PBL boys track and field team reclaims Twin Valley Conference championship

PAXTON -- According to Dustin Franckey, the head coach of the Paxton-Buckley-Loda boys track and field team, his Panthers have performed this season with one mantra -- "start the streak."
Prior to last year, PBL had a streak going as it won three straight conference championships in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The streak ended in May 2017, however, as Watseka claimed the Twin Valley Conference championship while PBL finished second in the meet.
On Monday, the Panthers returned to the throne by claiming first place with a score of 141. Watseka placed second with a score of 108, followed in the top five by Clifton Central (106), Dwight (71) and Iroquois West (30).
“I'm super-happy to see how they bounced back from last year and all had a common purpose and goal and bought into it all year long," Franckey said. “I'm so happy for my seniors who have put in the work in the program for the last seven years. It's icing on the cake to come back. We're restarting the streak.”
One of the seniors who competed for PBL in what would be their last track meet at the Guyot Track facility is Jonathan Muller. He said he is happy to leave on a high note.
“It's a great way to end the senior season at the home track," Muller said. 
Muller finished first in the long jump with a leap of 21-8, which was 14 1/2 inches longer than the second-place jump, performed by Watseka's Keegan Zack.
“I didn't jump the hottest. I haven't touched the board for the last couple of meets, but for not touching the board, I jumped pretty far," Muller said. "I'm pretty happy.”
In the 100-meter dash, Muller finished first with a time of 11.25 seconds while teammate, and fellow senior, Dylan Polson finished 13th with a time of 12.94 seconds.
“I was excited to run it," Muller said. "I knew the kids (I raced against) were fast. They gave me a good competition.”
Muller was also part of a 4x100 relay team that, along with Riley Cuppernell, T.J. Jones and Mason Ecker, finished first with a time of 45.08 seconds. 
“The sprint crew has really come along this year," Franckey said. "(Assistant coach Mike) Tipsord has done outstanding with our handoff work and our block work. Those guys are doing outstanding for us.”
The foursome also finished first in the 4x200 relay with a time of 1:33.9.
“We've been doing well," Muller said. "We kicked butt, and I'm really happy.”
Ecker is one of a handful of PBL track and field team members who also play for the school's baseball program. Brett Giese and Drew Diesburg, who plays for the junior varsity baseball team placed in the high jump and pole vault, respectively.
Giese finished fourth in the high jump with a leap of 5-5 while Diesburg finished second in the pole vault with a height of 8-6. Garrett Bachtold placed first in the pole vault with a height of 14-0.
“I'm thankful at (PBL head baseball head coach Brock) Niebuhr has let us borrow Mason Ecker, who is having a great season on the mound and at the plate and on the basepaths. He did a heck of a job for us today," Franckey said. 
"He shows up and works on his handoffs and gets the job done, and he's fast. As long as we can keep using him, I'm forever grateful to Brock and the baseball team for letting us steal him every now and again. It's fun watching him run.”
With a lifetime personal-record throw of 135-4 in the discus, Jake Rich won the individual championship in the event. 
In the shot put, Rich placed second with a throw of 45-5 while Zac Babcock finished fourth with a toss of 41-11 1/2.
Rich second in shot “(Jake's) been right around that 45-foot range consistently outdoors," Franckey said.
Rich's performance was especially impressive considering that, according to Franckey, he had very little sleep the previous night as he became an uncle on Sunday night, “or maybe even this morning.”
“That's extremely exciting for him," Franckey said. "He needs to go home and get his rest. He's got more work to do.”
Jordan Giese finished second in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:07.73 while senior Adam McMullin placed 16th with a time of 2:35.69.
Alec St. Julien finished second in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:52.46 while senior Kody Harrison finished fourth with a time of 5:00.27.
Harrison also placed third in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 10:46.75 while Nik Schnabel finished sixth with a time of 11:25.87.
T.J. Jones took second place in the triple jump with a leap of 40-1.
The PBL 4x400 relay team (Cody Winter, Jordan Giese, Tanner Longest, Alec St. Julien) finished third with a time of 3:44.73.
In the 400-meter dash, Cody Winter finished fifth with a time of 55.93 seconds and Cuppernell placed sixth with a time of 56.28 seconds.
In the 110-meter hurdles, Kris Hewerdine finished third with a time of 18.09 seconds while Curtis Phillips placed fifth with a time of 18.91 seconds.
Hewerdine also finished fourth in the 300-meter hurdles while Phillips placed sixth with a time of 46.99 seconds.
