BNL foursome to compete
in two relays in state finals
By Justin Sokeland
Just one lap. That’s all. One circuit around the Robert C. Haugh track at Indiana University. How difficult can that be?
With the pressure of the IHSAA state championships knotting the shoes and stomach, with the emotion of a senior running his final race adding weight to the legs, with the stress of a teammate’s dependence draped across the back, it’s the longest, toughest lap in the lives of Bedford North Lawrence’s fantastic foursome.
The quartet of seniors Alex Adams, Isaac Kuehn and Garrett Flinn, plus junior Micah Wagner, will compete in two relays during the state finals on Saturday afternoon. They will combine to complete one lap in the 400 relay, then each run a circuit during the 1600 relay that culminates the meet.
Adams wants to run the race of his life, and it might take that type of supreme effort for the Stars to fulfill their dreams of qualifying for an award, an earned invitation to the podium to be honored among the elite. Only the top 9 (out of 27) will make medal stand. And BNL has a lot of work to do.
The Stars are seeded 20th in the 1600 (3:25.14) and 25th in the 400 (43.72). That doesn’t faze them.
“When it comes down to it, we have the will, we have the desire, the drive to really push ourselves,” Flinn said. “We just want to win that bad.”
The Stars are undefeated in the postseason, sweeping through the Hoosier Hills Conference, sectional and regional in both events. They shattered the sectional record in the 400. All but Adams have been to this stage before. They are counting on the adrenaline rush, on the heat of the moment, to spur them.
Which race if their best? Depends on who is asked. Wagner, a sprinter, loves the technical challenges of precise handoffs and the pure speed of the 400. Running 100 meters at full throttle is his specialty, Stretching that out to 400 taxes his fragile endurance.
“I prefer the short one because it’s over quick,” he said. “The longer one, I find that the worst, knowing I have to run last out of all the guys and running a lap. It’s not fun. I don’t like it.”
Yet the 1600 is the more prestigious. For whatever reason, whether it’s the famed mile distance or the fact it’s the final race, it’s held in higher regard. As BNL coach Scott Hiles said “Everybody remembers who wins it.”
“When it comes down to it, the 4 by 400 is the favorite race, because of all the hype that comes with it,” Flinn said. “It’s the last race and everyone is there to watch it.
“There will be a lot of emotion. This is my third time, and it’s hard to think after this you’re done with high school sports. We want to go out with a bang. It will be a good experience, something cool to look back on.”
BNL has established a reputation as a relay program. In 2014, the Stars (including Wagner and Flinn) won their heat and finished 11th in the state in the 1600. Last season, they advanced to the state in both, with Kuehn and Flinn helping BNL finish 25th. They are definitely better than the sum of the parts might indicate.
“It’s just all these years of being together, and finally putting it together,” Wagner said. “We have the quantity of good runners, and the relays work because you put those people together. We normally run better at the state finals. It just tends to happen. We just try to do as well as we can and not let it interfere with how we run.
“We don’t want to let the others down,” Flinn said. “We want to do our part.”
So the chase will be on. In a perfect scenario, BNL could cut some drastic times, gun for a school record and perhaps crack the podium in the 1600. If the seeds hold true (with Carmel ranked No.1 in 3:18.20), that’s what it would take. Same for the 400 (with Portage the top seed in 41.61).
“We really have nothing to lose, everything to gain,” Adams said. “It’s my last chance. I want to run the best race of my life.”
The 400 heats are scheduled to being at 6:45 p.m. The 1600 heats are set for 8:30.