By DAVID GREEN
After Morenci’s success at last year’s state track and field finals—a pair of state champions—this year’s results might seem a little disappointing, said Bulldog coach Brad Brown.
But that’s not at all the way he sees it, and he doesn’t want his state qualifiers to view the results that way, either.
“If it were any other sport, we’d be excited about a second place finish,” he said. There would be disappointment with the loss, of course, but pride in finishing as the state runner-up.
“I’m certainly going to celebrate our two second-place finishes,” Brown said.
Morenci sophomore Austin Sandusky finished second in the 400-meter dash Saturday in Grand Rapids and his classmate Madi Glecker was second in the 100-meter hurdles.
And that’s not all. Gleckler was also fifth in the 300-meter hurdle event and Sandusky took seventh in the 100-meter dash.
This marked the second year in a row for Morenci to come home with all-state athletes, and none of the Bulldogs’ six qualifiers are seniors.
Sandusky lost by one hundredth of a second in the 400-meter dash last week at the county meet, then he lost by two hundredths at state. He came from behind both times to nearly win, running in the state meet with a time of :50.62.
“If it had been a 401-meter race,” Brown said, “he would have had another state title.”
Sandusky’s 100-meter time (:11.77) wasn’t his best, but that’s often the case at the state meet, Brown said. At an invitational meet where the competition is weaker, a good runner doesn’t have to run too hard to make it through the preliminary and semifinal races. That’s not the case at the state meet. It takes three hard runs plus—in this case—a very strong head wind.
Gleckler was close to her best in the 100-meter hurdles, and she improved as the day went on. She placed third in her heat in the semifinals and Brown began to wonder if she would finish near the front in the finals.
As it turned out, only the defending state champion could top Gleckler in the finals.
“Madi had a bad start, but she found her rhythm and pulled away from the field—all except Chantel Davenport,” Brown said.
Davenport is a senior who expected a challenge from Morenci’s Brooke Bovee, but Bovee had to watch from the edge of the track due to a foot injury.
Gleckler tied her best in the 300-meter event despite the wind.
“She’s run that time (:47.43) three times now,” Brown noted. “That’s very promising.”
Junior Tatyana Pless competed in the 1600-meter run and finished near her best at 5:38. She was also part of the 1600-meter relay with Mariah Gillen, Ali Piercy and Gleckler to finish at 4:28.9, near their best.
Piercy, a junior discus thrower, and Alex Thomas, a freshman high jumper, both made their first appearances at the state meet, and both were disappointed with their results.
“Ali had the added pressure of being ranked number two,” Brown said.
She finished one foot off from advancing to the finals, and had she made it, she might have returned to 110-plus throws that she’s had lately.
Thomas cleared 5-9, but fouled out at 5-11—a distance he’s cleared during the season.
“He’s had such a huge improvement in form,” Brown said, noting that it often takes a high jumper a season or two to excel.