GCMS boys track athletes Brucker, Schultz and Bleich advance to IHSA state meet; Bachtold, Harrison to represent PBL

PAXTON -- Isaac Brucker takes inspiration from a motivational video by movie star Shia LaBeouf.
"As Shia LaBeouf said, 'Don't let your dreams be dreams. Just go for your dreams. Make it happen. Do what you love,'" Brucker said. “If you want to do something you love, go for it."
The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley boys track and field pole vaulter took those words to heart on Thursday at the IHSA Class 1A Paxton Sectional.
He finished first in the pole vault event with a height of 12-11. As a result, he is making his first IHSA state meet appearance next weekend.
“I feel amazed. I'm a little bit speechless. I somewhat expected it, but since the weather was so terrible and I was a little sick from the cold going around, I wasn't really expecting to make it," Brucker said.
“The wind was blowing. Also, the cold was going around. I'm a little bit shocked, but not too shocked.”
Brucker, who already holds the school record in the pole vault, is aiming to increase that record to 14-0 at the state meet. 
“I've been so close to 14-0," Brucker said. “I'm hoping that next week, I can get 14-0 and put my school record higher.” 
“Isaac Brucker did a wonderful job in the pole vault," GCMS head coach Mark Ward added. "He's really managed to evolve his game. He gave us good points.”
Like Brucker, GCMS teammate Nick Schultz also had a first-place finish on Thursday.
Schultz leapt at a height of 6-8 in the high jump, saying that, after clearing 6-5, “I felt confident enough to bump it up to 6-8." 
"I want that at state, though," Schultz said. "It's good to peak here, but I want it at state, too. Once you get down to state, you just get all that adrenaline pumping. You get that excitement. I can definitely see myself doing 6-9 or 6-10. My head's high right now.”
Schultz finished third in the high jump at last year's state meet. 
He is the defending state champion in the long jump. At Thursday's sectional meet, he earned the chance to defend his title with a fifth-place leap of 20-11 1/2.
“I've got to defend the long jump," Schultz said. "I didn't have any experience last year going in. I'm just hoping I can pop a big jump there at state. Hopefully, it holds like it did last year.”
At last year's state meet, Schultz also finished fourth in the triple jump. On Thursday, he had a leap of 42-9, which was good enough for second place.
“I scratched the rest of them," Schultz said. "I felt confident there, and I didn't want to wear myself out.”
The long jump and triple jump produced a combined 11 state qualifiers at Thursday's meet, including two from GCMS in each event.
“In the jumping events, we were really strong this year. I'm very proud of them," Ward said. “Nick Schultz came out and did what he was supposed to do. Caleb (Bleich) gave us a few points in the long jump.”
Bleich finished third in the long jump with a leap of 21-0 3/4.
Bleich competed in the long jump state preliminaries, but next weekend will be his state appearance in the triple jump after he finished third in that event at Thursday's sectional meet with a leap of 41-11.
“I'm hoping I can place in the top five, at least, in the long jump," Bleich said. "In triple jump, I'd like to go anywhere on the podium.”
Bleich was one of five long-jump state qualifiers and one of six jumpers in the triple jump to make it to state.
“There were a lot of people who were jumping a lot further than I was," Bleich said.
Bleich said he is glad he will be joined by his teammate, Schultz, at the event.
“It helps a lot," Bleich said.
Paxton-Buckley-Loda's Garrett Bachtold will join Brucker in the pole vault at the state meet.
Like Brucker, he will make his first IHSA state appearance after finishing second in the event with a height of 11-11 at Thursday's sectional meet.
“I'm really excited," Bachtold said. "It'll be a great experience with a lot of great people. I've still got a lot to do, though. We'll see how that goes.”
“I'm very happy that Garrett Bachtold qualified out," PBL head coach Dustin Franckey added. "That boy has worked very hard. He's got better vaulting ahead of him, that's for sure.”
PBL's Kody Harrison is going to state as well after finished second in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:44.51
“I was hoping to get under 4:40, but it's still a pretty good time, I think," Harrison said. “When I finished, my head was just throbbing like crazy, but it's starting to die down and get back to normal a little bit.”
Harrison went to state last year in the 3,200-meter run. This year, he hopes to reach higher goals.
“I'm pretty excited to see what I can do in the mile," Harrison said. "If I can get to finals, that'd be pretty cool.”
According to the heat sheets, Harrison was also scheduled to run in the 3,200-meter run, but due at least in part to high-80 degree temperatures and strong winds, Franckey and Harrison decided that Harrison should opt out of the race.
“Kody Harrison ran outstanding tonight. He and I have talked a number of times this last week, looking at the weather forecast and wondering about what some other athletes were doing. We decided to go ahead and pull him from 3,200 run," Franckey said. "We thought his chances were a little better in the 1,600 with the heat and the wind being what it was. We said, 'You know what? He's just going to run a 1,600 fresh.' He was all on board, and he executed very well.”
