Jasper runners set records at invitational

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Jasper's Raife Milligan jumps a hurdle during the Dubois-Pike Invitational at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium in Jasper on Thursday. For more photos from the meet, click here.


JASPER — It was a recording-setting kind of affair Thursday evening, when a pair of Jasper runners set new meet records during the Dubois-Pike Invitational.

Wildcats senior distance runners Will Smith and Alyssa Skorge both set new meet records in the 800 meter run, as the Jasper boys and girls track teams took first overall at the invitational with 186 and 128 points, respectively. Smith and Skorge each also had multiple first-place finishes during the event.

“Started off focusing on just trying to hit my times,” said Smith, who set the new 800 mark at 1:58.62. Dustin Betz of Northeast Dubois set the previous record at 2:02.16 in 2006. “When we took off, I hit it pretty hard, hit all my times I wanted in the first lap. When I got to that last 200 [meters], I could feel the full force of Mother Nature trying to push on me. Last 100, barely picked up my legs. Heard my coaches and my friends and family yelling at me, just tried to power through.”

Smith also ran on the top-finishing 4x400 (3:39.52) and 4x800 (9:03.61) meter relay teams.

Skorge set the new girls record in the 800 meters with a time of 2:22.87, topping the previous mark of Forest Park’s Brittney Knies, who ran a 2:24.09 back in 2005.

“It was exciting because I’ve been here for four years,” she said. “I knew the ropes, so it fun to execute what I’ve learned throughout the four years here.” Skorge also took first overall individually in the 1600 meter run (5:35.10), as well as ran in the first place 4x400 (4:26.90) and 4x800 (10:39.12) meter relay teams.

Wildcats coaches Kevin Schipp and Dean Jerger were very pleased with how the Jasper boys and girls teams looked during Thursday’s gathering at Alumni Stadium. Both coaches said they like to use large meets like the invitational to see how their teams react and stack up against bigger pools of competition outside of the the typical one- or two-team meets.

“So far, I’ve been really impressed with how they’ve come out and competed,” Schipp said. “We’ve shown depth in all the events. A meet like this, it’s not sectional, but it gets you ready for something like that. The kids get up for it, we’ve done a good job of stepping up.”

“I put a lot of challenges and demands on a handful of kids, trying to see how we would handle the big meet,” Jerger added. “We had a lot of good improvement, we’re mixing girls around at different events. The kids are accepting whatever challenge we might throw at them.”

Southridge took second overall at the invitational, with the boys scoring 89 points and girls posting 114. The boys took top honors in a couple of the field events, as senior thrower Jaden Hayes took first place in discus (159’5”) and junior leaper Garrett Voegerl took the top spot in the high jump (6’) and long jump (19’10”). The girls had a solid showing in the sprinting events events, as junior speedster Alexis Brady finished No. 1 in the 100 meter dash (13.38), while fellow junior sprinter Anna Altstadt took top honors in the 200 (28.21) and 400 meter dash  (1:02.68). Junior Grace Sickbert took the 100 meter (17.66) and 300 meter (49.25) hurdles like a champ and ran the lead leg for the first-place 4x100 meter relay team, which posted a time of 51.83 seconds. Sickbert also finished first in the long jump with a 16 foot, 4 inch leap.

Southridge's Cheyanne Motteler and Forest Parks' Sara Kitten run side by side during the 4 by 800 relay event at the Dubois-Pike Invitational at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium in Jasper on Thursday. For more photos from the meet, click here.

“I was so excited, it felt so good,” said Sickbert, who finished with new personal records in the 300 hurdles and long jump. “I was just working hard all week, so it felt good to come here and do that.”

Raiders coach Ted O’Brien figured Jasper would be the team’s stiffest competition coming into the meet, but there were bright spots all throughout the event, and he thought the team left the field in a good place to move forward with their season.

“We’ve had a pretty good night,” O’Brien said. “This is just a great meet to get a measuring stick of where we are. Things could have gone better in some spots, but we also had some really good highlights, too. We scratched out some points in some of the running events, pretty solid on the relays. All in all, it was a really good night.”

The Forest Park boys and girls teams finished third and fourth with 40 and 38 points, respectively, during Thursday’s event. Boys coach Philip Wolf rated the meet as kind of a mixed bag in terms of expectations and results, but he would like to see his athletes go out and perform with a higher level of assurance, which he believes will produce more consistent results during meets.

“We still lack a lot of confidence in what we can do as individuals, and we’re going to keep working on it,” he said. “We haven’t hit the meat and potatoes of our workout plan, so these next two to three weeks are going to build us for the postseason.”

Rangers girls coach Kacie Klem admitted the girls team looked to finish a bit higher on the final score cards, but she loved the way they competed and thinks that once the team reaches full strength, they will be able to recover some points that were left on the track.

“What I wanted from these girls is for them to come out and compete to the best of their ability, and they did that,” Klem added. “There’s definitely room to grow. As our distance girls continue to heal, we’re going to continue to see some points coming in that way, and I think that’s going to be encouraging for the girls to see.”

Northeast Dubois' Sabrina Dunning, right, talks to her boyfriend, Trenton Harrison, in between events at the Dubois-Pike Invitational at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium in Jasper on Thursday. For more photos from the meet, click here.

Both the girls and boys teams for Northeast Dubois finished with 26 and 8 points, respectively. Jeeps coach Leslie Denu used the meet to focus on getting individuals better at their specific events, since she knows it’s hard for the Jeeps to score as a team due to their small numbers. To that end, she looks forward to her athletes getting stronger over the course of the season, and being able to handle the workload of competing in multiple events when it comes to huge competitions such as conference and sectional meets.

“We just talked about each individual working on their personal best and beating their personal record from the last meet,” she said. “We know we’re a small team compared to everyone else, so we want to do the little accomplishments and celebrate them along the way.”

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