Boys Track Finishes Second At Grant 4

Posted on April 28, 2018 in Boy's Track, Spring Sports

GAS CITY – Connor White and Brennan Butche have engaged in a battle of one upmanship throughout their high school careers.

Friday evening at the Grant Four Invitational boys’ track and field meet, it was White who stepped up. The Eastbrook senior beat Butche convincingly in two head-to-head matches and also rallied the Panthers to a third consecutive team championship.

Eastbrook finished with 95.5 points to Oak Hill’s 88.5, while host Mississinewa garnered 41 and Madison-Grant 21.

White swept the two longest distance races, the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, for the the second year in a row and exhibited strong closing kicks in each race to pull away from Mississinewa standout Butche. He also ran on the Panthers’ winning 4×8 relay team.

“We’ve definitely done more speed work,” White said. “I’ve always had a little more kick than most people, and my coach and I have worked on it and that is one of my strengths.”

In the 1,600, White entered with the No. 1 seed (4:22) and was clocked in 4:27.57 while Butche ran 4:35.87. Although Butche had the top seed time in the 3,200 (9:30), White took command on the bell lap and pulled away to finish at 9:40.11 to Butche’s 9:49.82.

“What Connor did was fantastic,” Eastbrook coach Stu Goble said. “He ran a 2:01 split in the 4×8 and followed up with a 9:40 in the two-mile and 4:27 in the mile and that was big boy stuff. Kind of makes me look forward to what he can do when we go to (state) tournament.”

Butche finished 10th in last year’s IHSAA state cross country meet but had missed some time earlier this season with hip and back issues. Indians coach Leonard Arbogast acknowledged his standout runner’s conditioning is off.

“It’s more he’s trying to get back in race shape, but Connor had a better night, no doubt,” Arbogast said. “But we’re looking at Bloomington (IHSAA state track finals) and realizing we have to get out of the county first.”

Entering the 3,200, the next-to-last running event, Oak Hill held a slim two-point lead over Eastbrook in the team standings. Not only did White win, but Benjamin Neideck finished third to score the Panthers nine points while the Eagles received two from Dillon Mitchell’s fourth-place finish.

“I knew every point mattered a lot and that was a big drive to help out my team and get the Grant Four for the third year in a row,” White said. “I was surprised with how close (Oak Hill) was in the scoring, but they are a great team and always been a great team.”

Eastbrook now had a five-point edge and closed out the Eagles by capturing the 4×4 relay with Nathan Brainer, Isaac Brown, Graham Johnson and Ethan Keller. Johnson also had a big night for the Panthers after sweeping the 110 high and 300 low hurdles races.

Oak Hill standout Sammy Sommers appeared in command of the 110 race until he nicked the final hurdle and lost his balance, stumbling to a third-place finish. Johnson won in 15.73 seconds to improve his pre-meet time and followed by the Eagles’ Gabe Overmyer in :16.0 and Sommers in :17.19.

“The 110s was pretty crazy and a good battle between me and Sammy,” Johnson said. “At the end, he ended up clipping that hurdle and stumbling and I came across the line in first place. I’m glad he’s okay and glad to have that competition with Sammy.”

Johnson then improved one-and-a-half seconds from his top seed time in the 300 hurdles and finished at :40.96 while Sommers was second in :42.69.

“The low hurdles is my specialty race and I went out hard and some of my steps didn’t go right, but I still held on to the end and got to the 40s,” Johnson said. “I hope to break the (Central Indiana Conference) record and break the school record soon.”

Sommers wasn’t the only Eagles performer with a disappointing outcome. Tahj Johnson had a fall in the long jump and finished fifth at 20 feet, 7.5 inches – an event where he qualified for the state meet last year. Johnson did bounce back with three winning performances in the 400 in :50.37, high jump at 6-feet and 200 in :22.80.

“Tahj fell in his first even long jump and he was done, and that’s an event where he should be second on a bad day,” Eagles coach Paige Brunner said. “Then, Sammy has the 110 hurdles won and stumbles with four feet to go.

“So we had a couple events that probably hurt us,” Brunner said. “… I don’t think it was a situation where we let our guard down and didn’t compete. We just had two unfortunate events and I don’t think it was the fault of anybody … but it puts you in a bad spot – especially against a team as good as Eastbrook.”

Sommers did win the long jump in 22-9.75 and Jon Holz won the 100 in :11.31. Caiden Lake won the pole vault competition staged Wednesday evening at 10-feet even.

Brainer contributed a first for Eastbrook in the 800 in 2:03, 45, an improvement on his seed time.

“Distance races scored us a lot of points,” Goble said. “You can say Conner ran great, but Ben ran just as great so that kind of carried the way.”

Rounding out the winners was Madison-Grant’s A.J. Jones in the shot put at 47-10 and discus at 138-9.

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