PREP TRACK: Salt Fork doubles up at VVC meet

May 4—WESTVILLE — Competition is good for the soul and it's good for school pride.

That is never more evident than looking closely at the Salt Fork boys and girls track programs.

On Thursday night at Memorial Field in Westville, senior Brysen Vasquez was winning the 100, 200 and 400-meter races to lead the Storm to its six conference title in the past seven meets, while senior Macie Russell was completing a 4-for-4 career winning streak in the 800 meters as the girls claimed their fourth title in the last five meets.

So for the fourth time in conference history, Salt Fork walked away with both the boys and girls championship plaques. Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin has won both on two occasions, while Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman did it once.

"We are very competitive with the schools in our conference and our goal is always to win both titles," said Russell, who became the second female runner in conference history to win the 800 meters in four straight seasons. Hoopeston Area coach Erika (Ramos) Seidel was the first in 2006-09.

So is there a competition between the boys and girls?

"No, we support each other," she said. "It actually motivates us when we see each other doing well."

Russell admitted that she was really excited to see Vasquez win the equivalent of the sprint 'triple crown.'

And with those three wins, Vasquez became the first-ever athlete — boy or girl — to win those three events in the same conference meet.

"It could have been better," said Vasquez. "I had more left in the tank."

His coach, Phil Surprenant, could appreciate his senior's drive for more, but noted it was still a pretty special accomplishment.

"How could it not be," he said. "Doing something that has never been done before. Three PRs (personal records) for him. The 200 was a conference record, breaking one of coach's (Caine Wilson) old marks and the 400 was the oldest conference record before tonight."

The time of 49.78 seconds for Vasquez in the 400 broke the record of Travis Mitchell from Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac, who ran a hand-held time of 49.78 in the inaugural VVC meet in 2005. Using the standard conversion from hand-held to FAT (fully automated timing) Mitchell's record was 50.04 seconds.

"Actually, I'm not fully happy with my 400," Vasquez said. "I could have gotten a 48 if I would have stopped looking at the clock on the scoreboard."

His victories in the 200 and 400 were repeat performances from the 2023 VVC meet, but this year he added the 100 to gain additional points for his team.

"Last year, I ran on two relays to best help the team score points and this year, coach added the 100," Vasquez said. "Running all three individual sprints feels more rushed and it's high paced, but I like it better."

Surprenant said this has been the plan all along for Vasquez.

"We knew he was primed to run again at Sectionals," he said. "We have been working on his block starts, getting out harder. Once he get block starts better, he will be lower in times in all three races."

And, Suprenant noted the 800 relay without Vasquez still did pretty well taking third with three sophomores and a junior but it was the all-sophomore 1,600 relay team that really pleased him.

Ezra Reffett, a last-minute substitute for senior Ty Smoot, joined Xander Swanson, Cortez Phelps and Ian Church to break the school's fresh/soph record by five seconds, taking second place in the conference behind Oakwood's team of Jakob Rupp, Macen Phillips, Jacob Taflinger and Connor Smith that set a new VVC record with a time of 3:33.92.

"We really only go for team victories in meets like the county and conference," Surprenant said. "The rest of the season, we try different people in different events and work the younger kids into different events so that they can step up like they did tonight.

"Ezra Reffett didn't know he was running the 4-by-4 until just before the race. I told him to grab his stuff that he was running for Ty (Smoot) who was wore out after the 1,600. He ran a 2-second PR to give us a chance in that race. That's what this team has been doing all year, younger guys, the next guys, stepping up and taking their place where they are needed."

Two other records were also set on Thursday night. The Westville 800 relay team of Trent McMasters, Ja'Den Whorral, Garrett Hatcher and Lincoln Cravens set one with a time of 1:32.21 while Eli Kennell of Armstrong-Potomac established the league mark in the pole vault at 3.25 meters. This was the first year that the pole vault was included in the VVC meet.

One of the highlight races on Thursday night was the 300-meter hurdles race between Schlarman Academy sophomore Jarrius Atkinson and Westville senior Tyler Miller. Atkinson was fourth at last year's state meet, while Miller was sixth.

Despite hitting the second to last hurdle, Atkinson nipped Miller at the finish line. Atkinson's time was 39.70 seconds, while Miller's was 39.78.

"Honestly, I hit that hurdle because I was really tired and fatigued," Atkinson said. "I knew I just had to push through. I saw Tyler out of the corner of my eye and I knew I really needed to push."

Both athletes appreciated the head-to-head matchup.

