MORRIS – The last time Morris hosted a track meet at its own school, Bill Clinton was president, Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France and a kid’s show called “SpongeBob SquarePants” made its debut.
On Tuesday, that long drought without a home meet ended, and the Redskins played host to Ottawa, Pontiac and Providence Catholic. Morris finished second in the boys meet and third in the girls, but the fact that they were running on their own track overshadowed the results.
“Running a meet is a big operation,” Morris boys coach Ryan Battersby said. “You have to make sure you have enough workers, for one. Usually, you rely on teams attending the meet to work a field event or something like that. Getting that organized is a big job. One of the biggest things is the timing system. If that’s not working properly, it can ruin a meet. J.D. Morrison – our tech guy – has been working on that, and it worked well. We got a lot of help from Ottawa coach Trent Swords. They have the same system as us. He helped us keep it going.
“There are a lot of things you forget about. We had concessions, so we had to talk to parents to work that since we don’t have an official boosters club. No matter how well you think you have things covered, something comes up.
“Getting the hurdles on and off the track can be a hassle, but our kids did a good job. Athletes are part of working the meet, as well. I was very happy with what they did. Everyone seemed to be around. If we needed someone, we didn’t have to search. Everyone was willing to chip in. The school maintenace staff helped out a lot, as well. They have never had to set up for a meet, so they worked with me on setting up the shot put and disc area. The weather helped, it was able to be dry and not as muddy in the long jump and pole vault areas. The discus and shot area is muddy, but it will get better. We want to try to have the least amount of surprises as we can, because we want teams that come here to want to come back.”
In the boys meet, Morris finished with 163 points, trailing only Providence’s total of 201. Pontiac was third with 138 and Ottawa fourth with 103.
The Redskins were without two athletes who had been top scorers both last season and during the indoor season – seniors Nic Davy and Austin Hatcher. Both were out with injuries. Davy expects to return soon, but Hatcher may be finished for the season.
Still, the boys team was able to come away with some strong finishes. Alejandro Ochoa won the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.28 and Jase Cole was third with a time of 23.89. In the 100-meter dash, freshman Marrion Foster was second with a time of 11.85 and senior Dan Grant took third in 12.13. Grant also won the pole vault, clearing 12-6. In the 400-meter dash, Francisco Perez (57.65) finished third in the 400-meter dash, with Sean Smith taking fourth in 58.24. The team of Ochoa, Foster, Cole and Grant won the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 44.95, while the same four won the 4x200 relay in 1:34.86. Morris’ 4x400 relay of Danny Davy, Keaton Auwerda, Matt Munsell and Colby Kingsbury finished second in 3:53.24.
Ryan Lain set a personal best of 6-1 in winning the high jump, 1 inch shy of the state-qualifying height, while sophomore Caleb Holliday also set a personal best in clearing 5-10 to finish second. Lain also was third in the long jump (18-4) and Holliday took fourth (34-8½) in the triple jump.
Battersby noted that girls head coach Ryan Hansen had a baby girl last week and was unavailable, so the next time they have a meet, they will have Hansen’s help, as well.
“Once he [Hansen] gets back, we will split duties,” Battersby said. “But, having been through it, it will be easier. Honestly, I don’t worry about scores in these weekday meets. They aren’t like a weekend invitational. If we do worry about them too much, then we might overload guys in events. We want to keep guys fresh for regionals and sectionals. We were able to get guys in who don’t get into invites on weekends.
“I was happy with how Marrion Foster ran. He covers a lot of ground quickly and will be very good for us. He’s still learning to come out of blocks and take relay handoffs, but that’s what these weekday meets are for. I like trying new kids in new events during the week to see who gets to run in what at the next invitational.
“I was glad to see Ryan Lain PR in the high jump. Caleb Holliday, too. Sean Smith is a sophomore who just started pole vaulting and he cleared 10 feet.”
In the girls meet, Morris finished third with 146 points, trailing Ottawa (258) and Providence (234).
Morris’ Alexis Smyk (18.00) and Alex Spaulding (18.18) finished 1-2 in the 100-meter hurdles, while Misek (16-7) won the long jump. Morris’ 4x100 relay of Sophie Pfaff, Alexis Johnson, Smyk and Misek finished second with a time of 52.69, while the same four were second in the 4x200 with a time of 1:54.28. Misek (26.91) and Johnson (27.61) were 1-2 in the 200-meter dash, as well. Bridget Landers (6:05.17) was second in the 1600-meter run for Morris, with teammates Abby Cunningham (6:15.84) third and Teagan Sandvick (6:16.30) fourth. Pfaff (30-4) finished fourth in the triple jump.
“Gina had a nice meet,” Battersby said. “And, Alexis Johnson, a freshman, did well in her events. Smyk and Spaulding did great finishing 1-2 in the hurdles.”
Overall, Battersby felt the day was a rousing success.
“We had a good crowd,” he said “We were happy with that. The kids were real excited to be in front of fans having them cheer them on. They didn’t have to ride a bus for an hour to run a meet and then get home at 10 o’clock. It was definitely worth all the work.
“Once it was all settled, I kind of reflected on how great it was for the kids and everyone involved that’s part of the process. With each meet, we will gain confidence on how to work it. Nobody thought three years ago that this would go on. I really hope having this facility will help build the program.”