Seymour boys track and field head coach Randy Fife was standing on the opposite side of the track as he watched senior Josh Pennington run the 110 hurdles.
At one moment, Fife thought Pennington slid back to fourth place — he needed third to qualify for state meet — but then Pennington made one last push over the final hurdle, and he leaned forward as he crossed the finish line.
It was a tight finish, and there was still uncertainty what place Pennington ended up in, but as the results flashed up on the big screen at Bloomington North High School on Thursday night, the name “Pennington” flashed in the second place spot with a time of 15.46.
“I thought, ‘OK, did he get it? Did he get it?’” Fife said. “Then you see the scoreboard and you think, ‘OK, thank goodness.’”
Once Pennington saw his name flash across the screen, he began jumping up and down, pumping his fists and pointing to his supporters in the stands.
The Seymour senior then ran over to all of his coaches and hugged every one of them.
“It was great. I loved it,” Pennington said. “It’s great coming back my senior year.”
Pennington believes one of the key reasons he got second place was because he leaned forward at the finish line just a tad more than everyone else around him.
Once you have the speed that Pennington has, hurdles becomes all about form.
“I hit my knee a couple times (on the hurdle) but just got to work on that,” Pennington said. “It’s all form. It’s getting over the hurdle and getting down as quickly as possible, which isn’t my strong suit. That’s all I need to do is work on my trail leg.”
Pennington’s goals throughout the season have been two things: Get to the state meet and run under 15 seconds. He has accomplished one of those already, and he will get one more shot to try to accomplish the other.
He will be no stranger to the state meet, though. Pennington qualified in the 110 hurdles his sophomore year, as well.
“I think honestly during sophomore year, I was nervous because it’s state and I’ve never been there,” Pennington said. “I think I’ll be more calm now and run more fluently. That’s all I can hope for.”
The thought of Thursday’s regional potentially being his last meet as a senior never crossed his mind.
“Another opportunity to move forward,” as Pennington put it. He did just that, but that next step forward just so happens to be the final meet of his senior campaign at Ben Davis High School for the state championships.
“It’s just do my best,” Pennington said. “I’m just there to be there, to have fun. It’s my last year.”
After graduating, Pennington will be enlisting into the U.S. Navy on Aug. 11 in Great Lakes, Michigan.
But he’s going to make the most of running those hurdles one final time.
“He’s one of the hardest-working kids we have,” Fife said. “It’s a matter of running a clean race, not hitting the hurdle, getting a good start and keeping your focus. He did that, and I’m very proud of him. Looking forward to going up to the state meet with him.”