For the Brazil Times
BLOOMINGTON -- Joel Whittington got better with every race during the high school track and field season, including in the 107th Indiana High School Athletic Association Track and Field State Championship Meet on Saturday.
Northview's Whittington ran a career-best time to finish ninth in the 300-meter low hurdles at Indiana University in Bloomington. The first nine individuals score points and earn a medal.
"I went from 20th seed to a ninth seed, and got a medal as a junior, I get to come back again next year and do it all over again. I'm excited," Whittington said.
Whittington won the first of three heats in the 300-meter low hurdles in 39.22 seconds. The 300-hurdles is a timed final, so after winning his heat, Whittington had to wait for the results of heats two and three.
"I can't even think right now. I really can't," Whittington said.
"My highest expectation for this race was to win the slow heat, and that was it. And I won the slow heat, got a (personal best) by over half a second and got a medal. Perfect day."
Whittington qualified for the state meet in 39.82 seconds at the regional meet in Evansville. That was faster than he ran in the Terre Haute Sectional.
On Saturday, Whittington was either first or second the entire race.
"I saw a guy in lane four coming up on me on the turn, thought 'Oh, crap' and started running harder," Whittington said.
Indiana-state recruit Max Tuttle of Bloomington North won the state championship in 37.74 seconds and another future Sycamore, Ray Skamay of Lowell , finished second in 38.12 seconds.
Northview's Connor Strain did not have a good day in the 1600-meter run. He finished 24th in the field of 27 runner with a time of 4 minutes, 31.94 seconds.
"I just felt terrible during the race. I've ran faster than I did before, but it wasn't a good race for me," Strain said.
Carmel 's Chris Walden won the race in 4:10.70, followed by Franklin Central's Jason Crist in 4:11.65, as both passed Shakamak's Drew Gambill (4:12.48) at the finish line.
Northview's Strain qualified for the state meet in 4:30.61, so he wasn't far off pace. Strain said the heat and pace had nothing to day with his performance.
"The temperature wasn't that bad. I liked it. I wanted it to go out that fast. I kind of died off there at the end and I couldn't recover it," Strain said.
"I really didn't have a (race) strategy. I was just going to try to stay up close with the leaders, like the first half of the back."
Strain achieved one of his senior-season goals by qualifying for the state championship meet. And knowing he finished his high school career in the state meet is a consolation.
"It feels pretty good to know when I look back on it, my last race is at the biggest possible race I could have went to all year. I would have liked to run better, but not every race can be a good race. You have to have some bad races some times, mine was today," Strain said.
For the third year in a row, Ben Davis won the state team championship. The Giants held off Lawrence Central 47-44.
Owen Wagoner of Fort Wayne Carroll High School was awarded the Robert S. Hinshaw Mental Attitude Award. Wagoner finished fifth in the pole vault and 20th in the 100-meter dash.
The individual star of the meet was triple-event winner Jarvis McMillian of Hobart . McMillian won the 100-meter dash in 10.95 seconds, took the 200 in 21.86 seconds and capped his day with a first in the 400 in 47.45 seconds.