While GCMS's Tyler Ricks and PBL's Alec St. Julien finished third and fourth, respectively, with times of 4:51.17 and 4:55.31 in the 1,600-meter run, PBL's Brendan VanAntwerp also gained points in the 3,200-meter run with a fifth-place time of 11:43.14.
“He has poured his heart and soul into this program and bought into almost the cult-like culture we have on the distance squad," Franckey said. "I know he didn't run the time that he wanted to, but he still executed a great race and scored for us, which is what we needed. His four points in the 3,200 run added up, and he bought in. 
"We could have ran him in three or four events. He said, 'Put me wherever you think I'm going to score the most points,' and the 3,200 had his name written all over it. He executed a great race plan and held his position where he should.”
Following the field events, GCMS led the team standings thanks largely to the efforts of Brucker, Schultz and Bleich.
After the running events, however, the Falcons finished fifth with a score of 51 1/2.
“We just don't have a lot of depth, Ward said. “It was a very good night. I'm every happy with where we ended up. We always wish we could be a little better, but we get one night to run, and everybody's got to bring their A game on that one night.”
“We tried to put our eggs in the basket for the 4x200 and use Nick and Caleb in their fourth and final event, and the handoff just didn't go well in the first one. We've got to live with the choices we make – we, meaning me – but the guys never gave up.”
PBL went into Thursday's meet as five-time defending sectional champions, but after Watseka took the sectional title on Thursday with a score of 77 1/2, Franckey had a message for the Warriors, who also ended the Panthers' reign as three-time conference champions on May 8.
"We all know there are going to be better years ahead. Next year, we plan on being back here winning a title," Franckey said. "I told Watseka coach (Richard) Dickte, 'Congratulations. Next year, you're going to have to fight for it because we're going to be right there knocking on the door. We've got big aspirations for next year, and the team has already bought in. We shall see.”
The Panthers finished fourth with a score of 52 that surpassed Franckey's expectations.
“We performed pretty well. I had us pegged with about 43 points just kind of going off what my gut was telling me last night, and they outperformed what I was thing, which is good," Franckey said.
“The guys who want to be here were here, and they performed well. I can't hang my hat on any negativity from that aspect. The core group of guys that were here that included 10 to 12 guys who weren't even competing – throwers, distance guys, sprinters that just didn't have a spot – were here doing hurdle work, raking pits, helping out at shot put and discus.”
Michael Curry finished third in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.84 seconds and fourth in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 42.92 seconds for PBL. 
“He has done an outstanding job these four years at being our rock wherever we need him," Franckey said. "For 2-3 years, he was a vaulter for us. He's a solid guy, and we ran him in the hurdles a little bit. I said, 'we've got some big holes in the hurdles. We need you.' He is one of those guys who shows up and says, 'What can I do to help the team?' That's awesome. That's going to take you very far in life.”
Ryan Masterson finished 13th in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.77 seconds.
“He ended very well running a personal record in the 200-meter dash," Franckey said. "It was great seeing him come down the home stretch and just being Ryan Masterson. I really hope his younger brother comes and runs for us. That's a great family. I really enjoy having his parents around.”
Masterson, along with Riley Cuppernell and Ryan Perkinson, helped the 4x100 relay team finished seventh with a time of 47.17 seconds. T.J. Jones ran the final leg of that relay for PBL despite running with an injury.
“I think he's going to be OK," Franckey said. "As soon as he crossed the finish line, I said after we got him up, 'Football-mode, buddy. You get healthy. (PBL football coach Jeff) Graham's going to want you fast and healthy.' That's the mode he was in. He stayed and cheered us on like he should.”
Jones also finished ninth with a leap of 39-7 in the triple jump -- a 13-inch personal record, according to Franckey said. Jones also set a personal record in the long jump with a ninth-place leap of 18-9 3/4.
“He came out here ready to jump and looked really good this last week," Franckey said.
Jones was also on the heat sheet for the 4x200 relay, in which PBL finished sixth with a time of 1:41.21. Jordan Giese finished seventh with a time of 2:08.84. He was also part of a 4x400 relay team that finished fourth with a time of 3:42.65 while GCMS finished fifth with a time of 3:43.3 with a group that included Casey Calaway -- who also had a seventh-place finish in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.97 seconds -- and Lance Livingston.
“Our 4x400 turned it around," Ward said. "We were running with the second squad, and they still did well. I'm still proud of the splits that we got out of them. A couple of guys have never run in an event this big. Sectionals is pretty anxiety-causing. It makes you anxious, and those guys did wonderful. A couple of those guys on that team are going to be back next year.”
