Wawasee junior Clayton Cook clears a hurdle during the prelims of the 110 hurdles at Saturday's IHSAA boys track and field state finals in Bloomington. Times-Union photo by Anthony Gadson
Wawasee junior Clayton Cook clears a hurdle during the prelims of the 110 hurdles at Saturday's IHSAA boys track and field state finals in Bloomington. Times-Union photo by Anthony Gadson

BLOOMINGTON - There weren't any local champions, but there were plenty of pleased competitors at Saturday's 111th annual IHSAA boys track and field state finals at Indiana University in Bloomington.
While Gary West Side was winning its first state title since 1980 with 41 points, the Warsaw Tigers had 10 points, and three trips to the podium, and Wawasee had junior Clayton Cook score its five points with a fifth-place finish in the 110 hurdles.
Of all the local competitors, Warsaw senior Ellis Coon had the highest placing at the meet, finishing third in the 1600 with a time of 4:15.00.
After reaching the podium with a ninth-place finish in the 1600 at the 2012 state finals, Coon was forced to miss all of last season with a foot injury.
Back this season, Coon was the Northern Lakes Conference champion in the 1600 and 3200, then won both events at the Goshen Sectional, before finishing second to Kokomo senior Jeremy Breedlove at the South Bend St. Joseph Regional.
At state, Coon clipped Breedlove by 79-hundredths of a second, while Lawrence North senior Joe Murphy won in 4:11.05, followed by LaPorte senior Anthony Didion (4:14.63).
After receiving his medal, Coon was all smiles and commented that his only regret was that he wouldn't be able to don Warsaw's all-white uniforms again.
"I was out here, just enjoying it," he said. "I felt kind of sad, because this is the last time we get to wear these jerseys, and I feel like these are the nicest jersies we've ever gotten. I'm kind of sad about that."
Uniforms aside, Coon also commented that the race probably wasn't his smartest, as he struggled to get out of a pack, opting to go outside a lot more than he would have liked.
"In about every straightaway, I kind of lost focus and it was stupid," the Tulsa University-bound runner said. "Every single straightaway, I noticed there were seven or eight people in front of me, who I didn't want to have in front of me. So I had to go out in the third or fourth lane to go up in front. I don't know what happened, but every single corner, every time I came off a curve, it seemed like the same thing. It was stupid racing on my part, but I felt good. I'm happy with where I ended up. I feel like I closed the strongest out of everyone there."
The second-highest local placing came from Cook, who was seeded 20th in the 110 hurdles, but placed fifth in 14.57.
"I was looking at the board just thinking, 'Don't get last.'," he said about his thought process after finishing the finals. "When I saw fifth, I was like, 'Yes!' It was pretty exciting. I don't think it's really sunk in, with the being fifth in the whole state thing."
In a bit of controversy, Cook almost had the opportunity taken away.
To determine the nine finalists in the event, three preliminary heats are run, with the top two finishers in each heat moving on to the finals, with the next three fastest times advancing as well.
The second heat was won by Center Grove senior Justin Veteto in 14.41, followed by Cook in 14.65.
However, well after the event was run, it was determined that an official's error would force the heat to be re-run.
"I was happy, because my goal today was to medal, and ninth place medals," Cook said. "So I already had my goal, but then they called us back up. I'm almost freaking out, because, what if I get up there and fall (over a hurdle) in my race or something?"
After lining back up a the start line, Veteto and Cook were informed they wouldn't need to re-run the race, as they had been the top two finishers in the initial race.
"I think I would have run similar, but there was a kid in the second running that got a faster time than I did," Cook said.
Getting a second chance in the prelims, Crown Point junior Troy Grady did run the event in 14.55, but with his 14.65, Cook would have advanced to the finals based on time anyway.
Warsaw's second visit to the state podium came after its senior-laden 4x100 relay of Tanner Balazs, Tristan McClone, Gabe Furnivall and Mike Miller improved its ninth seed with an eight-place finish, running the event in 42.66.
"We would have liked to have finished a little higher, but we're super happy about getting on the podium," McClone said. "We're all-state. That's phenomenal."
The foursome would have liked to have set a new school record, but even without out that, the day was deemed a total success.
"We just did exactly what we wanted to do," Miller said. "It couldn't have gone any better for us, really. We just wanted to be on the podium. We would have like to have broken the school record, but it went well."
The race came a day after each of the guys walked through their graduation, which stirred up some emotions for McClone.
"This is an emotional day," he said. "This is the last thing that I'll ever be associated with the high school for, and graduating last night, it's a big (24 hours). I'm excited to move on, but I'm really happy it went this way."
