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OH's Sommers, M-G's Jones win state titles

CHAMPION: Oak Hill’s Sammy Sommers clears the last hurdle on his way to winning the 60-meter hurdles small school state championship in the Hoosier State Relays Saturday in Bloomington.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

BLOOMINGTON — Grant County athletes closed the indoor track and field season with an incredible showing Saturday evening in Indiana University’s Gladstein Fieldhouse in the small school state championships of the the Hoosier State Relays.

Oak Hill senior Sammy Sommers and Madison-Grant senior A.J. Jones were each crowned as state individual champions and more than 20 total state medals were hauled back home at the end of the meet.

The Golden Eagles brought home 21 total medals, Sommers had four of the boys team’s 17, and Oak Hill stayed in the team championship fight until the last event before settling for a program-best fourth place finish

Calumet scored 44 points to win the small school championship while Westview and Fort Wayne Concordia each had 36 while the Eagles ended with 35.

“A couple events here or there, you wish we would have a had a better opportunity to get somebody in seventh eighth or ninth, but we’ll take the medals and we’ll take the start,” said Oak Hill coach Paige Brunner. “We haven’t had a lot of time to work on some of these things with the late winter sports start that we had and we haven’t had a lot of chance to do a lot of indoor the last couple of years.”

Sommers will graduate from Oak Hill this spring as one of, if not the most decorated track athlete in school history. The only thing missing from his career was a blue-ribboned medal hanging around his neck. He blazed through the 60 meter hurdles in 8.18 seconds to capture the state title and record the third fastest time in HSR small school meet history.

Sommers, a two-time outdoor state qualifier in long jump, finished fourth in that event and was part of Oak Hill’s fourth place finish in the 4x200 meter relay and fifth place in the 4x400 relay.

“Four medals as a senior and you’re a kid that lives and eats track and field. I'm definitely happy for him,” Brunner said of Sommers. “He’s put in the work in the offseason, gone to a lot of big meets.

“He’s kind of flip flopping right now. He’s not where he wants to be in the long jump but he’s got a lot of confidence in the hurdles,” Brunner added. “He was runner-up in both of those events here last year. Happy for him to get that state title and hopefully that builds some confidence moving forward.”

Just over a year ago, Jones was recovering from surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder and wasn’t certain he’d ever to be able to throw a shot put again. While he’s still searching for improvement and potentially big things in the outdoor season, his toss of 51-feet, 8.5 inches was more than a foot further than the other 23 competitors and earned him a state championship.

“For AJ its kind of a storybook ending to be here and be able to do this,” said M-G coach TJ Herniak. “He was really in a bad spot when he tore than shoulder up, he didn’t even get the chance to compete in any indoor meets because of that shoulder.

We didn't get to see him throw until the first week of April (last season)," he added. "For him to go from that point to being able to work, not only from a health perspective, but changing his technique ... its a fairly tale ending for him."

Eastbrook had a handful of athletes qualify for the HSR, but coach Stu Goble had just two make the trip to Bloomington because of spring break and other commitments.

But senior Audrey Altum made the trip very much worth her while by finishing fifth in the girls 60 meter hurdles (9.51). Altum was close to qualifying for the outdoor state last season, and has worked tirelessly to achieve the status of state medalist.

"It's been a goal for her since around this time last year. She got a taste of it and wanted to make sure that she could get up on the medal stand," Goble said. "She's worked hard to get where she is. It's special.

Due to the late conclusion of the meet, a more detailed account of all the medal winners will be available in Tuesday's Chronicle-Tribune.