PBL's Tom Henrichs finished sixth in the high jump with a leap of 5-9 while teammate Jake Rich finished third in the shot put wiht a throw of 43-10 and eighth in the discus with a throw of 117-8.
Like Franckey, Ward also is optimistic about the future of his track and field program.
“Now's the time in the season where you start looking ahead to next year," Ward said. "We've got a good, quality group of freshmen that came in and a good, quality group of sophomore. That, and our junior leadership, is all going to help out, along with the eighth-graders coming in. We're coming back up on the top of the cycle. Next year, I think we'll be just as competitive in the field events and have some more depth and get some more competitiveness in the running events.”
In the meantime, Franckey said he had some thank-you notes to hand out to his coaches, including volunteer coach Mike Tipsord, jumps coach Tom Rubarts and assistant coach Rob Pacey.
“Tipsord is there every day without fail. Coach Tipsord is there every single day giving me all my splits. That's how we tackle when we have all of our horses. We take those split sheets and all of our previous meet results, and we plan our attack on meets. He's out there every single day setting up my stuff for workouts before we even come out and I'm talking with the team," Franckey said.
“Look at the results the last couple of years -- (Rubarts) does an outstanding job. He is wise beyond his years. He's definitely a huge asset to our coaching staff.
“Coach Pacey is another one that does an outstanding job. He is a jack of all trades for us. He does throws, vaults, a little bit of hurdle stuff. He is just all over the place, a wealth of knowledge that we pull off of to help throughout the whole season. I have the benefit of working with him in the office, and we get to bounce crazy ideas off each other throughout the day. It's such an honor to have such a great group of guys I can lean on, especially in a time like this when we're not on top." 
IHSA Class 1A
Team scores
1. Watseka, 77.5; 2. Kankakee McNamara, 75; 3. Ridgeview, 69; 4. Paxton-Buckley-Loda, 52; 5. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley, 51.5; 6. Clifton Central, 47; 7. Tri-Valley, 36; 8. LeRoy, 27; 9. Momence, 22; 10. Hoopeston Area, 20; 11. Milford, 19; 12. Iroquois West, 19; 13. St. Anne, 17; 14. Dwight, 15; 15. Heyworth, 11; 16. Tri-Point, 0; 17. Bloomington Cornerstone Christian, 0.
100-meter dash
1. Ariz Andrew (MCN) 11.45*; 2. Tate Walcott (RID) 11.57*; 3. Lance Dittrich (WAT) 11.65; 4. Jason Bargy (MOM) 11.67; 5. Jacob Connor (IW) 11.72.
GCMS results -- 7. Casey Calaway, 11.97; 20. Ethan Kasper, 12.9.
PBL results -- 27. Curtis Phillips, 13.48; 29. Dylan Polson, 13.9.
200-meter dash
1. Tate Walcott (RID) 22.66*; 2. Ariz Andrew (MCN) 22.68*; 3. Jason Bargy (MOM) 23.03*; 4. Lance Dittrich (WAT) 23.18; 5. Mason Barr (RID) 23.41.
GCMS results -- 7. Casey Calaway, 23.77.
PBL results -- 13. Ryan Masterson, 24.77.
400-meter dash
1. Devon Butler (HEY) 51.76*; 2. Jalmen Sullivan (STA) 52.36*; Jorge Jimenez (IW) 52.53; 4. Riley Cuppernell (PBL) 53.76; 5. Jake Ward (TV) 54.13.
PBL results -- 17. Brady Barfield, 59.41.
800-meter run
1. Ryan Schmidt (TV) 2:04.14*; 2. Nathan Schroeder (WAT) 2:04.74*; 3. Zeb Pliura (LER) 2:05.64; 4. Travis Felchlia (CC) 2:06.54; 5. J.C. Santos (DWI) 2:07.74.
PBL results -- 7. Jordan Giese, 2:08.84; 19. Adam McMullin, 2:33.64.
GCMS results -- 21. Remi Astronomo, 2:48.34.
1,600-meter run
1. Trey Houmes (HA) 4:36.74*; 2. Kody Harrison (PBL) 4:44.51*; 3. Tyler Ricks (GCMS) 4:51.17; 4. Alec St. Julien (PBL) 4:55.31; 5. Isaiah Ditta (CC) 5:00.61.
GCMS results -- 20. Remi Astronomo, 6:10.2.
3,200-meter run
1. Trey Houmes (HA) 10:07.41*; 2. Ricky Esparza (MCN) 10:11.31*; 3. Kellen Saindon (MCN) 10:36.8; 4. Drew Guimond (TV) 10:43.04; 5. Brendan VanAntwerp (PBL) 11:43.14.
GCMS results -- 13. Ethan Freehill, 14:11.95.
