A year after feeling the agony of defeat at the state track meet, Mount Gilead’s Austin Hallabrin was able to experience the thrill of victory in his senior year.
Hallabrin has had some negative experiences at the state meet, finishing ninth in the 1600 as a sophomore in a race where he lost a shoe. Last year, also in the 1600, he seemingly placed second, but was disqualified for interfering with another runner. However, he was able to erase all of that in under two minutes on Saturday.
Running in the 800, the Indian senior jumped out to an early lead and never relinquished it, claiming first place in a blistering 1:52.54 — a time that stood as the fastest 800-meter run time of the day, regardless of division.
“Honestly, I didn’t feel anything the whole race,” he said. “I just went out there and ran. The fast part came from God; it always has and always will.”
During the race, if Hallabrin was bothered by anything, it was simply not knowing if anyone else was going to mount a challenge. He held a substantial lead for most of the reason and finished over a second in front of his nearest competition.
“All that first lap, I was waiting for people to get up there with me,” he said. “I was expecting competition and people to run with and even today I didn’t really have that, but I knew people were back there to push me.”
Even though that competition never manifested, Hallabrin had no shortage of inspiration to push through the final lap in his final state track meet. “I just went for it,” he said. “I always go 110 percent at state no matter how i feel.”
Northmor’s Demetrius Johnson also put 2016 in the rearview mirror with his second state championship in the long jump. Johnson won the event as a freshman, but was unable to reach the finals in his trip to Jesse Owens Stadium last year.
This time, he had the best leap after his three preliminary jumps (22’6”) and improved upon that in the finals, finishing with a first-place attempt of 22’10.25”. He finished nearly eight inches better than his closest competition.
“It feels pretty good,” he said. “I knew my final jump felt pretty good. I’ve been jumping pretty consistent and I was hoping to get a 23’.
Mount Gilead also placed in two other events. For the second straight year, Olivia Brewer placed third in the 100. As a senior, she qualified sixth out of Friday’s preliminary heats, but was able to run the race in 12.43 Saturday to take third in her final high school race. Brewer felt the improvement came from simply only having the 100 to run that day. On Friday, she competed in the prelims of two other events.
“I think only having one race to worry about rather than three helped, but I just felt better today,” she said. “I just try to go one race at a time, but I always worry about what if I don’t make it.”
Brewer also was 13th in the prelims of the 200 in 26.28 and ran with Jessica Brewer, Bridgette Millisor and Corrin Watts in the prelims of the 800-meter relay, where they were 14th in 1:50.97. One of the highlights of this season for the MG senior was being able to run track with her sister, Jessica, a freshman.
“It’s kind of bittersweet it’s over,” she said. “I’m going to miss running with her a lot.”
The two sisters shared a memorable postseason. In the league meet, Olivia finished first in both the 100 and 200, while Jessica was second in both. They also were part of the winning 400- and 800-meter relays as they helped the Lady Indians earn a team title.
“It was a day we’ll always remember together — it was so cool,” said Olivia of that experience.
From there, Olivia qualified for regionals in all four of those events and advanced to state in three. Jessica moved to regionals in three and was part of the 800-meter relay in the state meet. Being able to compete in the state meet with her sister was just another positive for Olivia.
“It was really cool and meant a lot for both of us,” said Olivia. “I kind of had to keep her nerves under control, so she wouldn’t get too freaked out.”
Also placing for Mount Gilead was the 3200-meter relay of Nicholas Weiss, Brandon Stevens, Casey White and Hallabrin. They fought through a slow start to move up through the ranks to eighth place in 8:12.33.
White gave Hallabrin a lot of the credit for the team placing in the event.
“I think it was Austin and his strong competitiveness,” he said. “He’s been here multiple times and he contributed a lot of getting us in podium range. That was a big factor in it.”
While Hallabrin didn’t think the team ran their best race, he felt they competed hard.
“I think everyone on the team was feeling a little rough today,” he said. “All our times were a second or two slower. I think it was really hard to get motivated, but we all mostly did our best.”
Stevens, Weiss and Hallabrin also ran with Liam Dennis in the 1600 relay. They advanced to the finals, but finished ninth in 3:29.09 to barely miss out on placement. Stevens competed in the prelims of the 400 and finished 15th in 52.17. Also, Jonah Barnett ran in the 200 and took 11th place in the prelims in 22.72.
For Northmor on Friday, hurdler Kolton Smith finished the Division III hurdles in 15.17 seconds, but did not advance. Knights’ teammate James Walker would race in the 300-meter hurdles later on in the morning and finished in 41.10 seconds, 13th overall. Walker cleared 5 feet, 10 inches in the high jump on Friday afternoon, but did not place. The Knights’ 4×400 relay team of Johnson, Walker, Calvin Komer and Alec Moore had the 13th best time in Friday’s prelims at 3:28.53, but failed to advance.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS