|Fri, Jul 25, 2014 07:09 PM
June 11, 2014 | 09:13 AM
The Floyd Central Highlanders had a good day at the boys' state finals track meet Saturday afternoon at the Indiana University track facility, placing three in scoring position to medal in three individual events.
Long jumper Antonio Villegas, sprinter Gaige Klingsmith and distance runner Adam Wallace all scored spots on the podium for the Highlanders.
North Harrison's Daniel Fleace (557) races against Fort Wayne-Carroll's Cameron Clements through a lap in the 3,200-meter run in the state final. Fleace finished 17th in a time of 9:32.99. Photo by Wade Bell
The day didn't fare quite as well for North Harrison's Daniel Fleace along with Perry Central's Aaron Pierrard and Andrew Huber who came up short of scoring in their three events.
Fleace was hoping to improve on his personal best time of 9:32 in the 3,200-meter run, being among a contingent of strong runners from throughout the state. The Cougar junior wasn't that far off, running a 9:32.99 that was good enough for the 17th position.
"It was my first (track) state finals," Fleace said after his run. "I've been in big races, so it's what I expected. There were a lot of good guys going after it. That wasn't the race I wanted, so I'll have to come back with a better one next year."
The field stayed compact and tight through the first four laps of the race with Fleace trying to hold on to the lead group. At the halfway point, however, the lead runners started to separate at a pace Fleace wasn't able to hold.
"It was slower than what I expected it to be," he said of the first four laps. "I thought the pace was decent. I thought I could handle it. I didn't. I thought I was in pretty good position. I was on the back of a pretty big pack. I was just trying to hang on there 'til the last couple of laps. The last couple of laps I was going to move on that pack and make a big move and surge toward the front of it. I lost positions somewhere in the middle towards the back of the pack."
Fleace said he would go back to work in an effort to come back next year and improve his time and position.
"It was a good race," he said. "There was a lot of good guys in the race. ... I thought I could run faster than my PR, so it's kind of disappointing. It's not what I wanted, so I'll head back to square one."
Villegas was the first to score for the Highlanders but not without some struggles. The Floyd Central freshman fouled on his first two attempts but made good on his third with a leap of 22 feet, 6-1/2 inches, which was good enough to make the finals.
"When I got here, my leg was hurting in the back and I had to adjust my approach a little," Villegas said. "I didn't feel real good."
In the finals, Villegas improved his position. The freshman had a leap of 22 feet, 8-1/2 inches then jumped 22 feet, 10 inches for sixth place.
"I was thinking I had to do it," Villegas said. "In the finals, I had to improve. I did 22-10, which is way better than 22-6, which is what I got in the prelims. It's better. It's a little bit disappointing, but I'm happy with it. I still have three years to make it happen."
Klingsmith ran identical times in both the preliminary and finals of the 100-meter dash. He had the seventh fastest time in the early heats at 11.02 seconds. In the finals, the Floyd Central junior also ran 11.02 to finish seventh and earn a place on the podium.
"My start was better," Klingsmith said. "I just didn't have it at the end. There's a lot of good competition up here. I'm just a junior, though, so I've got another year."
Last year, Perry Central's Pierrard ran at the state finals with his 3,200-meter relay team. This time, the junior was there individually in the 1,600-meter run. The pace of the race was brutal, with Pierrard in mid-pack at the halfway point. He fell back slightly before the finish, placing 20th with a time of 4:26.02.
In the 400-meter relay, the Floyd Central Highlanders missed a top-nine finish by four spots, finishing 13th in 43.03 seconds. Klingsmith came back to anchor the squad after running his own 100 meters individually.
The 10th position is the one most runners at the state finals dread because it is one spot out of a podium and medal finish. That was the position in which Perry Central's Huber, a senior, found himself in the 300-meter hurdles. Huber was hoping to break his brother Nick's school record of 38.62, which would have been good for eighth place. Huber still ran a fast 38.97, but that was not good enough to score.
Floyd Central's Wallace had a door open for him in the 800-meter run and worked to push himself through it. Running in the first heat, Wallace found himself boxed in at the end of the first lap but then pushed his way out. Wallace found another gear and worked to the front with just less than 100 meters to go. In the last 50, however, Lawrence North's Joe Murphy pushed ahead to win the heat. The second heat was a faster one, but Wallace's personal best time of 1:55.00 was good enough for the seventh position and a spot on the podium.