CHAMPAIGN — A school record that had stood for 38 years went down Thursday the first time Luke Vaughn threw the discus.
The Centennial High junior produced a toss of 172 feet, 11 inches, which was good enough to win the Big 12 Conference title. All five throws that he kept inbounds at Harold Jester Track were career bests.
Vaughn wasn't surprised. "I've been expecting it," he said. "I've been in the 180s in practice. It's a relief to get it (school record) out of the way and start chasing the 180s."
The previous mark (171-1) was held by Brian Kueker. When Greg Walters switched from coaching girls to boys in 2001, such performances weren't within the realm of possibility.
"We might have kids in the 135 range," he said. "Back then we didn't have a dedicated throws coach."
Justin Barnhart held that position for seven years. The past two seasons it has been someone who knows Vaughn well: his father, Tony.
"It's kind of nice," Luke Vaughn said. "I can talk to him and he can tell me things without hurting my feelings. At the dinner table, we talk about the shot and discus."
He is targeting 185 feet in the discus — which would be top four all time for area athletes — by season's end and the school record (56-8 3/4) in the shot. Vaughn, who transferred to Centennial from East Peoria as a freshman, nearly secured a double-double but wound up second by one-half an inch in the shot put. His 55-11 1/2 was his best ever by more than 4 feet.
Senior Joshua Robinson was a double winner for meet champion Danville, sweeping the hurdles races with personal-best times. He ran track as a freshman but took the next year off.
"I didn't think track was for me," Robinson said, "but I thought again because it's something I'm good at. My junior and senior years I've been improving. If I'd run my sophomore year, I'd probably be even better."
Danville's last Big 12 outdoor title was 1993.