Houmes, Plotner leave their marks
CATLIN — Every winner had a story, but the best ones belonged to Lauren Houmes and Toria Plotner.
Houmes, from Hoopeston Area, and Plotner, from Salt Fork, accounted for all three of the records that fell in Friday’s Vermilion County girls’ and boys’ track and field meets.
Plotner became the first runner in the event’s history to break the minute barrier in the 400 meters. She stopped the clock in 59.93 seconds. The previous mark was 1:00.6.
Rather than celebrate, the athlete who was the runner-up in the 100 and 200 to Bismarck-Henning’s Mary Bass talked about running faster.
“If people push me, I can definitely do it,” said Plotner, whose win was by almost four seconds. “I like the 400 because you can pace yourself and you have to use your guts instead of just talent.”
Houmes took down the oldest county standard. Her 11:47 effort in the 3,200 chopped 27 seconds off the 1981 record set by B-H’s Nancy Herr.
In the 1,600, Houmes knocked more than four seconds off the record she established in 2011. Her new mark is 5:23.46.
Her difficulty was in deciding which race was most meaningful.
“The 31-year-old record is cool,” she said, “but to be faster than my previous (1,600) record shows I’m improving.”
Houmes and Plotner weren’t the only girls’ headliners.
Meet champion Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac swept the four relay races (with Cheyenne Sadlek running on three of the relays and Preslie Fletcher anchoring the two distance relays) and senior Makenzie Baker was triumphant in all four of her individual events.
Baker swept the three jumping events and followed up with a win in the 300 hurdles (48.81) the second time she ran them in competition.
“I jumped the longest or the furthest in all of my events,” said Baker, who has been tutored in the hurdles by Gary Spezia.
“He’s made me feel that I can actually do it,” said Baker, a three-spoirt standout who will focus on track and field in college.
“I wanted volleyball or basketball, but I had better scholarships (offers) in track,” she said. “The more I’ve done it, the more I like it. It keeps me in shape.”
In the 300 hurdles, Baker led teammate Hailey Bennett to the finish line. Bennett won the 100 hurdles. Baker also led a Comets sweep in each of her jumping events. Fletcher was second in the triple jump, Angela Elliott was second in the long jump and Summer Kitchens was second in the high jump.
Another two-event winner for the girls was Salt Fork's Rachel Negangard, who hit career bests in the discus (112 feet, 2 inches) and the shot put (33-10).
A first-year participant in track, Negangard thought she’d contribute.
“I’m strong, so I felt I’d do somewhat decent,” said Negangard, whose discus toss was her best by 12 feet.
O/A-P amassed 184 points. Runner-up Bismarck-Henning had 137. Salt Fork was third with 99.
Vermilion County boys’ meet. Third-place Salt Fork had the three individual double winners, but Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman won four events and the sprint relay to capture team laurels. The Buffaloes totaled 128 points. Oakwood/A-P had 99, and Salt Fork had 94.
Hurdler Taylor Kirby, jumper Kaleb Weaver and weightman Alec Dutton dominated their specialties.
Weaver registered personal bests in the triple jump (43-61/4) and the long jump (21-21/4).
“My freshman year, Coach needed a jumper, and I decided to try it,” Weaver said. “Each year, I’ve gone up about a foot in the triple jump.”
Kirby beat high jump champion Ryan Dieu (Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman) to the finish of the 300 hurdles, winning in 43.05. In the 110 highs, he outstepped Bismarck-Henning’s Dalton Ervin, closing in 16.09.
Like girls’ winner Baker, he has been tutored by Spezia.
“He’s helped me with my quickness, form and endurance,” Kirby said.
His wins carried on a family tradition. His father, Troy, was a county champion for Jamaica in 1981.
“I’m trying to get his best time (14.9),” Taylor Kirby added.
Dutton won the discus by more than 19 feet and beat Westville’s Nick Woods in the shot put by about 6 inches, with a winning toss of 45-11/2.
Dieu disdains the tradtional high jump approach (flop) while opting for a scissors-type approach. He matched his career best (5-10) while becoming a county champion.
“I’m not too good at it (the other way),” said Dieu, a first-year high jumper.
G-RF/C brothers Matt (3,200) and Wyatt Avenatti (1,600) won their races. Teammate George Foehrer captured the 200 and ran a leg on the winning 400 relay with Dieu, Andy Nicholson and anchor Tyson Reed.
Hoopeston Area’s Robbie Irvin won the 400 and joined Hayden Seidel as runners on the winning 1,600 relay for the third year in a row. Other runners in the meet-ending race were Chris Umbanhowar and Robert Baum.
O/A-P’s Cole Burris won the 800 and teamed up with Brandon Divan, Leighton Elliott and Erik Tharp on the winning 3,200 relay.
Westville’s Shane Overshiner, the 100-meter titlist, ran with Robert Elliott, Woods and Johnny Sullivan as the Tigers edged Salt Fork in the 800 relay.
At Bloomington. Danville's Alexus Jimson-Miller won the 100 hurdles, the 200 and set the Big 12 meet record in the 400 in 57.71, leading the Vikings to fourth place.
Centennial, which got wins from Avona Greene (100) and the 400 relay team of Greene, Andrea Wise, LaToyah Mason and Bertha Frazier, was third to champion Normal Community and runner-up Normal West.
Champaign Central's Samone Thompson was a three-time winner (300 hurdles, long jump, high jump). Urbana's Nicole Choquette (800) was the area's other individual champion.
At St. Joseph. Jordyn Nettleton won the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles and Angel Gaesser won the 400, leading Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley to a win at the 13-team St. Joseph-Ogden Lady Spartan Classic. The Falcons finished with 147.5 points, edging runner-up SJ-O (142). Fisher (58) was third.
GCMS' 3,200 relay team of Jess Meyer, Sydni Meunier, LaToya Baillie and Gaesser was victorious, as was the 1,600 relay team of Nettleton, Meunier, Gaesser and Baillie.
SJ-O's Rachel Ballard won the triple jump, 100 and 200. Chelsea Blaase won the 3,200.
At Monticello. Sullivan finished third at the 10-team Lady Sages Invitational, led by individual winners Paige Neuhauser (200) and Amanda McClain (400, long jump).
Argenta-Oreana's Kandie Bloch won the high jump, and Unity's Bailey Reifsteck won the pole vault.