STERLING — Princeton and Bureau Valley athletes made the most of Saturday’s First Chance Indoor Invitational at the Westwood Complex in Sterling.
Two Bureau Valley boys and one Princeton athlete made off with first-place finishes as area athletes continue to take steps toward qualifying for the Prep Top Times Indoor State finals on March 23-24 in Bloomington.
Princeton junior Austen Stewart won the high jump by two inches, clearing 6-4. Having gone 6-5 last week to qualify for the Top Times, Stewart bypassed 6-6 and went for 6-7, but was unsuccessful.
Tigers Evan Suarez (8.05) and Tyler Barnas (8.23) went 1-2 in the 55-meter hurdles, having previously qualified for indoor state last week.
“I was very happy with all our performances. It is nice to get a good measuring point, to see where we need to improve,” PHS coach Dan Foes said.
Princeton’s James Dove placed third in pole vault at 12-6 and Jacob Fisher took sixth in the triple jump at 37-10. The Tigers also placed fifth in the 4x800 with Zach Holmbeck, Sam Schlesinger, Zach Anderson and Victor Wolsfeld.
For Bureau Valley, Logan Hoffert won the triple jump (39-1 1/2) and qualified for indoor state with a third-place finish in the 55-meter hurdles behind the Princeton pair with a time of 8.54.
BV senior strong man Adam Weidner won shot put by one inch over Geneseo’s Joe Huffman with a toss of 53-7 1/2. BV coach Nick Hartz noted it was a little closer than normal for Weidner, but it’s early in the season.
BV senior Derrick Johnson placed fourth in the 1600 (9:24.5), missing out on qualifying by .08 of a second. Also for Bureau Valley, Parker Neuhalfen placed fourth in the long jump (19-0 1/2) and fifth in the 400 (55.2), Ryan Johnson was sixth in the 400 (57.51) and Kristian Konneck was sixth in the 200 (2473). The Storm also placed fifth in the 4x200 (1:39.38).
The Storm also won the 4x400 on the legs of Neuhalfen, Derrick Johnson, Daniel Trone and Hoffert setting a BV indoor record at 3:36.73.
“I was pretty happy how we did. We got a lot of medals,” Hartz said. “We like going up there, it’s good competition and makes the kids run against and come up against schools sometimes three times our size.”
The Storm had a rough start to their day when a meet official told a Storm runner he was done a lap early. By the time, Hartz got his man going again, the Storm were out of the medal hunt.
• Princeton’s girls also competed Saturday, but BV did not. Phoenix Smallwood paced the Tigresses with a fourth-place finish in the triple jump (34-4 1/2) and a fifth-place finish in the long jump (15-9). Colby Schertz set a new PHS freshman indoor record in the shot put at 30-4, but did not place.
“We had some nice performances even though we placed in just a few events,” PHS coach Pat Hodge.
The PHS coach noted the Tigresses ran under 11 minutes, despite missing sophomore Zoe Mead, with each runner (Kara Birch, Sierra Storm, Emma Makransky and C.J. Rhodes) getting a season best split. Another plus, Hodge said, was having two more freshman shot putters, Taylor Clark and Nicole Holland, topped 29 feet.
• There were no team scores kept Saturday. The BV boys will return to Westwood on Friday. ... The Prep Top Times Indoor Finals will be held March 23 for Class 1A (BV, Hall, St. Bede) and March 24 for Class 2A (Princeton) at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.