MAHOMET – Success stories abound in high school track and field.
Performances by Mahomet-Seymour senior Blake Sorensen, Fisher senior Jared Hayden and Urbana University High junior Malcolm Taylor in Saturday's Bulldog Invitational are proof of that.
Sorensen won the 300-meter hurdles and finished second in the 110 highs after being told he never might compete again after a serious football injury last fall. Hayden won the 800 despite running track for the first time since his freshman year.
Taylor's victory in the 400 showed he took the right tact when he convinced his coaches to move down from the 800 this season.
"Most of the doctors my parents talked to said competing in track was crazy," Sorensen said. "I suffered torn ligament damage in my tendons and injury around the groin area in the final regular season game.
"While I knew I could never compete in a contact sport again, I didn't give up on track. I did a lot of swimming and other therapy. My doctor finally gave me the OK with the restriction to stop if I ever felt any pain. It hasn't hurt so far."
Sorensen's next goal is to qualify for the state meet for the first time in his prep career.
"I've always liked the highs the best," Sorensen said, "but I've actually been running the lows real well the last few weeks. (Assistant coach Gary) Garrison is the reason for our success in the hurdles. He's really good at teaching the small things most coaches don't even think about."
Hayden admits he's even surprising himself with his success this season after forsaking track for baseball his sophomore and junior seasons.
"I figured track and baseball both was too much," Hayden said. "I decided to do both this year since it's my senior year. I'm really glad I did. This is going to give me my best chance of making it to a state meet. I'm definitely surprising myself. I've always liked to run, but I never expected to do this well."
Taylor said he felt his natural speed and the endurance he's acquired from running cross-country made the 400 a "natural for me."
"You have to pace yourself and decide when to kick in the 800," Taylor said, "where I just go all out from the start in the 400. My time today (48.99 seconds) was a personal best. I think I can still go faster. That's why you work so hard in practice. Qualifying for the state meet would be good experience for me as I have another year to im- prove."
M-S scored heavily in the hurdles and the relays to win the 16-team meet with 111 points. Olympia was second with 95, followed by Monticello (74.5), Normal University High (69), Fisher (49) and St. Joseph-Ogden (46).
M-S' Dustin Kinkelaar finished second to Sorensen in the 300 hurdles and third in the lows. The Bulldogs won the 400 and 800 relays and finished second in the 1,600 relay.
Blake Doane (200), Steve Regan (1,600) and the 3,200 relay were winners to account for a bulk of Monticello's third-place points.