“I'm super-happy to see our upperclassmen battling and earning that trophy," Franckey said.
The PBL 4x800 relay team (Trevor Morse, Tanner Longest, Brady Barfeild, Ashton Goss), finished seventh with a time of 9:42.09.
Bachtold finished eighth in the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.09 seconds.
The Panthers' freshman/sophomore 4x200 relay team (Zac Jayne, Connor Beland, Clayton Skinner and Patrick Griffin) finished first.
The PBL freshman/sophomore 4x100 relay team (Luke Cowan, Dane Polson, Brandon Scott, Keegan Lantz) placed second. 
Zac Jayne finished fourth in the freshman/sophomore 100-meter dash while Connor Beland placed sixth.
In the freshman/sophomore 200-meter dash, Clayton Skinner and Patrick Griffin finished 10th and 11th, respectively.
On Thursday, May 17, PBL will try to restart another streak as it competes in the IHSA Class 1A Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Sectional.
Last May, PBL had a streak of five straight sectional championships snapped via a fourth-place finish in the Paxton Sectional, while Watseka took the title.
“We're going to take a look at results tonight and look at the body of work for the entire year and see how we're going to attack this," Franckey said.
Along with Watseka and host GCMS, PBL will compete against Bloomington Central Catholic, Bloomington Cornerstone Christian Academy, Clifton Central, Ridgeview, Tri-Point, Tri-Valley, Diwght, Iroquois West, Heyworth, Kankakee McNamara, LeRoy, Milford/Cissna Park, Momence and St. Anne.
“We've got a number of good teams (to compete against), so we want to make sure we have a number of guys representing us at the state finals and see how many points we can score down at the state finals," Franckey said. "I think that we're one of the best teams in this sectional, and we'll see how everyone performs. I know they're hungry.”
At Paxton
Team scores
1. Paxton-Buckley-Loda, 141; 2. Watseka, 108; 3. Clifton Central, 106; 4. Dwight, 71; 5. St. Anne, 53; 6. Iroquois West, 30; 7. Tri-Point, 13; 8. Beecher, 12; 9. Momence, 7; 10. Illinois Lutheran, 4; 11. South Newton, 3.
100-meter dash
1. Jonathan Muller (PBL) 11.25; 2. Omavi Epps (STA) 11.53; 3. Keegan Zack (WAT) 11.71; 4. Chandler Burrow (CC) 11.95; 5. Kollin Krumwiede (CC) 12.06.
PBL results -- 13. Dylan Polson, 12.94.
100-meter dash (f/s)
1. Jose Pizano, St. Anne; 2. Dawson Gossett, Central; 3. Amarious Wyatt, St. Anne; 4. Zac Jayne, PBL; 5. Ronnie Daly, Illinois Lutheran; 6. Connor Beland, PBL.
200-meter dash
1. Keegan Zack (WAT) 23.35; 2. Kollin Krumwiede (CC) 23.96; 3. Omavi Epps (STA) 24.12; 4. Alex Emery (MOM) 24.17; 5. Lucas Lee (WAT) 24.19.
PBL results -- 8. Garrett Bachtold, 25.09.
200-meter dash (f/s)
1. Dawson Gossett, Clifton Central; 2. Luke Fox, St. Anne; 3. Javonny Carmona, Iroquois West; 4. James Pelnarsh, South Newton; 5. Joseph Ledford, Beecher.
PBL results -- 10. Clayton Skinner; 11. Patrick Griffin.
400-meter dash
1. Will Bergstrom (DWI) 54.06; 2. Caden Perry (CC) 54.58; 3. Blake Hill (DWI) 55.51; 4. Justin McTaggart (WAT) 55.9; 5. Cody Winter (PBL) 55.93; 6. Riley Cuppernell (PBL) 56.28.
400-meter dash (f/s)
1. Hudson Arseneau, Watseka; 2. Christian Ladehoff, Central; 3. Dawson Gossett, Central; 4. Kevin Ferrari, Dwight; 5. Hayden Brown, Beecher; 6. Anthony Bruner, Tri-Point.
PBL results -- 8. Liam McMullin; 10. Cody Sample.
800-meter run
1. J.C. Santos (DWI) 2:07.37; 2. Jordan Giese (PBL) 2:07.73; 3. Jeremiah Norris (CC) 2:08.78; 4. Justin Bunting (WAT) 2:10.09; 5. Wyatt Dohe (TP) 2:11.94.
