John Curtis Daily Union Sports Editor
Shelbyville Daily Union
---- — The Shelbyville Ram boys track team competed at SIU Indoor Invitational Saturday and they logged some Top Ten performances, to this point, and also put their potential on display.
"The meet is mainly Class 2A and 3A schools from Illinois and Kentucky," said Ram coach Kevin Kramer. "However, it did give the 1A Rams a chance to see one of their biggest rivals in 2A Monticello, who were also at the invite. We were one of the smallest schools at the meet, but I love the competition," said Ram coach Kevin Kramer. "Competition breeds success".
"That is one of the reasons that I am sorry to see us leave the Okaw Valley Conference." Monticello had a great team at the meet Saturday and we have often been beaten by the Sages. However, we also have our fair share of victories against them.
"One thing is for certain, the competition between us and Monticello at the conference meet has made us both better through the years. Unfortunately, that will come to an end after this year. I can really think of only one or two sports at Shelbyville that our conference move benefits. But, we will adjust. That's what winning teams do."
Shelbyville got a good workout in the early season event, despite having a difficult time trying to prepare for the start of the season.
"For what little time we have had in practice with the weather this winter, I thought we did a great job," said Coach Kramer. "Several of the guys are no where near in shape yet. So, the potential is there to have a pretty good team. It us up to them to work hard and achieve it."
Big Mikel Welton got the Rams off to a fast start in the SIU meet in the Shot Put, as he had a heave of 44'11.5 to place 8th out of 72 throwers. Mikel's throw puts him #12 on the state indoor top times list. Bart Kennell threw a personal best of 42'7" to capture 17th place.
"Bart has a lot of potential," said Coach Kramer. "It is just tough to find time for him to practice. He is a dual sport athlete and is not benefiting from much practice time. Bart could be a really good thrower, but I am afraid he may never reach his full potential, until he dedicates more time to the throws."
In the long jump, the Rams had three new jumpers make their debut. Devin Peterson led the way with a personal best of 19'2" to finish in 14th place out of 51 jumpers in competition. Newcomer Brett Peifer finished two spots back in 16th with a jump of 18'10."
"Devin came out late last year and you can see his potential," Kramer said. "I am excited to see Brett out for track and field this year. I really feel he has a lot of potential and you could see some really good things from him by the end of the season."
Another newcomer Spencer Shadwell was just behind Brett in 22nd place with a jump of 18'5."
"Spencer gives us some speed and this year and it is great to see him out for track," Kramer said. "These three guys give us some depth in the jumps and hopefully we can get them up over the,20-foot barrier by the end of the season."
Another newcomer is Jordan Smith in the high jump.
"Jordan made his debut with a high jump worth remembering, as he placed 8th with a fine jump of 5'10," Coach Kramer said. "Jordan had two really good attempts at 6 feet, but just nicked the bar on way down. Jordan's jump puts him in a tie for #6 on the 1A list for the high jump, so far this year."
Tyler Hendryx, a state finalist in the high jump last year, went out at 5'8" to finish in 12th place.
"Tyler had enough bar clearance, but like Jordan hit the bar on way down," Kramer said. "A few minor adjustments and he will be fine."
There were a couple of young Rams in the pole vault, Sebastian Smith and Luke Foltz, but they just missed the opening height of 11' and did not place. A recent wind storm has affected the training for the Shelbyville pole vaulters.
"The weather has been terrible and, with the press box being damaged, we could not get our mats out. So, we are a little behind," Coach Kramer said. "This was only the third day we have vaulted. "It was nice just to get some work in. I am excited with these two young vaulters and their potential. We looked at some film and they know what they need to work on."
In the running events, the Rams had three entrants in the 60 meter dash. Devin Peterson led the way with a 7.63 for 32nd place. Teammate Spencer Shadwell overcame a stumble out of the blocks to finish right behind in 7.68. Senior Dylan Patch, a 1st year track athlete, ran a 7.97 to finish in 69th place.
In the 3200 meter run, senior Jaden Stockdale, who signed a letter of intent to attend Rend Lake College next fall in cross country and track, ran a 10:18.97 to win his heat and finish 7th over all in the field.
"Jaden's time puts him at #5 on the state indoor list for 1A schools," Coach Kramer said. "Jaden looked great. He had been sick and gave blood this week, so I thought he might be a little tired, but that was not the case."
Teammate freshman Tyler Pasley ran a personal best of 10:27.17 to finish 13th.
"Tyler's time puts him at #7 on state indoor list in class 1A,: Kramer said. "There are not a lot of meets where kids are able to run 3200 indoors, but even so this was a great time for Tyler. One thing we are looking for Tyler to improve is to push the pace when he gets a little tired. I have a motto. I like to say that true racing doesn't start until you are tired and I really believe that. That is the difference in really good athletes as opposed to really great athletes. Tyler has a chance to get to that next level, if he can push through the pain."
Junior Drew Snider, who is back out for track this year, as he ran a season best time of 11:18.45 to finish 23rd.
"Drew continues to shine," said Coach Kramer. "I just love that Drew is back out running again. He looks like he is having fun. I really think he can improve this year and help us now and in the future in cross-country and track."
The Rams showcased their hurdle squad for the first time this season. Senior Luke McConnell, who was a state qualifier last year, ran a 9.41 to finish in 15th place.
