The 4×100-meter relay is a race which demands four fast runners and three precision handoffs to have any kind of success.
For that reason, track and field coaches typically don’t tinker with the order once the season begins. Practice and repetition with those handoffs are essential.
But with one meet left in the regular season, Columbus North coach Lou Sipe decided to switch things up. He moved junior anchor Mitchell Burton to the second spot, senior Alex Algee from second to leadoff and put sophomore Cortez Bandy at anchor.
“We’ve had a few different lineups this year, just seeing what worked, and obviously managing different kids in different events,” Sipe said. “We tried different things out, and obviously have had some success with this lineup.”
The move paid off. Last week, the quartet — with sophomore Jaylen Flemmons running the third leg — turned in a season-best 43.20-second clocking to finish third in the Franklin Regional and qualify for Saturday’s state finals at Indiana University’s Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex.
Junior Harley Huser also was on the 4×100 at times this season, running in the first and third spots. Bandy also ran in the first and third spots before moving to anchor.
“Cortez says he has bad eyesight, so when he tried to hand off to me, he couldn’t see my hand very well,” Burton said. “So they switched him to fourth leg, and they thought they’d keep me on a straightaway, so that’s why they moved me to second. I’d never handed off to anybody this year, so it’s kind of fun doing something different.”
Burton is the fastest of the quartet. He missed qualifying for state in the 100 by two thousandths of a second.
Burton and Algee qualified for state in the long jump. Burton, who also qualified for regional in the 200, is a two-time regional champion in the long jump.
“We have some really talented kids, so I thought they had a chance,” Sipe said. “We were just trying to play with the lineup to get our best four out there. It’s worked out well. The kids do a really good job.”
The Bull Dogs thought they had a chance to qualify for state in the 4×100 last year, but they dropped the baton in the sectional. Burton is the only returner from that unit.
This year, North is seeded 21st out of the 27 entrants in the 4×100 for Saturday’s state finals. If they keep dropping time like they have been, the school record of 43.02 is within reach.
“(Getting to state has) been a very big goal of ours,” Algee said. “We just strive every day to get the fastest time in every meet. The state meet is a really big accomplishment for us, and I know all the guys are really excited for it.”
Boys Track and Field State Finals
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex, Indiana University
Long jump: Mitchell Burton, Columbus North, and Alex Algee, Columbus North
Shot put and discus: Rhett Myers, Columbus East
4×800 relay: Brown County
110 hurdles: Triston Perry, Columbus North
1,600: Cole Chudy, Brown County
4×100 relay: Columbus North
300 hurdles: Bryce Ables, Columbus North
800: Chandler Steward, Columbus North
200: Steven O’Neal, Columbus East