On top of setting Warsaw varsity football records with 322 rushing yards in a game, 1,718 rushing yards in a season and accumulating 3,340 total rushing yards and 34 touchdowns in just over two seasons, the all-state finish in his final event in a Warsaw uniform seemed fitting.
McClone had run track all four years he was in high school, and in his final year, he was able to get his friends Miller and Balazs to try out.
And after receiving their medals, the recruitment of the two seemed to be a good one.
"It was worth it," McClone said. "It was worth all the harping, all the begging."
Miller and McClone had also qualified in the 100 at state, but failed to reach the finals, as Miller had the 12th-fastest time (11.10) in the prelims and McClone was 28th (11.32).
Running the third leg of the 4x100 relay, Furnivall didn't have much time to celebrate, as he had to get ready in the second heat of the 400 finals, which is run right after the relay.
Getting right back on the track, Furnivall finished 16th in 50.17, looking visibly drained meters from the finish line.
"It was pretty tough because of the heat and coming right off the 4x1," Furnivall said. "It was just tough."
And even then, Furnivall wasn't done, as he had to get ready to anchor the 4x400 relay, the last event of the night. However, he was afforded some time off with three events taking place between the 400 and 4x400 relay.
Regaining some strength, Furnivall was able to anchor the 4x400 relay of sophomore Landan Perry and twin seniors Chad Goon and Ryan Goon to a ninth-place finish (3:21.01), closing the day out with an all-state performance.
"My goal was to win a medal in all three events, but came within a 10th-of-a-second in an extremely high-powered field in the 400," Furnivall said. "I'm content with my placings."
And the Goon brothers were as well.
"We just wanted to give it our all," Ryan Goon said. "We wanted to go out and leave no regrets."
"It's a good group of guys to go out with," Chad Goon added.
Also from the area, Warsaw's 4x800 relay of senior Ismael Calderon, junior Nicholas Bergen, junior Daniel Messenger and senior Taylor Houvener were 16th (8:02.47) after being seeded 19th.
At high jump, Wawasee junior J.J. Gilmer was 12th (6-4) and Warsaw senior Stephen Kolbe placed 25th (6-2).

Team Scores (Top 10) - 1. Gary West Side 41, 2. Carmel 39, 3. (tie) Avon 29, Center Grove 29, 5. Hamilton Southeastern 28, 6. Warren Central 24, 7. Ben Davis 23.75, 8. Lawrence North 20, 9. Brownsburg 18, 10. Bloomington South 17, 23. Warsaw 10, 48. Wawasee 5.
(Winners, Local Results)
4x800 Relay - 1. Chesterton (Tyler Vore, Billy Biehl, Marlon Williams, Kevin Kenney) 7:44.87, 16. Warsaw (Ismael Calderon, Nicholas Bergen, Daniel Messenger, Tyler Houvener) 8:02.47; 100 - 1. Austin Roberts (Carmel) 10.83, 12. Mike Miller (Warsaw) 11.10, 28. Tristan McClone (Warsaw) 11.32; 110 Hurdles - 1. Jacob Wright (Hamilton SE) 14.09, 5. Clayton Cook (Wawasee) 14.57; 200 - 1. Isaiah Thomas (Warren Central) 21.68; 1600 - 1. Joe Murphy (Lawrence North) 4:11.05, 3. Ellis Coon (Warsaw) 4:15.00; 4x100 Relay - 1. Gary West (Barry Wesby, Carlton Sims, Lonnie Johnson, Jonvae Johnson) 41.32, 8. Warsaw (Tanner Balazs, Tristan McClone, Gabe Furnivall, Mike Miller) 42.66; 400 - 1. Stoney Prowell (Marshall) 48.40, 16. Gabe Furnivall (Warsaw) 50.17; 300 Hurdles - 1. Justin Veteto (Center Grove) 36.85.
800 - 1. Daniel Kuhn (Shelbyville) 1:50.91; 3200 - 1. Clayton Bowie (Southport) 9:06.63; 4x400 Relay - 1. Brownsburg (Brandon Britton, Tyler Kirtz, Nassif Kouton, Hari Sathyamurthy) 3:18.51, 9. Warsaw (Landan Perry, Chad Goon, Ryan Goon, Gabe Furnivall) 3:21.01; Discus - 1. Gelen Robinson (Lake Central) 197-7; Shot Put - 1. Angelo Allen (Avon) 60-6; Long Jump - 1. Lonnie Johnson (Gary West) 23-6; High Jump - 1. Javen Reeves (New Albany) 6-9, 12. J.J. Gilmer (Wawasee) 6-4, 25. Stephen Kolbe (Warsaw) 6-2; Pole Vault - 1. Deakin Volz (Bloomington South) 17-0.5*
* - State Record