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Written By StaceyPageOnline / Sports on Friday, May 26, 2017

Warsaw’s Laijah Wade hands off to Tristan Larsh, while NorthWood’s Garrett Griffin prepares to pass the baton to Brayton Yoder in the 400-meter relay at the Kokomo Regional Thursday. (Photos by James Costello)

KOKOMO — Coming off of their seventh straight sectional championship and hoping for a repeat regional title, it’s not that the Tigers were happy to settle for second best at the Kokomo Regional Thursday.

But, hey, if you’ve got to lose to someone, Warsaw coach Matt Thacker could think of worse programs to lose to than Penn. Besides, it’s not as though his athletes didn’t perform up to expectations in the Tigers’ 13 berths at the Kokomo meet.

Warsaw finished just five points shy of Penn’s winning score of 65, while NorthWood finished sixth with a score of 33, Whitko was 12th with 18 points, Wawasee finished 20th with 11 points, and Tippecanoe Valley finished a point behind the Warriors in 22nd place.

“It scored out like it was seeded, but not everything goes as it was seeded,” said Thacker. “If we’re going to lose to somebody, Penn is a classy program. They do things right. They work hard, so we tip our hats to those guys.

“It’s not like we did anything bad. We just came up short.”

Warsaw may have fallen short of a team title defense, but the Tigers could at least console themselves with a 4×100 championship and a total of five appointments at this weekend’s IHSAA State Finals in Bloomington.

Tristan Larsh, Rane Kilburn, Will McGarvey and Alijah Wade combined to take home top honors in the 400-meter relay with a 42.93-second stop ahead of Elkhart Central’s 43.32-second mark. That time was a bit short of their school record-tying 42.63 at last week’s sectional tourney, but the conditions at Kokomo weren’t ideal, and the quartet will have another chance to chase the record Friday.

“Winning the four by one is kind of a big picture thing just seeing where your speed is at because we’re so focused on multi-sport athletes, and the four by one is a very good indicator of that,” explained Thacker. “That was big for us, big for our kids, big for our program. Didn’t break the record, but still to run under 43 on a night like this with the wind the way it was, still a good race for us. Real excited about that.”

Larsh had a stellar day for Warsaw, winning the Tigers their lone title as part of the 4×1 and finishing runner-up in both the 100 and 200 meters with respective times of 10.99 seconds and 22.66 — both times, unfortunately, a fraction of a second behind Penn’s Andrew Doty.

Thacker scratched Larsh in the 100 to save him back for the 200 and the 400 relay at state after regional wrapped. The junior sprinter will also join his team’s 1600 relay at state after Kilburn, D’Andre Street, Riley Lemon and Wade clocked 3:25.99 for second place behind Northridge Thursday.

“Tristan, I think we’re starting to figure out how fast he really is. He’s an exceptional athlete,” Thacker said of Larsh. “Things really started to click here in the last year, two years with him, and it’s really exciting to see for him because I think the sky is the limit. He’s one of our hardest workers, if not our hardest workers, one of our best athletes, if not our best athlete and just an all-around good kid, positive role model for our younger kids to be around. Couldn’t be happier for him. Just exciting to watch him get better.”

Also for Warsaw Thursday, Zebedia Hernandez placed third in the 1600 with a 4:33.11 time to make the cut out to state.

While the Tigers won their lone title in the 4×1, NorthWood won a championship in the 110 hurdles.

Jacob Stump was seeded fourth at regional after narrowly grabbing the final berth out to Kokomo in the high hurdles at the Goshen Sectional. The senior got a boost of confidence when he won his prelim early Thursday, then out-leaned Mishawaka’s Seth Mackowicz by .1 of a second in the finals.

“After sectionals I didn’t have too good of a race, but I was confident coming in. I felt like I could run a sub-15, and especially after the prelims I felt really good and, coming into the finals, a lot of adrenaline,” said Stump. “I was really excited for it. I just really felt like I could run a good race; I felt like I could win. It was really nice to see that come through and have the satisfaction of knowing I succeeded in what I was looking forward to the whole season.”

“He is a very dominant kid when he locks in,” said NorthWood coach Mark BeMiller of Stump. “When he has total focus, and he wants it, he goes after it like nobody else. I saw it at the Northern Lakes Conference meet, where he dominated in the 110s and the 300s. He came today and just did the same thing here. With this field and this magnitude of meet, it was very, very impressive.”

Jacob Stump crosses the finish line in the 110-meter hurdles at Kokomo.

Stump’s was the Panthers’ only title, but it wasn’t their only top three berth out to the state finals.

Bronson Yoder just missed out on a title in the long jump, clearing 21-07 but falling an inch an a quarter short of Peru’s Jonah Lester, who sailed 210-8.25 in his final attempt.

Landon Parker, Terrell Pratcher, Garrett Griffin and Brayton Yoder finished behind Warsaw in the 400 relay in third place with a time of 43.32.

“They understand the idea is to move the stick as fast as they can,” explained BeMiller. “So we adjust when we get the baton, when we hand off the baton within the zone to play with our strengths. They work at it. They coach each other up. They watch each other so whenever we work on exchanges I’ll have — instead of just my eyes — two or three other sets of eyes watching. And the other thing is they take a lot of pride in it.”

Also at Kokomo, Wawasee’s Luke Griner won the 800 meters with a winning time of 1:57.51.

Whitko’s Alex Wilson placed third in the 200 in 22.87 to advance to state, while teammate Gavin Howard finished third in the shot put with a toss of 51-04.25.

Tippecanoe Valley’s Dakota Parker placed third in the 400 in 51.79 seconds.

Wawasee’s Luke Griner celebrates after winning the 800-meter title.

Posted In: Boy's Sports > Track and Field