110-meter hurdles
1. Mason Barr (RID) 16.09*; 2. Dakota Stevens (MIL) 16.14*; 3. Michael Curry (PBL) 16.84; 4. Timothy Harris (MCN) 17.52; 5. Christian Williams (DWI) 17.96.
GCMS results -- 12. Bryant Morano, 19.24; 18. Caleb Dunham, 24.18.
300-meter hurdles
1. Hunter Lee (WAT) 40.07*; 2. Mason Barr (RID) 40.32*; 3. Dakota Stevens (MIL) 40.91*; 4. Michael Curry (PBL) 42.92; 5. Christian Williams (DWI) 43.93.
GCMS results -- 11. Bryant Morano, 47.14; 20. Caleb Dunham, 1:03.13.
4x100 relay
1. Kankakee McNamara, 43.85*; 2. Watseka, 44.24*; 3. Momence, 44.32*; 4. Iroquois West, 44.84; 5. Ridgeview, 46.42.
PBL results -- 7. Riley Cuppernell, Ryan Masterson, Ryan Perkinson, T.J. Jones, 47.17.
GCMS results -- 9. Marcus Baillie, Lance Livingston, Wesley Quimby, Spencer Meenen, 47.81.
4x200 relay
1. Ridgeview, 1:30.79*; 2. Kankakee McNamara, 1:30.94*; 3. Momence, 1:32.75*; 4. Clifton Central, 1:33.44*; 5. Watseka, 1:35.91.
PBL results -- 6. Ryan Masterson, Gavin Ogburn, Tanner Longest, T.J. Jones, 1:41.21.
4x400 relay
1. Watseka, 3:32.86*; 2. Kankakee McNamara, 3:33.63*; 3. Ridgeview, 3:34.56; 4. PBL, 3:42.65; 5. GCMS, 3:43.3.
4x800 relay
1. Kankakee McNamara, 8:29*; 2. Dwight, 8:33.28*; 3. Clifton Central, 8:39.47; 4. Watseka, 8:52.04; 5. Iroquois West, 9:09.49.
PBL results -- 7. Nik Schnabel, Gavin Ogburn, Tanner Longest, Erik Reck, 9:22.72.
GCMS results -- 9. Remi Astronomo, Revell Hamilton, Jacob Norbot, Ethan Freehill, 10:00.32. 
High jump
1. Nick Schultz (GCMS) 6-8*; 2. Jarod Meents (CC) 6-3*; 3. Hunter Lee (WAT) 6-1*; 4. Jalmen Sullivan (STA) 6-1*; 5. Jacob Donaldson (RID) 5-9.
PBL results -- 6. Tom Henrichs, 5-9.
Long jump
1. Tate Walcott (RID) 22-4 1/2*; 2. Lance Dittrich (WAT) 21-0 3/4*; 3. Caleb Bleich (GCMS) 21-0 3/4*; 4. Jarod Meents (CC) 21-0 1/2*; 5. Nick Schultz (GCMS) 20-11 1/2*.
PBL results -- 9. T.J. Jones, 18-9 3/4.
Triple jump
1. Jarod Meents (CC) 44-7*; 2. Nick Schultz (GCMS) 42-9*; 3. Caleb Bleich (GCMS) 41-11*; 4. Jalmen Sullivan (STA) 41-8 1/2*; 5. Keegan Zack (WAT) 41-8*; 6. Jacob Donaldson (RID) 41-5*.
PBL results -- 9. T.J. Jones, 39-7.
Shot put
1. Alex Lamont (LER) 45-7*; 2. Rusty Kuhlmann (WAT) 45-2*; 3. Jake Rich (PBL) 43-10; 4. Cameron Elam (TV) 43-2; 5. Sam Andrade (IW) 41-11.
PBL results -- 11. Brandon Scott, 38-3.
GCMS results -- 19. Ryan Shambrook, 34-0; T20. Owen Duke, 33-5.
1. Alex Lamont (LER) 147-10*; 2. Evan Shook (TV) 141-0*; 3. Kodie Willis (CC) 125-9; 4. Chaz Reetz (MIL) 123-0; 5. Cameron Elam (TV) 122-4.
PBL results -- 8. Jake Rich, 117-8; 10. Keegan Lantz, 108-4.
GCMS results -- 12. Owen Duke, 105-9; 17. Ryan Shambrook, 91-3.
Pole vault
1. Isaac Brucker (GCMS) 12-11*; 2. Garrett Bachtold (PBL) 11-11*; 3. Ryan Steiner (TV) 11-11; 4. Jakob Miles (PBL) 9-5; 5. Justin McTaggart (WAT) 7-11; 5. Wesley Quimby (GCMS) 7-11.
* -- state qualifier   



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