Track team sending 12 to State

(L-R) Christian Lucier, Eddie Pasquale, Luke Speidel and Tim Freeman set a new school record for the boys 4x400, winning the event at Districts in 3:24.39.  - JIM WHITING/Staff Photo
(L-R) Christian Lucier, Eddie Pasquale, Luke Speidel and Tim Freeman set a new school record for the boys 4x400, winning the event at Districts in 3:24.39.
— image credit: JIM WHITING/Staff Photo

Call it the Ivey League.

Sisters Becca and Veronica Ivey both ran sub-60-second legs to power the Spartan 4x400 relay to a school record 4:04.74, defeating defending event state champion Bellevue to conclude Saturday’s District 2 track and field championships on a high note. The Spartans won three events in the state’s most competitive district meet.

A few minutes earlier, the boys 4x400 relay team knocked another three seconds off the school record they’d set earlier this year by winning the event in 3:24.39.

Tim Freeman won the 800 meters in 1:57:41, knocking more than a second off the personal best he’d set two days before in the prelims.

As an added bonus, both sprint relay teams qualified for state. The girls 4x100 team of Michelle Baggett, Veronica Ivey, Sushi Speidel and Crisma Biggs clocked 51.25 for fourth, while the boys team of Luke Speidel, Christian Lucier, Eddie Pasquale and Freeman – the same group that ran the longer relay – was third in 44.60.

All told, the Spartans qualified 12 athletes – probably their highest total ever – for Star Track XX, which opens Friday, with two others missing by the narrowest of margins.

Two girls actually qualified on Thursday, which included several finals in addition to preliminaries in most events.

Laura Bartunek cleared five feet in the high jump and finished fourth, while Christy Lubovich ran a 12-second personal best in the 3200 – which included her best-ever mile of 5:37 – and was also fourth in 11:38.36.

Matt Wauters threw 46-11 in the shot, but finished outside the qualifying top five by an inch. Chad Weldy tied for fifth in the pole vault with a leap of 12-6 but dropped to sixth on the basis of more misses.

Freeman, the favorite in the 800, came through the first lap in 58 seconds, a step behind the race leader. He made his decisive move just before going into the second turn and easily won in a time of 1:57.41.

“I was sick Thursday and felt dead tired,” Freeman said. “But today I felt good the whole race. My strategy was to follow the leader and then kick. He paced me perfectly – my hat’s off to him.

“I’m still learning the race. I hope to break 1:57 at the state meet.”

Moments later, three Spartans – the two Iveys and Audrey Bennett – lined up for the girls 800. Becca Ivey was second after a 67-second first lap, with Veronica another second back. Becca made a move with 300 meters to go but couldn’t overtake the frontrunner, though her 2:18.83 was faster than her corresponding time last year. Veronica clocked 2:22.22 as she hung on for fourth. Bennett was sixth in 2:26.62.

In the boys 4x400, Speidel finished his leg even with a runner from Newport, the other preliminary heat winner. Lucier fell back, but caught his man just before the handoff. Pasquale also dropped back, then surged ahead in the final 50 meters to give Freeman a two-step lead. At that point it was all over as the Spartan junior clocked a 50-second final lap to win by 10 yards.

“Before the season started, I had no idea we would be this good,” Freeman said. “I’m really happy with what we’ve done. We’re undefeated, and I hope we keep it that way.”

The girls race was even more dramatic. Though Biggs led off with a 61.5 and Veronica Ivey dipped under 60, Bellevue ran its two top runners in the opening legs and opened up a substantial lead. Even with Sarah Grue maintaining the team’s position, it appeared that the Spartans would finish second as Becca Ivey took the baton nearly 20 yards in arrears. The lead remained virtually unchanged going into the final turn, but Ivey surged and moved into contention coming down the final straight. She caught the Bellevue runner about 40 yards out and won by five yards. Her split was 58.95.

“I’m surprised I had anything left after the 800,” said Ivey, whose bout with the flu kept her out in the middle of the season.

“With 150 meters to go I was feeling strong, so I decided to go for it.”

And she got it.

Other Spartan performances: Grue, 7th, 1600, 5:28.25; Wauters, 7th, discus, 127-11; Erin Ebert, 8th, discus, 99-3; Nolan Amy, 8th, 3200, 9:57.16; Rachel Belt, 11th, 1600, 5:39.27; Lizzie Corbin, 12th, 1600, 5:42.85.

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