CHARLESTON — The Three Rivers Conference left those in attendance at Saturday's IHSA State Track & Field Finals at Eastern Illinois University's O'Brien Field with a little something to talk about.
In the final race of the Class 1A finals, Sherrard, Morrison and Rockridge finished 1-2-3 in a blanket finish just a second apart in the 1,600 relay, giving the TRAC schools some track bragging rights.
The Tigers relay team that clocked a 3:24.48, which consisted of Ryan Mack, Levi Miles, Corbin Crippen and D’Angelo Moody, led most of the race. It was a personal best split from Miles that sent the Tigers into the lead.
Top-seeded Morrison (3:24.95) placed second, and Rockridge (3:25.54) finished third.
“I was extremely nervous at the start of my leg,” Miles said. “After the first 100 when Nick Shuda (Rockridge) passed me, I thought he pulled ahead a little early. My run was a personal best, and I just wanted to put my teammates farther ahead.”
Mack and the rest of the team were aware of the competition in the field, as they had run against them all season.
“Knowing Morrison was No. 1 (from Thursday's preliminaries), we knew that we had to stay with them,” Mack said. “Instead, we finished ahead of them.”
“We were able to compete against the top competition all season,” Moody said. “They’re real competitors.”
Sherrard’s team consisted of a few mismatched parts that ended up being the perfect quartet.
“This was my first track season since freshman year,” Miles said. “I should have joined a lot sooner.”
“This feels really nice because last year we just missed the cutoff to come down here,” Mack said. “This year we came in with a different team, and now we have the gold.”
Morrison coach Tim Duncan was happy with how his relay team of Alex Anderson, Koby Brackemeyer, Nathan Mickley and Hunter Newman did and found it interesting to see so many schools from the conference do well.
“When that kind of race happens, you focus on where your own kids are,” Duncan said. “But it’s great to see the local competition and our own conference succeed. Even Spring Valley Hall did well with their 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.”
Rockridge made a huge jump by placing third after coming into state with the sixth-best time from sectionals. A large part of that was Shuda running a huge second leg.
“Getting a good start was very important,” Shuda said. “I wanted to give Gabe (Vroman) and Sam (Whittington) a bit of room and get them in attacking distance. Having such fierce competition in our conference helps us out throughout the year.”
The Rockets team, with Gabe Rogers running the first leg, had plenty of experience together, as it was the same Rockridge quartet that qualified for state in 2018.
“This really means a lot to us,” Shuda said. “We worked all season for this, and even all of last year. We had the same relay team from last season when we just missed finals, so being able to run it back is great.”