It hadn’t been a particularly good day for Wabash Valley track and field Friday, and it wasn’t looking like a good one for Jackson Bertoli either.
The Terre Haute South junior, the Valley’s best — and by this time only — hope for a podium finish at the IHSAA boys state finals, was boxed in for a couple of laps of the 3,200-meter run, nearer the back of the 27-runner field than the front.
“He had all of us sweating the first mile,” South coach Kyle Walsh said later.
Past the halfway point of the race, however, Bertoli made his move. He found some running room and quickly moved into contention, taking third place with a lap to go before finishing fourth behind the big kick of Brebeuf’s Zack Snider.
“It was my season-best [time of 9:12.81], so I can’t complain too much about that,” Bertoli said after the race.
“He had to body up against some guys, but he fought his way out like a veteran runner would,” Walsh said.
“I got boxed in pretty good,” Bertoli agreed. “I tried to keep my composure and move my way up … but I finally had to take a chance and it paid off pretty good. I swung way out and tried to make up as much as I could. There was not much more I could do.”
Bertoli’s main competition had figured to be Barr-Reeve’s Connor Sorrells, the state cross country champion ahead of Bertoli in the fall. Sorrells needed a long time to get to the front too, and after he did he was passed on the last lap by Southport’s Clayton Bowie for first place.
“[Bowie] wasn’t even on anybody’s radar last year,” Bertoli pointed out. “He had the run of his life [including a 11-second personal best]. I’m glad he’s a junior, so I can run against him next year.”
Next year — and in two more races this spring — Bertoli should be even better, after missing competition from cross country until the midpoint of the track season because of an injury.
“With all the adversity he’s been through, he’s [only] in midseason form right now [instead of at his peak],” Walsh noted.
Bertoli was easily the highlight of Wabash Valley competitors, the next-best finishes being a 10th-place effort by Linton’s Grant Stamm in the 300-meter hurdles.
Two Terre Haute North competitors were eliminated early.
Cam Stewart, whose last two competitions might make him the state’s hurdler with the worst luck, had a hurdle tumble in front of him in his qualifying heat and finished nearly three seconds off his best time in a 15-second event. He didn’t move on and teammate Lee Davis scratched on three discus attempts as well. Stamm also failed to qualify in the 110 hurdles.
South’s Tyler Seibert and North’s 400 relay team of Jordan Moothery, Kai Stratten, Nate Carson and Dominick Farr failed to overcome slow heats in their respective races.
Also, South’s Riley Stohler was 15th in the 800 run and teammate Logan Hambrock never got untracked in an extremely fast 1,600 run.
The 300 hurdles was the Valley’s busiest event and North’s best. Cole Seward exceeded his seed time despite the slow heat and finished 15th, while Northview’s Ian Heffner was 20th and South’s Jeremy Patterson 23rd.
“At the state finals, it’s up in the air how you’re going to perform,” Walsh said. “I know each of our guys approached it with the right mindset, and they left it out on the track.”
Hamilton Southeastern handily won the team championship and Lawrence Central’s Matt Dorsey received the Robert S. Hinshaw Mental Attitude Award.
IHSAA boys track state finals
3,200 relay — Carroll (Allen) 7:40.14.
100 — Matthew Johnson (Lafayette Jeff) 10.74.
110 HH — Marsalis Gibson (Bowman Academy) 14.19; 13. Grant Stamm (Linton) 15.84; 26. Cam Stewart (THN) 16.74.
1,600 — Troy Reeder (Hamilton Southeastern) 4:07.26; 22. Logan Hambrock (THS) 4:31.45.
400 relay — Lafayette Jeff 41.41; 22. Terre Haute North (Jordan Moothery, Kai Stratten, Nate Carson, Dominick Farr) 43.54.
400 — Ryan Davis (HSE) 47.25; 20. Tyler Seibert (THS) 50.61.
300 IH — Conner Stapleton (Center Grove) 37.26; 10. Stamm (L) 38.79; 15. Cole Seward (THN) 39.85; 20. Ian Heffner (Northview) 40.83; 23. Jeremy Patterson (THS) 41.72.
800 — Matt Dorsey (Lawrence Central) 1:52.74; 15. Riley Stohler (THS) 1:57.19.
200 — Carl McQuay (LJ) 21.73.
3,200 — Clayton Bowie (Southport) 9:01.36; 4. Jackson Bertoli (THS) 9:12.81.
1,600 relay — Hamilton Southeastern 3:14.74.
PV — Jared Schipper (Fort Wayne Dwenger) 16-3.
LJ — Grant Cole (Eastern Howard) 23-5 1/4.
D — Codie Hamsley (Floyd Central) 194-0, Lee Davis (THN) foul.
HJ — Eric Blackman (Evansville Harrison) 6-8.
SP — Lukayus McNeil (Decatur Central) 61-6.