There were two standouts pointed out by head coach Dennis Boldt for the Hillsboro High School boys track team Friday at the James Thomas Invitational meet in Hillsboro.
The first was Mitchell Day. For the second consecutive meet, Day set a personal best in the 100-meter dash. He ran a time of 10.8 in preliminaries before he easily won the event with a time of 11.12 in the final.
He said he studied tape of sprinters Tyson Gay and Usain Bolt during the off-season to lengthen his stride and improve his running form. He has won the 100 in nearly every meet this season, losing by a tenth of second to Dylan Barber of Herington at the Canton-Galva meet.
Day finished second in the 200 with a time of 23.66.
Utilizing his speed, Day finished second in the long jump with a leap of 21-4. He finished about a foot behind teammate and friend Shaq Thiessen at 22-03.
Boldt said long jump is where Day has improved the most this season. His approach as a long jumper is to attack the leaping board at full speed. It is different from Thiessen who has more natural leaping ability.
“I’m trying to push him a little,” Day said of Thiessen.
Boldt added that the healthy competition is a good thing for the team.
“He will give Shaq a hard time the day he beats him,” Boldt said.
Day and Thiessen form half of the Trojans’ 4x100 team. Cody Craney and Jesse Brown run the middle two legs for the Trojans. With smooth handoffs, the team won the race Friday with a time of 46.12.
Day said there have been two numbers that have been his obsession this season. The first is the school 100-meter record of 10.8, Day is still chasing the mark because of wind-assisted times on Friday.
The other, the number that flashes through his head during the first turn of the 4x100, is 44 seconds, the school record in that race.
“When you’re a sprinter, those are the ones that mean something,” Boldt said.
The way to improve the time in that race is to keep improving handoffs, Boldt said. The 4x100 runners have taken the initiative and work on handoffs during the 1,600-meter run of every meet.
In the quest to beat the clock, the 4x100 runners have developed a swagger that is evident in their approach.
Confidence was not always a constant for Day, who said he did not really know he was fast until he ran 11.9 in the 100 in eighth grade.
Boldt wants Day runner to keep believing in himself and his abilities.
Bret Mueller submitted the other performance that forced Boldt to take notice.
Mueller finished third in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:07.74.
However, it was his effort in relays that drew Boldt’s adulation.
Mueller ran a 54.9 split to help the Trojans’ 4x400 team place second with a time of 3:39.80.
Mueller ran the final leg of the second place 4x800 as well. The Trojans started out strong in that race behind Avery Franz but slipped to fourth with freshman Grant Knoll running. Knoll had just finished running the 3,200. Josh Richert helped make up one spot so when Mueller received the baton the Trojans were in third. Running with every ounce of effort in the second lap, Mueller passed the runner from Berean Academy in the last 100 meters. Hillsboro finished the race in 8:56.93. He then received a hearty chest bump from Boldt as he was trying to catch his breath.
“That kid understands,” Boldt said of Mueller. “He’s been there before.”
4x400: 2. Mueller, Brown, Richert, Franz, 3:39.80.
Shot put: 2. Aaron Slater, 44 feet.
High jump: 2. Jesse Brown, 5-10.
Triple jump: 2. Avery Franz, 42-4.75.
Pole vaults: 6. Tyler Proffitt, 11-3.
3200: 4. Knoll, 11:18.32.
1600: 4. Richert, 4:57.20.
800: 4. Richert, 2:09.90.