By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Brett Deckard sacrificed a close shave for a sectional championship that was not close at all.
Bedford North Lawrence, making track and field cool again, crushed the competition while winning its first boys track sectional title since 2012 (and fifth overall) on Friday night, cruising to the crown with a whopping 157 points while Jennings County was a distant second with 85.
The top three finishers in each event advanced to the regional at Bloomington North on Thursday. BNL had qualifiers in 14 of the 16 events, including three individual champions and two winning relays.
“The last three years, all I’ve talked about is getting kids out, competition in practice, making them work hard,” said Deckard, who promised to shave his mustache and goatee if his team claimed the title. So sharpen those blades. “So the same guys don’t have to do every event. We have mainly upperclassmen, and that’s what makes you good. It just builds momentum.
“They come out and really enjoy it. Track is starting to become cool. It’s a team game, but in practice it’s an individual thing. They’ve all come together really well,. They’re excited for each other.”
After waiting an extra day (the meet was postponed on Thursday because of a lightning storm), the Stars struck in glorious fashion.
Taylor Porter won the 110-meter high hurdles in 15.40, Elijah Grider claimed the 300 hurdles in 40.81, and Lane Hawkins sailed over 6-foot-5 (a sectional record) to win the high jump.
Hawkins, a state qualifier last year, was shooting for greater height.
“Winning was one thing, but I really wanted to go past 6-9, to assure myself I could do it next week,” he said. “Winning is big, but I’m still disappointed. There will be good jumpers next week.
“Last year I freaked out and didn’t jump well. I guess I had a lot on mind mind. But this year I’m consistently doing better.”
The Stars won the 400 relay as Jamey Deckard, Drew Shoufler, Landon Grissom and Wyatt Martin were smooth in handoffs and fleet of foot, combining to clock 43.88.
“When we were seeded second, that made us a little mad,” Deckard said. “Handoffs went well, everybody ran fast. We did really well. Everybody is running to our potential.”
Deckard also teamed with Grider, Austin Roach and Chance Pemberton to win the 1600 relay in 3:35.83.
The impressive performances were not limited to winners. Cooper Holmes started the final lap of the 1600 in fourth place, almost 10 yards behind the leaders, but he made a remarkable move on the backstretch, briefly surged in front, then settled for second (4:32.54) in the night’s most entertaining race.
Shoufler was second in the 100, Pemberton was runner-up in the 400, and Cale Bunch was second in the discus.
The top three in the regional events will advance to the state finals at Indiana University on May 31.