Warsaw senior Ellis Coon (L) looks to the sky after holding off LaPorte’s Anthony Didion for first place in the 1600 at the Max Truex Invitational Friday night in Warsaw. Coon won the event in 4:23.35 and Didion was second in 4:23.94. Times-Union photo by Gary Nieter
Warsaw senior Ellis Coon (L) looks to the sky after holding off LaPorte’s Anthony Didion for first place in the 1600 at the Max Truex Invitational Friday night in Warsaw. Coon won the event in 4:23.35 and Didion was second in 4:23.94. Times-Union photo by Gary Nieter
Staying healthy was Warsaw boys track and field coach Matt Thacker’s No.1  goal at Friday’s Max Truex Invitational, but the competitiveness of his guys made that goal secondary.
Winning their third-straight Max Truex title, and 11th overall, at the Tigers Athletic Complex, the 16th-ranked Warsaw Tigers tallied 122.5 points, while Valparaiso (110) and Penn (107) were second and third, respectively.
“They don’t like to lose,” Thacker said. “That’s one of those things that’s difficult to coach. It makes your life a heck of a lot easier when you have guys that want to succeed, want to compete and want to be first.”
One of his top sprinters, Michael Miller, missed his second meet in two days while nursing an injury, but Gabe Furnivall was on the track after missing Thursday night’s three-team, Northern Lakes Conference meet at Wawasee.
Running with a swollen ankle, Furnivall anchored the third place 4x100 relay of Tanner Balazs, Tristan McClone and Storm Stapleton and also ran the third leg of the first-place 4x400 relay with Landon Perry, Chad Goon and Ryan Goon.
Also in the 4x400 relay, the last event of the night, Ryan Goon appeared to tweak his hamstring 150 meters into his anchor leg, but ran through it to get the winning time of 3:29.35.
Despite all the tweaks and ailments, Thacker was pleased with the fire he saw in his guys.
“(Furnivall) running on (the ankle) wasn’t going to make it any worse,” he said. “We’re going to get ice on it and he’s going to have the rest of the weekend to rest and Monday as well. Tuesday, we’ll get a little light workout, then he probably won’t run much on Wednesday (at Northridge). Hopefully, we’ll get Michael back for Wednesday. Ryan, we’ll take it easy with him. It looked like he may have tweaked his hamstring, but I don’t think he pulled it. He finished pretty strong. His hamstring didn’t blow up and look black and blue, which is a good sign.”
The meet is predicated on depth, as each event features two fields, with an athlete from each of the eight schools in one event. After the two fields are completed, the combined times/distances are calculated to figure out the overall placings.
In that format, Warsaw’s depth was on full display, as Storm Stapleton filled in for Miller in the sprints and earned the praise of his coach.
“He may not win best sprinter of the night, but I put him down for it,” Thacker said, referring to the Outstanding Sprinter award, which went to Penn’s Tim Deal. “He was tremendous in the 4x100 for us, he helped us in the 100 and helped us in the 200. To me, Storm’s what turned this meet in our favor. His effort in those events really kept us close with Valpo and Penn.”
Individually, Stapleton was sixth in the 100 (11.67) and fifth in the 200 (23.64), combining with Tristan McClone’s second-place finish in the 100 (11.53) and third in the 200 (23.48) to earn an overall second-place finish in each event.
One of the bigger individual matchups of the night was in the 1600, where LaPorte’s Anthony Didion and Warsaw’s Ellis Coon met.
In a race between two of the top distance runners in the state, Coon won the one-mile event in 4:23.25, followed by Didion’s 4:23.94.
The two then met in the 3200, with the favorite Didion taking first in 9:41.07, followed by Valparaiso’s Daniel Dalton (9:45.18) and Coon (9:48.56).
After missing his junior track season with a foot injury, the coaching staff has been cautious with Coon this year, but is gradually getting him more and more time on the track as the postseason looms.
“It was great to see Ellis attack it in that (1600) race and get after it,” Thacker said. “Seeing the real Ellis Coon – that was fun to watch. The same thing in the 3200. He finished strong there too. If we keep him healthy and get him down to the state meet, there’s no telling what he can do.”
