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MENDOTA — The Storm weren’t going to let a little wind ruin their chance for redemption.
After falling two points short of team title at last year’s Don Gooden Invitational, the Bureau Valley boys track and field team battled past a 14-team field and whipping winds that reached in excess of 25 miles per hour to claim the Gooden Invite team championship Saturday.
“Coming from last year where we lost by two points, it’s a great feeling. I wanted to get that victory,” BV senior Logan Hoffert said.
Hoffert had a big part in the Storm win.
He teamed up with Kristian and Will Konneck and Daniel Trone to take first in the 400-meter relay with a time of 47.13, and helped the Storm close out the meet with a strong third leg of the 1,600 relay behind Ryan Taylor and Tucker Schoff that allowed the anchor Trone to take the final baton pass in front of the field en route to a time of 3:39.36.
He also added second-place finishes in the 300 hurdles (43.02) and triple jump (41-2), where he set a new personal best.
Hoffert — a state qualifier in the hurdles last year — said the northerly wind, which blasted runners with gale-force gusts when they made the final turn was a “big hurdle” to overcome.
“This whole (last) stretch was the worst part. You just had to dig deep and fight through it,” Hoffert said.
Trone said the BV relay squads talked before the meet about handoff issues that have plagued them in the past at Mendota.
“It just seems like this place is infamous for us,” said Trone, who added that the win was a statement from this year’s Storm. “A lot of people say our track team isn’t a big challenger anymore. But we’re coming out to show them that we might have lost a couple good players who graduated, but we still have got a lot of team coming back.”
The Storm also had a win from Conor Mooney in the 110 hurdles (18.38) and claimed the 3,200 relay as well with a team of Kane Eastwood, Colton Peterson, Taylor and Andrew Smith in a time of 9:02.28.
The well-rounded showing helped BV top second-place Byron 103-88.6, while Sandwich was a close third at 86 points.
Locally, Mendota was fifth at 61, Princeton sixth at 46, St. Bede was ninth at 41, Hall was 10th with 38, Amboy-LaMoille was 11th at 27 and Fieldcrest finished 12th at 21.
Landon Piccatto led the charge for the Red Devils.
The senior standout bested the field with a top hop, skip and jump of 41 feet, 4 ½ inches in the triple jump and took second in the long jump at 19-5 — two inches behind winner Christian Johnsen of Hinckley-Big Rock. Piccatto also was third in the 300 hurdles (43.05).
Piccatto said the wind was a dual-edged sword, helping the jumps a little bit while a being major hindrance on the track.
“My long jump was almost a PR (personal record) and I didn’t even hit the board. The triple jump was a PR for this year — I’m hoping I can improve on that before sectionals,” Piccatto said.
St. Bede senior Steven Gualandri was the Bruins’ lone event winner as he edged past Piccatto and Hoffert in the 300 hurdles.
Gualandri said the key to the strong race was “getting low and not making yourself such a big target” for the wind.
“You’ve just got to keep pushing — pushing yourself a little bit harder than usual,” Gualandri said, adding that the ultra-competitive hurdling trio would be squaring off again at sectionals.
Mendota sophomore speedster Wyatt Martinson — who recently set the MHS school record with a time of 10.76 in the 100 — was well off his record setting pace with the weather, but still turned in a first-place finish in the event with a time of 12.13.
Martinson did not run in the 200 as he was scratched due to a minor hip injury in what coach Brock Sondgeroth labeled a “precautionary” move to avoid worsening the condition.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6695 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.
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