Suprise And No Surprise: East hurdler, North distance runners qualify for state finals

GREENFIELD — Will Russell, Mateo Mendez and the Columbus North 4×800-meter relay team were expected to qualify for the Boys Track and Field State Finals.

Henrique Carvalho was not.

But Carvalho, the Columbus East senior who was seeded sixth in the 300 hurdles, came through with a shocking second-place finish in 40.20 seconds in Thursday’s Greenfield-Central Regional. The top three in each event advance to the June 2 state finals.

“I just trusted in the Lord to get through it and put my faith in God, and He carried me through it,” Carvalho said. “He gave me the strength, and I put in the time and the work to get faster.”

North’s qualifiers, on the other hand, were no surprise. Russell, Akot Tong, Adler Larson and Mendez opened the meet by cruising to victory in the the 4×800 relay in 7:51.66.

“That’s one goal we’ve had all season — to qualify in the 4×800 to state,” Russell said. “Tonight, we were able to do it.

Russell came back and won the 3,200 in 9:21.64. Russell, who made it to state in the 3,200 last season, sat on the shoulder of Center Grove’s Parker Mimbela for a little more than seven laps before taking control on the final lap.

“The one thing I lacked last year was just having enough physical races,” Russell said. “Today was very physical, and I was able to deal with it. Parker is a heck of an athlete, and he is able to have a pretty stellar kick, so I wanted to make sure I wait until a good time. I wanted to be smart in that race.”

Mendez finished second in the 800 in 1:56.69.

“I got boxed in last year (at regional) and finished sixth, and this year, it felt amazing to know that I can run a good race after that 4×800,” Mendez said. “I’m excited for state now in both the 4×800 and the 800.”

The Bull Dogs had three near-misses with fourth-place finishes from Liam Phillips in the pole vault (13 feet, 4 inches), Liam Milne in the 110 hurdles (15.23) and Neal White in the 3,200 (9:29.89). Tong took fifth in the 800 (2:00.43), and Ben Stevens, Foster Long, Derek Arau-Ortiz and Mendez were fifth in the 4×400 relay (3:30.89).

Also for North, Owen Russell finished eighth in the 110 hurdles (15.98) and 15th in the 300 hurdles (43.71). Larson took ninth in the 1,600 (4:34.96), Andrew McLean was 15th in the discus (125-8) and Jason Knapp finished 16th in the high jump (5-8).

The Bull Dogs finished fifth overall as a team. Center Grove won with 122 points to 98 for Warren Central, 78 for Greenfield-Central, 52 for Franklin Central and 52 for North.

Besides Carvalho, East had two other athletes compete in the regional. Jacob Guse finished 11th in the discus (136-2), and Ethan Duncan took 14th in the 400 (52.57).

Hauser had two athletes competing. Cameron Toole finished 13th in the 400 (52.52), and Lakota Robbins was 14th in the long jump (19-5 1/2).

South Decatur’s McKinley Shook placed sixth in the 300 hurdles (41.34). Owen Arreola finished 15th in the long jump (19-3 1/4), Lucas Ballard took 15th in the 100 (11.96) and the Cougars were 13th in the 4×100 relay (45.50).