By JEFF LAMPE
For The Weekly Post
CHARLESTON – Isaiah Hill was tired and even a little frustrated heading into his final event of a long Saturday at the Class 1A state track meet.
By the time the 1,600-meter race had ended, Hill was no longer angry and – even more surprising – no longer weary.
“I was actually more tired going into the race than after it,” Hill said. “Because the finish really pumped me up.”
Running sixth heading into the final lap, Hill sprinted past five foes to finish second in 4:19.93 – a personal record and E-B school record. Port Byron Riverdale senior Tommy Murray was the lone runner who stayed ahead of Hill, and that by just .69 seconds.
Hill had run a 4:21.47 in prelims to better the school record set last year at state by Thomas Harmon.
Hill’s finish in the finals was even more impressive given that he had run a 1:52.3 anchor leg for E-B’s fifth-place 4×800 relay – the second event of the day – and was fifth in the 800 in 1:55.38.
“You run a 1:55 and a 1:52 and most guys are done for the day,” E-B Gregg Meyers said. “But that 1,600 went about perfect for him. Everybody wanted to know how fast he went in the last lap (58 seconds), but to run a 2:02.9 last half on the mile shows the strength and determination he has.”
So does this surprising fact. Hill is the first E-B male track athlete to come home from a state meet with three medals.
“I was surprised by that, too,” Hill said. “I was told that going into the mile. I think coach was a little worried I would be tired and wanted to get me excited for the mile. It definitely helped give me some motivation.”
So did that fourth-place finish in the 800, which is nothing to sneeze at, but is definitely not what Hill had planned on in an event for which he holds the school record and was a Class 1A leader for much of the spring.
“He couldn’t get out and got cut off a couple times and couldn’t get into a rhythm. It was a cluttered mess for him,” Meyers said. “I think he was expecting to be one of the top two. To have that race not go ideally, he got a little frustrated and maybe had a little chip on his shoulder.”
Julian Aske of Evanston Beacon Academy was the 800 winner in 1:53.53. But the next two finishers posted times slower than Hill’s school-record 1:54.26.
“I was really disappointed after my 800 and placing fourth,” Hill said. “Someone crossed in a little too early and I had to slow down and speed up again and I lost most of my speed. And that was at the 600-meter mark, so going into the end I lost a lot of speed.”
Speed was no problem for Hill in the 4×800, as he took the baton with the Trojans in 10th and sprinted E-B to a fifth-place finish in 8:10.61. Elgin Harvest Christian Academy won in 7:58.35.
His three relay mates also improved dramatically after a sub-par race in the prelims. E-B came to state seeded second, but was fortunate to make the finals with a 12th-place time of 8:22.31.
“It just wasn’t our best race,” Meyers said. “But to go from the 12th team to the fifth team in two days, I think they responded really well.
“They dropped their time by nine seconds.”
Meyers said senior Brendan Williams, freshman Aiden Faulkner and junior Reed Florey all posted PRs in the finals.
“Both Aiden and Reed had never been there before, so I think it helped to have that Thursday to get used to it,” Meyers said.
The medal was E-B’s 11th since 1976.
“You take three events down there and all three get to the finals and for all three to get medals, that’s about perfect,” Meyers said.
After posting two school records and winning three medals this outdoor season, Hill said he has his sights on more next spring.
“I want to get the two-mile record. It’s a pretty old record and if I can take that down, I’d be really happy,” Hill said.
Other local athletes competed in prelims but did not make finals.
Farmington junior Brayden Morse tied for 14th in Class 1A pole vault after clearing 11 feet, 11.75 inches and senior Logan Morse tied for 15th in high jump after clearing 5-10.75 in prelims. Finishing 21st in prelims in 1:32.94 was the Farmers’ 4×200 relay of Hunter Darsham, Jake Martin, Kyle Miller and Logan Morse. Farmington was 32nd in the 4×400 relay in 3:39.59.
Senior Brody Bledsoe of ROWVA-Williamsfield was 16th in shot put with a throw of 46-11.75 and placed 24th in discus after a throw of 130-9.
Princeville junior Tayshaun Kieser was 19th in the 400 in 51.86 seconds. Kieser was also part of Princeville’s 4×400 relay that ran 19th in 3:38.28 and included Jordan Johnson, Parker Melick and Joey Bosch. Princeville’s 4×800 relay ran 18th in 8:35.55 and included Johnson, Tucker Sennett, Melick and Bosch, who was 26th in 800 prelims.
By JEFF LAMPE