"Running against Tyler brings out my best," said Atkinson, who also won the 110 hurdles. "We both typically PR when we race each other."

Times were not a focus for Russell in her four events on Thursday night.

The senior, who had been under the weather, was just trying to accumulate as many points as she could for her team.

"It was kind of a struggle tonight," she said. "Everything for me was about placement, no so much for time.

"I was pretty sick on Tuesday and I wasn't sure what I was going to be able to do tonight. I just kept myself hydrated and whole time, I was like 'stomach hang with me.'"

Not only did her stomach cooperate, but Russell won the 800 and 1,600 races and then anchored the Storm's 3,200 relay team to a title, while the 1,600 relay team took second. That was good enough for 38 points.

"Our distance girls really stepped up. I asked them to take one for the team and not go all out and just run for places," said Salt Fork coach Steve Trompter as Richardson, won the 3,200, placed second in the 800 and 1,600 behind Russell and was a part of the second-place 1,600 relay team. "Going 1-2 and 1-2 in the 800 and 1,600 and then 1-3 in the 3,200 is where we stacked up some points."

Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin's 400-meter relay team of Aubrey Peters, Emily Dice, Neveah Scott and Amber-Christine Reed set a conference record with a time of 51.08 seconds on Thursday night, while Haley Carlton established the pole vault record at 3.25 meters. This was the first year that the pole vault was part of the VVC meet.

PREP BOYS TRACK At Westville Vermilion Valley Conference meet

Team scores — 1. Salt Fork (SF) 120, 2. Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin (BHRA) 99.5, 3. Oakwood (Oak) 82, 4. Westville (West) 81, 5. Watseka (Wat) 40, 6. Schlarman Academy (Sch) 33, 7. Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman (GRFC) 31, 8. Armstrong-Potomac 23.5, 9. Hoopeston Area (HA) 13, 10. Iroquois West (IW) 6, 11. Milford/Cissna Park (MCP) 4.

Individual results

100 meters — 1. Brysen Vasquez (SF) 11.17, 2. Connor Smith (Oak) 11.25, 3. Trent McMasters (West) 11.38.

200 — 1. Brysen Vasquez (SF) 22.24 (VVC record), 2. Ayden Ingram (BHRA) 22.51, 3. Jerrius Atkinson (Sch) 22.93.

400 — 1. Brysen Vasquez (SF) 49.78 (VVC record), 2. Connor Smith (Oak) 51.62, 3. Ayden Ingram (BHRA) 51.62.

800 — 1. Ty Smoot (SF) 2:01.59, 2. Nathan Blue (West) 2:07.65, 3. Payton Wallace (BHRA) 2:07.99.

1,600 — 1. Thomas Wells (Oak) 4:44.36, 2. Ty Smoot (SF) 4:44.50, 3. Hagen Hoy (Wat) 5:04.82.

3,200 — 1. Aidan Morgan (GRFC) 10:59.79, 2. Owen Garrett (HA) 11:31.26, 3. Devin Stroud (BHRA) 11:58.92.

110 hurdles — 1. Jerrius Atkinson (Sch) 15.07, 2. Tyler Miller (West) 15.83, 3. James Cody (GRFC) 16.56.

300 hurdles — 1. Jerrius Atkinson (Sch) 39.70, 2. Tyler Miller (West) 39.78, 3. Ian Church (SF) 42.85.

400 relay — 1. Oakwood (Bryson McDaniel, Connor Moss, Jacob Pricer, Connor Smith) 43.78, 2. Westville 43.96, 3. Salt Fork 44.95.

800 relay — 1. Westville (Trent McMasters, Ja'Den Whorral, Garrett Hatcher, Lincoln Cravens) 1:32.21 (VVC record), 2. Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin 1:35.15, 3. Salt Fork 1:35.22.

1,600 relay — 1. Oakwood (Jakob Rupp, Macen Phillips, Jacob Taflinger, Connor Smith) 3:33.92 (VVC record), 2. Salt Fork 3:36.62, 3. Westville 3:36.64.

3,200 relay — 1. Oakwood (Jakob Rupp, Lucas Tyas, Macen Phillips, Thomas Wells) 8:36.44, 2. Salt Fork 8:46.99, 3. Westville 8:51.05.

Shot put — 1. Maddax Stine (SF) 14.29 meters, 2. Landyn Wendell (BHRA) 12.56, 3. Spencer Wall (BHRA) 12.54.

