Seymour boys claim track and field sectional title


Seymour’s boys’ track and field team sat in the corner of the Jennings County football field on Thursday, awaiting the final results to be read over the PA system.

As soon as Jennings County was announced second place, the Owls knew they had it in the bag. As Seymour was announced as sectional champions, the whole team stormed to midfield in celebration.

The team posed with the sectional trophy, and after taking pictures they took ice and poured it down the shirt of head coach Randy Fife.

“It’s really satisfying because these guys have worked hard all year long,” Fife said. “This was one of the most fun meets we’ve had. The kids were all supporting each other and watching each other’s events.”

Things started out well for the Owls in the first race of the day, the 4×800-meter relay.

When Isaac Schafer got the baton as the third leg in Seymour’s 4×8, he was zoned in on one thing: the runner in third place ahead of him that represents the place he and his team needed to finish to qualify for regionals.

When Schafer was a sophomore in 2019, the Owls’ 4×8 team finished fourth at sectionals, one place short of qualifying.

Schafer didn’t want to feel that way again, so by the time he handed it off to the team’s anchor in Carter Murphy, the Owls were in third place.

“Sit on that third place guy, keep him close and then catch him at the end and put the fourth runner in good position,” Schafer said of his strategy. “I knew Carter would finish it out for us and get us to regionals.”

The Owls (Michael Proffer, Kyler Leslie, Schafer, Murphy) did in fact place third with a time of 8:51.94 to qualify for regionals.

Schafer has been battling a bit of a left hamstring injury as well and said he was lucky to be able to compete on Thursday at Jennings County.

“I’ve never been to regionals before, so to make it my final year has been really exciting,” Schafer said. “We’re gonna get some good work in early in the week and taper it down a bit later in the week to be completely ready for regionals.”

That was the first race of the day, and the second race, the 110 high hurdles, also saw a Seymour athlete qualify.

Josh Pennington took first place in the hurdles with a time of 15.41.

“It feels good,” Pennington said. “Trying to get back to state like my sophomore year.”

Pennington believes he’s improved a lot in his final season in hurdles, really getting down the form with his legs and not having his arms flailing like year’s past.

Pennington used to do long jump but scratched that so he can focus more on hurdles. He also ran the 4×100 and 4×400.

The Owls took home first place in the 4×1 with the team of Pennington, Elijah Abner, Chandler Drummond and Reid Kruse, running a 44.91.

“I think we had a good chance to win the 4×1,” Pennington said.

Kruse just missed out on regionals in the 100, finishing fourth place with a time of 11.53.

Brandon Kleber nearly won the 1600 down the final stretch, but he finished second place to qualify for regionals with a time of 4:35.80, which is a PR for him. The first place finisher from Jennings County barely edged him out with a time of 4:35.56.

Kleber turned around and won the 3200 later in the meet with a time of 10:08.60.

“I was just going out to win it,” Kleber said. “It’s going to be close scoring-wise, so I knew we needed the win. I didn’t really care about my time, just the first place.”

There were two runners from Jennings County that hung with Kleber for the first half of the race, but then Kleber pulled away and built a comfortable lead, saying he feels like he gets stronger as the race goes.

As Kleber neared the finish line, he puffed out his jersey in celebration as it’s his first sectional win — and regional qualifier — of his four-year career.

“It means a lot,” Kleber said. “I’m just happy to be here. It just feels good to go out there and win.”

Kleber will drop the mile at regionals and solely focus on the two mile.

Another first-placed finish for the Owls came from Chandler Drummond. After a third-place finish in conference a week ago in pole vault, Drummond bounced back to win the event at sectionals with a jump of 10’0”. Collin Hankins will be joining Drummond at regionals as he placed third with a 9’6”.

Kyler Leslie qualified in the 300 hurdles with a second-place finish of 43.28, Bryson Darlage was third in the long jump with a 20’7” to advance, and Preston Applegate was the final Owl to qualify, finishing third in the shot put with a throw of 43’9”.

“You don’t win with one individual or two, it’s a team effort up and down,” Fife said. “We’re happy that a lot of kids get to go on. We point to trying to win as a team.”

Brownstown’s Dustyn Kocsis will be heading to regionals after winning the discus with a throw of 137’8”.

Kocsis scratched on his first two throws, so he couldn’t afford another one heading into his third throw.

“We told him he had to get one in to make it to the finals, and he got one in,” head coach Maria Conklin said. “In finals, he had one decent throw. We thought he was in the lead, but another kid took the lead, but we’re pretty pleased with second place.

“I know he has a lot of work to do if he wants to make state.”

Then Isaiah Engle qualified in the 300 hurdles for the Braves with a time of 43.46, which got him third place.

Engle told the coaching staff on Wednesday that we wanted to make it to regionals.

“He just attacked every single hurdle,” Conklin said. “He’s just a freshman and raw as can be, and he just dropped three seconds going into conference and another second today. The sky is the limit for him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he drops another second at regionals.”

Both qualifiers from Brownstown and Seymour will compete in regionals next Thursday at Bloomington North.

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