PBL results -- 16. Adam McMullin, 2:35.69.
1,600-meter run
1. Isaiah Ditta (CC) 4:49.82; 2. Alec St. Julien (PBL) 4:52.46; 3. Jeremy Snejberg (CC) 4:52.96; 4. Kody Harrison (PBL) 5:00.27; 5. Gustavo Leal (BEE) 5:00.4.
3,200-meter run
1. Isaiah Ditta (CC) 10:23.86; 2. Mari Anthony (STA) 10:45.41; 3. Kody Harrison (PBL) 10:46.75; 4. Connor Price (IW) 11:06.82; 5. David Florian (SN) 11:20; 6. Nik Schnabel, 11:25.87.
110-meter hurdles
1. Jefferson Caspary (CC) 16.3; 2. Christian Williams (DWI) 17.04; 3. Kris Hewerdine (PBL) 18.09; 4. Mari Anthony (STA) 18.17; 5. Curtis Phillips (PBL) 18.91.
300-meter hurdles
1. Christian Williams (DWI) 42.4; 2. Mari Anthony (STA) 44.37; 3. Dusty Manietta (DWI) 44.54; 4. Kris Hewerdine (PBL) 45.77; 5. Justin Bunting (WAT) 46.42; 6. Curtis Phillips (PBL) 46.99.
4x100 relay
1. PBL (Riley Cuppernell, Jonathan Muller, T.J. Jones, Mason Ecker), 45.08; 2. St. Anne, 46.08; 3. Watseka, 46.13; 4. Dwight, 46.5; 5. Momence, 46.88.
4x100 relay (f/s)
1. Watseka; 2. PBL (Luke Cowan, Dane Polson, Brandon Scott, Keegan Lantz); 3. Clifton Central; 4. Iroquois West.
4x200 relay
1. PBL (Riley Cuppernell, Jonathan Muller, T.J. Jones, Mason Ecker), 1:33.9; 2. Clifton Central, 1:36.38; 3. Watseka, 1:36.48; 4. St. Anne, 1:43.07; 5. Iroquois West, 1:46.71.
4x200 relay (f/s)
1. PBL (Zac Jayne, Connor Beland, Clayton Skinner, Patrick Griffin); 2. Iroquois West; 3. Watseka; 4. Clifton Central.
4x400 relay
1. Dwight, 3:39.56; 2. Watseka, 3:41.88; 3. PBL (Cody Winter, Jordan Giese, Tanner Longest, Alec St. Julien), 3:44.73; 4. Clifton Central, 3:55.09; 5. St. Anne, 3:58.49.
4x800 relay
1. Clifton Central, 8:49.02; 2. Iroquois West, 9:01.13; 3. Dwight, 9:06.92; 4. Watseka, 9:08.42; 5. Beecher, 9:18.4.
PBL results -- 7. Trevor Morse, Tanner Longest, Brady Barfield, Ashton Goss, 9:42.09.
High jump
1. Wyatt Dohe (TP) 5-9; 2. Mitchell Schrimsher (BEE) 5-9; 3. Justin Bunting (WAT) 5-7; 4. Brett Giese (PBL) 5-5.
Long jump
1. Jonathan Muller (PBL) 21-8; 2. Keegan Zack (WAT) 20-5 1/2; 3. Zachary Gerling (IW) 19-0; 4. Thomas Konetski (CC) 18-5; 5. Kelton Musgraves (WAT) 18-2 1/4.
Triple jump
1. Keegan Zack (WAT) 41-3; 2. T.J. Jones (PBL) 40-1; 3. Drew Hagen (WAT) 39-9; 4. Zachary Gerling (IW) 38-5; 5. Teondre Shannon (STA) 36-0.
Shot put
1. Rusty Kuhlmann (WAT) 47-6; 2. Jake Rich (PBL) 45-5; 3. Kodie Willis (CC) 42-9; 4. Zac Babcock (PBL) 41-11 1/2; 5. Jacob Reitz (IW) 40-7 1/2.
1. Jake Rich (PBL) 135-4; 2. Rusty Kuhlmann (WAT) 130-5; 3. Kodie Willis (CC) 121-1; 4. Jacob Mills (IL) 118-11; 5. Jacob Reitz (IW) 117-1.
Pole vault
1. Garrett Bachtold (PBL) 14-0; 2. Drew Diesburg (PBL) 8-6; 3. Justin McTaggart (WAT) 8-0.
NOTE: Times were unavailable for freshman/sophomore races.


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