Oh, so close

Going into the final event of Saturday’s Columbus North Invitational, the host Bull Dogs had a one-point lead against Center Grove in the boys meet.

Unfortunately for North, it wasn’t quite able to hang on. Trent Larson gave the Bull Dogs the lead after the first leg of the 4×400-meter relay, but Center Grove rallied to win in 3 minutes, 23.72 seconds to North’s 3:25.34, the fastest two times in the state this year.

The finish allowed the ninth-ranked Trojans to pull out a 151½-150½ victory against the Bull Dogs for the team title. No. 4 Bloomington North finished third with 117, and Columbus East was fourth with 89.

“That last 100 meters, I tried to give it my all,” North anchor Michael Behling said. “The Bloomington North kid was on my hind. I made sure to keep him off, but I wasn’t going to be able to catch up to the Center Grove guy.”

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Earlier in the day, Behling won the 110 hurdles in 15.25 and the 300 hurdles in 39.15. The 300 hurdle time broke his own school record that he set Tuesday at Bloomington South.

“I’m really proud of myself and of our coaching staff,” Behling said.

“They pushed me this whole week to prepare for this meet and also to break the school record. Breaking the school record again, that’s something I plan to do continuously to hopefully get that down to a much lower time so it can stay on the board a little bit longer.”

North’s Trent Larson, a senior running high school track for the first time, ran the state’s second-fastest time in winning the 400 in 50.54, while Chase Ballard in the 1,600 (4:24.65) and Joe Wright in the 800 (1:59.24) ran the state’s fourth-fastest times. Alex Algee won the long jump with a leap of 21-3¼.

When the Bull Dogs see Center Grove again in the North Sectional, they will likely have 3,200 state qualifier Seth Williams, who has missed the first part of the season with an injury, and defending Conference Indiana discus champion Ezra Followell, who was on a college visit Saturday.

“Obviously, having those guys would be great,” North coach Lou Sipe said. “They help our team significantly. When we get them back, that will help.”

The Olympians got a win from Josiah Edwards in the high jump (5-10). Aaron Kruchten finished second in the shot put (47-7½), and Rhett Myers took second in the discus (151-11).

“The kids for the most part came out and competed,” East boys coach David Miller said. “It was good to see how we do against a lot of the high-ranking guys in the state.

Meanwhile, No. 6 Center Grove cruised to victory in the girls meet with 174 points. Columbus North edged Bloomington North 144-143 for second, and East edged Terre Haute South 69-66 for fourth.

Katrina May won the pole vault (11-0), Debie Gedeon took the 100 hurdles (15.04) and Rachel Brougher captured the 1,600 (5:18.15) for the Bull Dogs. The performances by May and Brougher were the eighth-best in the state this year, and Gedeon’s mark was just off her state-leading time.

Also for Columbus North, Arig Tong, Morgan Neal, Sierra Lax and Nina Bouthier won the 4×800 relay (9:57.98).

“We had a lot of great competition today,” Sipe said. “Center Grove and Bloomington North are really good programs. The kids did great, so we can’t complain. We have some work to do, but I was very excited about our performances today.”

Katie Mack finished second in the 400 (1:04.16) and fourth in the high jump (5-0), and Cortney VanLiew took third in the 200 (27.64) to lead the Olympians.

“We came and competed pretty well,” East girls coach Glen Brown said. “We have to keep working and getting lower (times), but the effort was there. I’m really pleased with our 200 times with Cortney VanLiew and our 100 with Kayla Gastineau. This is good competition here, and we had some nerves, but I think the girls overall performed pretty well.”