By CHUCK LANDIS – email@example.com
MIER — Have a (record-setting) day, Sammy Sommers and Margo Hornocker.
The Oak Hill track and field standouts earned male and female most valuable athlete honors Saturday afternoon in the 68th Oak Hill Relays and lifted the Golden Eagles to first place in the eight-team meet.
Oak Hill had five first-place performances and finished with 142 points to withstand a challenge from Bellmont, which had 120.
Among his many accomplishments, Sommers set the school record in the long jump at 22 feet, 51/2 inches and topple Marvin Boswell’s 40-year-old mark. Hornocker came back after setting a new 1,600-meter record Friday evening at the Franklin Central Showcase to win the 3,200 and anchor winning middle distance and 4×100 relays.
“It was a great day for (Sommers) and he was not a surprise as the MVP,” Oak Hill coach Paige Brunner said. “Margo was a little bit, but I think it was for the body of work she had over the weekend.”
Sommers’ long jump record where he went more than 11/2 feet further than his previous best grabbed all the attention. But the sophomore also won the 200 and ran on the winning sprint medley, and shuttle hurdle and 4×100 underclassmen relay teams.
Boswell set the previous long jump record of 21-111/2 back in 1977, and Sommers admitted there was a bit of tail wind that could have aided his jump. Sommers’ previous best was 20-111/2 in the season-opening meet against Maconaquah.
“It was a great night and I’m happy to come out and compete and do what I love,” Sommers said. “Having long jump and triple jump as my two main (AAU) events and long jump in high school, I always wanted to get that record. But it’s been a long process to get up here and actually compete and break the record.”
While Sommers has competed at the national level since age 10, the Oak Hill Relays was his first truly dominant high school performance. Brunner said Sommers has matured physically and become stronger since his freshman season and it has made a big difference.
“He’s definitely hit the ground running – or jumping – that’s for sure,” Brunner said. “He’s taken the next step … and he’s a very confident individual right now.
“We were only going to run him in four events and he came up to us and said he’d like to do four, and we bumped him up to all four and he won all four,” Brunner added. “The long jump stands out, but he’s dropped two to two-and-a-half seconds in the hurdles this year and fills voids in the sprints.”
Hornocker has been an accomplished distance runner for the Eagles and made back-to-back trips to the IHSAA state cross country finals the past two years. The junior stepped up her training this winter and her added strength and endurance allowed her to come back and compete in three events Saturday after running against many of the state’s elite milers Friday evening.
At the Franklin Central Showcase, Hornocker’s adjusted time of 5:09.6 for the 1,600 bettered Shallen Lenhart’s old record of 5:13 set in 2013. In the Oak Hill relays, Hornocker won the girls’ 3,200 with a time of 11:51.67.
“Thankfully, I didn’t have to do all my events 100 percent all out,” Hornocker said. “There were a couple where I went harder and my legs felt a little tired. But early this morning I felt alright and wasn’t worried about it.”
“I started training earlier and having that added endurance helps me do more events and I feel like I’m in a lot better shape now than I was at this time last year, which helps,” Hornocker added.
Brunner said Sommers and Hornocker have put in the work to have outstanding track seasons that could even lead to the state finals. Sommers’ record long jump would have put him in second place in last year’s Marion Regional behind D’Wayne Eskridge, who has since graduated. Hornocker’s record time was within two seconds last year’s fourth place Marion Regional finisher.
“What we’re talking about with Sammy and Margo are two kids who are different than they were last year, and not only they physically stronger but their confidence is higher,” Brunner said.
Sommers’ performance overshadowed another strong long jump performance from freshman Tahj Johnson, who finished second at 21-7. Johnson’s previous best was 18-5 and he was entered only after Alex Small had a practice mishap earlier this week and was unable to compete.
“With D’Wayne Eskridge now gone … me and Tahj have a good chance at going to regionals and maybe a shot at going to state,” Sommers said.
Eagles sprinter Jon Holz also stood out and the sophomore won the 100 in 11.75 seconds and anchored the sprint medley and 4×100 underclassmen relay teams to victories. Holz nosed out a LaVille runner at the finish line by three-tenths second in the 4×100 underclassmen relay.
Olivia Garza was the overall girls’ winner in the 300 hurdles and helped the shuttle relay to victory and the upperclassmen 4×100 team finish second.
The Oak Hill Relays combined boys and girls and employs a different scoring setup from most meets. Outcomes were determined by the total time or distance from each team.