Discus — 1. Maddax Stine (SF) 41.48 meters, 2. Evan LeBelle (Wat) 40.31, 3. Spencer Wall (BHRA) 38.80.

High jump — 1. Ayden Ingram (BHRA) 1.88 meters, 2. Eli Kennel 1.83, 3. William Runyan (GRFC) 1.78.

Pole vault — 1. Eli Kennel 3.25 meters.(VVC record)

Long jump — 1. Ayden Ingram (BHRA) 6.22 meters, 2. Easton Bolin (West) 6.13, 3. Bryson McDaniel (Oak) 6.08.

Triple jump — 1. Kamdyn Keller (SF) 12.56 meters, 2. Bryson McDaniel (Oak) 12.28, 3. Jack Combes (Wat) 12.16.


PREP GIRLS TRACK At Westville Vermilion Valley Conference meet

Team scores — 1. Salt Fork (SF) 150, 2. Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin (BHRA) 114, 3. Westville (West) 67, 4. Watseka (Wat) 54, 5. Oakwood (Oak) 29, 6. Hoopeston Area (HA) 27, 7. Milford/Cissna Park (MCP) 24, 8. (tie) Armstrong-Potomac and Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman (GRFC) 23, 10. Iroquois West (IW) 22.

Individual results

100 meters — 1. Amber-Christine Reed (BHRA) 12.28, 2. Haven Meyer (Wat) 13.53, 3. Aubri Elliott (Oak) 13.57.

200 — 1. Amber-Christine Reed (BHRA) 26.82, 2. Hannah Downing (SF) 27.93, 3. Haven Meyer (Wat) 28.10.

400 — 1. Nikita Taylor (Oak) 1:02.49, 2. Natalie Thomason (BHRA) 1:02.82, 3. Zoe Moudy (SF) 1:04.84.

800 — 1. Macie Russell (SF) 2:33.72, 2. Callie Richardson (SF) 2:34.08, 3. Leah Phipps (GRFC) 2:36.59.

1,600 — 1. Macie Russell (SF) 5:57.72, 2. Callie Richardson (SF) 5:58.38, 3. Hunter Haggan (HA) 6:05.16.

3,200 — 1. Callie Richardson (SF) 12:36.22, 2. Aleah Potter (BHRA) 13:45.16, 3. Amelia Birge (SF) 13:49.26.

100 hurdles — 1. Ella Miller (West) 17.08, 2. Hannah Downing (SF) 17.55, 3. Ella Rhodes (IW) 17.90.

300 hurdles — 1. Ella Miller (West) 49.31, 2. Hannah Downing (SF) 49.61, 3. Taylor Remole (SF) 52.74.

400 relay — 1. Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin (Aubrey Peters, Emily Dice, Nevaeh Scott, Amber-Christine Reed) 51.08 (VVC record), 2. Salt Fork 51.34, 3. Watseka 53.56.

800 relay — 1. Salt Fork (Callaway Cox, Taylor, Remole, Ella Cary, Brycie Hird) 1:49.65, 2. Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin 1:51.59, 3. Milford/Cissna Park 1:53.90.

1,600 relay — 1. Westville (Maddy Doggett, Ella Miller, Emma Schluter, Gwen Bennett) 4:22.03, 2. Salt Fork 4:23.58, 3. Milford/Cissna Park 4:29.73.

3,200 relay — 1. Salt Fork (Zoe Moudy, Jordyn Colby, Hailey Walraven, Macie Russell) 11:07.85, 2. Westville 11:13.93, 3. Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin 11:45.70.

Shot put — 1. Megan Martin (Wat) 10.74 meters, 2. Lainey Wichtowski (West) 10.28, 3. Miley Pierce (SF) 9.78.

Discus — 1. Brylee Filicsky (SF) 28.81 meters, 2. Morian Pueshell (Wat) 27.75, 3. Lainey Wichtowski (West) 27.68.

High jump — 1. Ella McFarland (BHRA) 1.57 meters, 2. (tie) Natalie Thomason (BHRA) and Vivian Walsh (HA) 1.52.

Pole vault — 1. Haley Carlton (GRFC) 3.25 meters. (VVC record)

Long jump — 1. Addison Lucht (MCP) 5.38 meters (VVC record), 2. Vivien Griffin (IW) 5.19, 3. Amber-Christine Reed (BHRA) 4.96.

Triple jump — 1. Ella McFarland (BHRA) 10.72 meters, 2. Ella Miller (West) 10.18, 3. Claire Dixon (HA) 10.03.