"Luke's time puts him at #11 on state 1A indoor list," Coach Kramer said. "Luke is another dual sport athlete that we are struggling to find some practice time. but he is doing his best to get it done. I can see improvement in him from where he was last year at this time."
Cole Banning ran a 11.27 and freshman Luke Foltz finished just ahead of Cole in 11.26.
"Cole and Luke made their debut in the hurdles," Kramer said. "Although they struggled a little bit, the potential is there. Cole hit the hurdle in his lane and caused him to get out of rhythm, which affected his time. If Cole can get his trail leg better, he can be a very good hurdler. Luke has better form than Cole, but cannot 3-step in between the hurdles, which hurts him. Once he gets that down, the sky is the limit. I like that we have some depth in this event, which we have not had for quite some time."
The Ram 4 x 800 team won their heat and finished 3rd overall in a season best time of 8:30.43. The Rams were led by senior Drennian Martin, who had split of 2:02.7. Kenton Wilson ran a 2:08.5, Marcus Skinner a 2:10.8 and Preston Henze a 2:09.3.
"The time puts the Rams at #2 on the state indoor list," Coach Kramer said. "It is a shame we didn't get in the fast heat. A couple of coaches of teams in the fast heat put some questionable times as their entries and caused us to get bumped back into the next-to fastest heat. But that is O.K., we ran well. We still have some work to do. With the exception of Drennian, I thought most went out a little fast. You usually want your second lap to only be about four seconds different, but we had guys at almost ten seconds. Just have to get in a little better shape."
The Ram sprint relay (4 x 200) of Devin Peterson, Tyler Hendryx, Brett Peifer, and Spencer Shadwell ran a very good opening time of 1:40.43 to win their heat. They finished in 9th place over all.
"The time puts them in 15th place on 1A state indoor list," Coach Kramer said. "I thought the guys did O.K. We really only worked about two days on handoffs and, to tell you the truth, all the guys would tell you they have come into the season in not the greatest running shape. They will get better and I am looking forward to seeing how much they improve at EIU in two weeks."
The Rams ran some young guys in some of the other races to get some experience and the 800 was one of those. Freshman Josh Bernson, Drake Manship and Jordan Sieger all got some great experience in a big meet atmosphere. In the first heat, Josh Bernson ran a 2:25.97 to finish second and over all finished 46th out of sixty-eight runners. Drake Manship was in same heat and ran a 2:36.47 to finish 63rd over all.
"Both Josh and Drake are more long distance runners, but I thought they did a great job," Kramer said. "We are trying to improve these guys' speed this spring, so they will get a few of these races in at shorter distances."
Jordan Sieger won his heat in a time of 2:13.22 to finish in 22nd overall.
" It was a personal best for Jordan," Kramer said. "Jordan had the second fastest time of any freshman in the field."
In the 400, the Rams had three runners entered, but only two competed. Drennian Martin led the way with an 8th place finish in a time of 53.70. Devin Miner on just a weeks practice ran a 1:01.79 to finish in 55th place.
"We put Drennian in the 400 for Seth Durbin, who was back home for life-guard training," Coach Kramer said. "Drennian was supposed to run the 1600, but decided to go to dinner theater instead, so we stuck him in the 400 to get another race. He ran well, but I would have loved for him to stay and see what he could have run in 1600. Devin just needs some more time. Like some of the other guys coming in out of shape, Devin will get better."
Three freshman got valuable experience in the 200 meter dash against top level competition on Saturday. Grant Sims led the way as he ran a 25.47 to finish in 30th place out of 75 runners. Fellow freshman Keaton Plummer was right behind in a time of 25.69 to finish in 37th. His brother, Hunter Plummer, ran a 26.41 to finish in 52nd.
"I thought all three freshman ran well for their first high school indoor meet," Kramer said. "The 200 is tougher to run indoors with the tight curves. But, I think they did fine. I really think all three have a chance to contribute to varsity this year. Especially on some relay teams."
The Rams had a heat winner in the 1600, as junior Kenton Wilson ran close to a personal record (4:47.91). Teammate Marcus Skinner finished right behind in 16th place with a time of 4:48.05.
"Kenton's time put him 14th overall and puts him at #15 on state indoor list," Coach Kramer said. "Marcus' time puts him at #17 on state indoor list. I thought Kenton looked great. He ran negative splits for the race, which I love to see, and he beat a rival from Monticello. In Marcus' race, I thought he looked a little weak. I know he has a little cold and he ran a personal best in the 4x8, so that might have been a factor."
The Rams closed out the meet with the 4x400 team of Preston Henze, Tyler Hendryx, Brett Peifer, and Jordan Smith running a 3:47.00 for 12th place. The Rams have run a 3:44, which puts them at #5 on state indoor list.
"Splits for the relay were 55.9 for Henze, which was a personal best, 56.4 for Hendryx, 56.7 for Peifer, and 57.6 for Smith," Coach Kramer said. "I really think you will see these guys run better in two weeks. Like I said before, Hendryx, Peifer, and Smith are not in the greatest shape right now and will improve greatly over the season."
At this point, Coach Kramer is optimistic about the season.
"I was really happy with our guys performance," Kramer said. "We had a ton of Top Ten performances in the meet, which will be our toughest meet we compete in all year. We will see how things shake out in a couple of weeks over at EIU. We will be running a lot of our guys in some individual events at the distances to see if we can get them qualified for the State Indoor Top Times Meet."