A couple other Tigers primed for deep postseason runs are Seth Fouts and Stephen Kolbe, who each posted first-place finishes.
Fouts, the Outstanding Field Events winner, won the shot put (59-7.25) and Kolbe’s clearance of 6-4 won at high jump.

Team Scores – 1. Warsaw 122.5, 2. Valparaiso 110, 3. Penn 107, 4. LaPorte 71, 5. Hobart 65, 6. Fairfield 56.5, 7. F.W. North Side 46, 8. F.W. Wayne 22.
(Winners, Warsaw Results)
4x800 Relay – 1. Valparaiso (3. 8:12.45, 4. 8:34.54), 3. Warsaw (2. Ismael Calderon, Nicker Bergen, Daniel Messenger, Tyler Houvener 8:11.64, 8. Chris Hastings, Nick Adams, Jacob Deboest, Avery Torres 9:01.99); 110 Hurdles – 1. Penn (1. Tim Deal 15.39, 5. Max Weaver 16.50), 3. Warsaw (4. Caleb Klusman 16.36, 6. Dylan Campbell 16.58); 100 – 1. Valparaiso (1. Joe Carbello 11.50, 4. Liam McGrath 11.63), 2. Warsaw (2. Tristan McClone 11.53, 6. Storm Stapleton 11.67); 1600 – 1. LaPorte (2. Anthony Didion 4:23.94, 6. Sam Miller 4:39.03), 2. Warsaw (1. Ellis Coon 4:23.35, 9. Nick Bergen 4:43.59); 4x100 Relay – 1. Warsaw (2. Tanner Balazs, Tristan McClone, Storm Stapleton, Gabe Furnivall 44.25, 4. Ross Armey, Lucas Cone, Chad Goon, Steven Reinholt 44.59); 400 – 1. Penn (1. Zach Oakley 49.30, 10. Luke Kleppe 54.18), 3. Warsaw (6. Landon Perry 52.49, 7. Ryan Goon 52.61); 300 Hurdles – 1. Valparaiso (1. Michael Rastovic 40.38, 3. Joe Carbello 41.39), 2. Warsaw (4. Dylan Campbell 42.19, 5. Ross Armey 42.47).
800 – 1. Valparaiso (2. Corey Alfredson 2:01.85, 5. Ethan McChristian 2:04.17), 2. Warsaw (3. Ismael Calderon 2:02.99, 4. Tyler Houvener 2:03.85); 200 – 1. Penn (1. Jimmy Colvin 23.20, 4. Greg Higgins 23.60), 2. Warsaw (3. Tristan McClone 23.48, 5. Storm Stapleton 23.64); 3200 – 1. Valparaiso (2. Daniel Dalton 9:45.18, 4. Andrew Jankowski 9:53.17), 3. Warsaw (3. Ellis Coon 9:48.56, 9. Owen Glogovsky 10:17.35); 4x400 Relay – 1. Warsaw (1. Landon Perry, Chad Goon, Gabe Furnivall, Ryan Goon 3:29.35, 4. Tyler Houvener, D’Andre Street, Riley Rhoades, Tristan McClone 3:34.21); High Jump – 1. Warsaw (1. Stephen Kolbe 6-4, 3. Brock Riley 6-0); Pole Vault – 1. Penn (2. Peter Loughran 13-0, 5. Quinton Cooling 12-0), 4. Warsaw (7. Jake Fayed 11-6, 12. Steven Reinholt 9-0); Long Jump – 1. Penn (1. Tim Deal 21-3, 2. Sabin Gorsett 21-0), 3. Warsaw (4. Rashaan Jackson 19-6.5, 6. Caleb Ray 18-1.75); Discus – 1. Hobart (1. Ernie Ray 159-2, 6. Nathaniel Wilfong 126-4), 2. Warsaw (4. Andrew Scheidt 129-9, 5. Seth Fouts 128-7); Shot Put – 1. Warsaw (1. Seth Fouts 59-7.25, 4. Ben Plummer 47-2.5.
Outstanding Sprinter – Tim Deal (Penn).
Outstanding Distance – Anthony Didion (LaPorte).
Outstanding Field Events – Seth Fouts (Warsaw).