July 03, 2013Track and field is on a comeback at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, and that was evident this year with the junior high boys' team winning the Patoka Lake Athletic Conference meet championship. The Lady Pack had a good showing as well, finishing second overall.
"The boys were conference champions with a total record or 22-1," coach Brad Mills said. "Their only loss of the season was to Perry Central in a duel meet. The boys actually rebounded in the PLAC championships to defeat Perry by five points. It was a total team effort."
"My ladies performed well, also," Mills said. "They went 19-4 and were runners-up in the PLAC. Two of those four losses came to Perry Central, so that kind of stung. But the girls really worked very hard to get back there."
The junior high conference meet was run on a very rainy May 4 at Mitchell High School.
"It was really wet conditions," Mills said. "I think it rained the whole time we were there. We were quite wet, but we survived."
Despite the wet conditions, Crawford County focused on what it needed to do to get the job done. That included individual wins as well as big wins in relay events. Mills said some of those who placed farther back but still scored proved to be a determining factor in the outcome.
"We had Ty Nicholson, who was able to capture the high jump as an individual PLAC champion," Mills said. "Five-foot, two (inches) was his best. Our boys' 4-by-100 team of Darius Sutton, Christian Caydon, Brian Mitchell and Cooper Murphy captured the 4-by-100 relay title. They actually set a school record. We were able to win the competition by mere inches to win it. What really helped us out was Perry dropped the baton and then fell all the way to fifth place. But we beat Mitchell by just as eyelash."
The Wolfpack also won the 1,600-meter relay.
"That team was Christian Caydon, Cooper Murphy, Brian Mitchell and Ty Nickelson," Mills said. "They were a very motivated group. They actually only lost once all year. Both of those relay teams were motivated to win."
Crawford County's Lady Pack team also came away with individual winners.
"On the ladies' side, we actually had two individual conference champions," Mills said. "That was (seventh-grader) Carly Smith in the shot put and (seventh-grader) Katey Kaiser in the high jump. Her height was 4-11, and that was a personal record."
While a lot of Crawford County's sprinters did most of the damage toward the meet win, Mills said it was a complete team effort.
"It took so much of us all doing the right things at the right time," Mills said. "It came down to kids coming through with a fifth-place here or a sixth-place here. Every point mattered. We kind of figured it up the whole season we're going to have to chip, chip, chip away at things. We're not going to be able to just blow people out of the water, especially in a big meet.
"These kids were dedicated and worked hard. I've never had a bunch work harder and stay as focused. They really showed you the attributes of their character. … From start to finish, one of the things I always preach is our relays. Our relays is always a way for us to make some good statements."
That big moment when Perry Central dropped the baton in the 4-by-100 relay also turned Mills into a motivator.
"It was a tight meet," Mills said. "Perry, when they dropped the baton, we realized the door had been opened. But we go into an event where we probably had our worst 400, which is one of our weaker events. We saved this young man for the (1,600-meter) relay at the end because I needed him. I challenged Brian Mitchell and said, 'You've got to place in this,' and he ran a personal best time in that to secure a fifth spot. That doesn't seem like much, but it was two points, and two points was huge in that event."
The week had been a long one for Crawford County before the conference meet.
"We had had a very long week where we had three meets in one week, and this was actually was our fourth in one week," Mills said. "That schedule next year, we're making some changes to it. But it really talks about the resilience of them to continue and wanting to get better. They never once hung their heads."
Mills also gave credit to high school coaches Mark Boone and Jeff Balmer as well as the parents and assistant coaches who helped in building up the team. He said the school's elementary programs have also played a major role in the team's improvement.
"The future there is really bright," Mills said. "We called up two sixth-graders to help us out in the (girls') distance events because they had completed their season, and they helped us out tremendously — Addie Smith and Amesley Logsdon. We kind of pieced together some keys there."
"We set some records," he said. "The girls' 4-by-100 team ran awesome and set a record during the school year. Jenny Jellison also set the girls' 200-meter record. It was pretty legit, but we had to have everyone. There were so many medals these guys got, it was ridiculous. It was really awesome."
Mills said the improvement of the elementary and junior high school programs have already shown in the high school program, which had a successful 2013 season.
"Seeing young ladies like Brooklyn Matlock, who was the overall varsity PLAC point-getter, that's a little thrill for me to go there and see them make those strides," Mills said. "I totally see a bright future for the teams because we've got some kids here who are really focused on track. We've got a lot of kids that in the spring I think they'll choose to run track. It will pay off in spades here pretty soon."