BLOOMINGTON — Churubusco was one of the only Class 1A schools sending four individuals to the state track finals — a testament to the hard work of the team’s pole vaulters and throwers.
Columbia City’s girls team sent a relay team, and the boys had two field event athletes at Bloomington as well.
Columbia City’s Alex Scharpenberg leapt his way to a 10th-place finish in high jump, clearing 6 feet, 4 inches. The state-winning jump was 7 feet, 4 inches.
Churubusco sophomore Sam Wood was on his second trip to the state finals, and defended his regional title at Marion. Wood was seeded 12th at the state meet, clearing 14 feet, 4 inches.
Until the state meet, his personal record was 14 feet, 8 inches. Wood cleared 14 feet, 9 inches at the state meet to place seventh and earn a state medal.
By his senior year, he hopes to clear 17 feet. Only a sophomore competing against the state’s best, Wood said he is a little more nervous to go to state this season than he was last year.
“Nobody knew me last year,” Wood said. “There was a little more pressure this year.”
But Wood excels under pressure.
“Sam is a high-level competitor,” Dock said. “He does his best in tougher meets. When the meet is on the line, Sam performs. It’s a testament to how bad he wants to win. He works hard at everything he does.”
Wood and fellow sophomore vaulter Maggie Burita spend much time at the pole vaulting pit, and will continue this summer after the season is over.
Burita was seeded 22nd in the girls pole vault competition, clearing 9 feet, 10 inches at regionals. It was her first trip to the state meet, and she was excited for the experience.
Burita cleared 10 feet at the state meet to place 22nd.
Last season, Burita’s season ended at the regional. She enjoys practicing alongside Wood.
“We give each other tips and help each other out,” she said.
Burita also competes in several distance events and is in cross country in the fall. In the winter, she participates in running club and is in the New Era show choir.
Churubusco sent senior throwers Brayden Simmons and Garrett Horn, and vaulters Sam Wood and Maggie Burita to Bloomington this week, and several had a chance to make it to the podium.
Churubusco exited the Marion Regional, one of the toughest in the state, with three champions — a feat in itself.
“It’s a testament to how hard they work, especially for the size of Churubusco,” said head coach Zach Dock. “Competing at state is icing on the cake for a great season.”
It was Simmons’ third trip to the state finals in discus and first in shot put. Simmons won the regional with a throw of 169 feet, 4 inches, seeding him in eighth. He finished in 11th with a throw of 161 feet, 5 inches. Simmons went into the meet with a goal of placing in the top three. His personal best throw of the season could have earned him a spot on the podium, but it wasn’t in the cards this season.
Columbia City’s Liam Hesting came in 17th in discus with a throw of 153 feet, 9 inches.
Simmons was seeded 21st in shot put with his regional throw of 52 feet, 4 inches. He ended up placing 19th at state with a throw of 51 feet, 9 inches, proving that distances in throwing events change from day to day for each thrower.
Simmons stepped back from basketball last winter to focus on track, and recently signed with Oakland University in Michigan for track. Throughout his childhood, Simmons has competed in track and other sports with his friend, Garrett Horn, who threw his personal record in shot put to win the regional title.
“We’ve been buddies forever,” Simmons said. “This was our last high school sports journey together. It’s cool for us to both go.”
Horn’s throw of 54 feet, 8.75 inches seated him 10th in the state. His previous personal record was 50 feet, 10 inches.
“Everything clicked on that throw,” Horn said. “The whole week we were working on technique.”
Horn struggled in the state meet, fouling on all four of his throws. Horn will attend Wabash University to play football and compete in track.
Columbia City’s girls 3,200-meter relay team of Eden Oddou, Gabrielle Fry, Lauren Keller and Lillian Oddou finished 27th with a time of 10:00.52.