway they had a great effort.”

That effort earned the Wildcats the top spot in six of 16 events at Bremen. While the Pilgrims out-pointed the defending champs, no team won more events Thursday.

Garrett Elder took top honors in the 100-meter dash (11.24), the long jump (19-10.75) and as a member of Whitko’s 4×100 squad alongside Shad Ebbinghouse, Chase Meade and Alex Wilson (44.57). Wilson placed second behind Elder in the 100 meters (11.35), and he reigned supreme in the 200 meters (22.9) as the Wildcats’ sprint corps dominated at Bremen.

“In maybe distance and throwing events, you get a second chance if something doesn’t go right. In sprints you’ve got to be there right away,” explained Cherry.

“Alex Wilson false-started in a meet in mid-March. Garrett Elder false started in a meet in March. They never false-started in a meet before, but I told them each time, better to do it now in March than in May when it’s more important. They’re just some neat kids.”

The Wildcats also shined in the throwing events as Gavin Howard outdistanced the field in both the shot put (47-06) and the discus (142-08), while Conner Sherwin placed second in the disc (137-03) in Whitko’s second one-two finish of the night.

“The throwers have been a real strength of our team the last couple years, especially this year,” Cherry said. “We go into a lot of meets — not all of them but a lot of them — expecting to win or go one-two. It hasn’t happened all the time, but it’s just something that we’ve been able to count on.”

Like teammates Elder and Wilson, Ebbinghouse made a trio of regional cuts for Whitko in the 4×1 as well as both hurdles races (16.02 for third in the 110 hurdles and 42.22 for second in the 300 hurdles).

“These guys will go on and get to compete in a meet environment down there and get to represent themselves and their school. They’ll get over this. They’re younger. They’ll get over this easier than I will,” said Cherry. “They’ve been a great group of kids to work with, and I’m real proud of them.”

Tippy Valley earned its lone title in the 400 meters, where Dakota Parker clocked 51.18, possibly setting a new program record in the process.

“We know it’s 51.1-something, and he got 51.18 tonight so he’s close,” said head coach Jenny Moriarty. “Winning that, that was huge. We knew he should, but still you never know what happens at the race.”

Tippy Valley’s Dakota Parker guts out the home stretch of the 400 meters. (Photo by James Costello)

While Parker PR’d in the 400, fellow Viking Keith Wright cleared 6 feet in the high jump for a new personal best and also earned the right to advance to next week’s Kokomo Regional.

“We knew he was close, but he had never cleared six foot. We were hoping, but it was an exciting night for him,” Moriarty said.

Triton never cracked the top three, although Nathan Riggins was close in the pole vault, clearing 10-6 for fourth place. Seniors Malachi Greene and Marcus Brown both made the finals of the 200 meters, where they finished seventh (24.76) and eighth (25.6), respectively.

“We’ve got some eighth graders coming up next year. We’ve got some athletes that I think are going to benefit us so we’re really looking for the future,” said Triton coach Curt Kreft. “We had a really small team this year. We had about 17 guys, five of them seniors who were first year. So it was a long year, but it was fun and we did see some improvements.”

Triton’s Josiah Page races in the 300-meter hurdles. (Photo by James Costello)

Whitko’s Alex Wilson holds off the field in the home stretch of a tight 200-meter race. (Photo by James Costello)

Keith Wright approaches the bar during the high jump competition. (Photo by James Costello)

Shad Ebbinghouse races Rochester’s Corbyn Wood during the 110 hurdles trials. (Photo by James Costello)

Posted In: Boy's Sports > Track and Field