For the first time in his three-year career, Tippecanoe High School junior Bryce Conley is healthy at the end of the track season.
A stress fracture slowed down the Red Devils distance standout last year. This season he’s applying the pressure.
“A stress fracture is not fun at all. I never had a chance to do anything,” Conley said following his 3,200-meter victory at the Division II district track and field meet Saturday. “Running out there and competing is a lot harder when you have that stress fracture. It’s just another pain to worry about.”
»RELATED: Saturday’s high school scoreboard
Conley won the 3,200 in 10:03.90 for a 9.27-second victory over Greenon junior Gavin Patrick. Conley now enters the D-II regional meet with the fourth fastest qualifying time from the four district meets.
“The first couple laps I was thinking maybe I can break the district record,” Conley said of the 9:27.23 set by Carroll’s Mike Laughlin in 2017. “I was like, nah, it’s a little too hot for that. No point in wasting myself.”
Saturday’s temperatures in the mid-80s were a sharp uptick from the cooler temperatures earlier in the week. Conley said the higher temps affected his breathing so he backed off. That might not be the case next week. His goal is somewhere in the 9:30s.
“Just making it to state is all I really need to worry about. But it’d be nice to have a title,” Conley said.
Conley finished fourth at the district meet in 2018 in 9:51.71.
“I feel way more confident than I did last year,” Conley said. “This is the first track season I’ve been healthy. Hopefully I can do out there and do something.”
Tipp senior teammate Katie Taylor added to Tipp’s distance success Saturday by winning the 1,600 and finishing second in the 3,200 to also advance to the regional meet. The top four finishers in each event qualified.
“I wasn’t really going for a district title. I was just going to qualify,” Taylor said of winning the 1,600 in 5:28.05. “I felt good which surprised me in this heat. I just went for it.
“I was checking around to see who was near me to see if I needed to go all out. It’s always great to have another title but it wasn’t exactly what I was going for. But I’ll take it.”
Taylor finished second in the 3,200 in 12:21.35, trailing only Springfield Shawnee junior Olivia Warax’s 11:34.87. She qualified for the regional meet in both events last season, but dropped the 1,600 to concentrate on the 3,200. She’ll wait and see times from the other districts to determine what she’ll choose for regional.
Both Conley and Taylor have competed for the Red Devils at the cross country state championships. Running on that big stage has helped with the nerves at regional. They hope it does again.
“Our cross country program is what makes our distance program so good,” Taylor said. “Our coach (Byron Kimmel) is a middle school teacher so even in middle school he’s recruiting the kids to come out for cross country.”
Also on Saturday at Graham:
Carroll’s Mackenzie Donaldson, Taylor Smith, Ava Lickliter and Amelia Harlow won the girls’ 800 relay. Lickliter, Alaina Casey, Meghan Schrand and Smith won the 1,600 relay. Teammate Breana Devillier won the pole vault.
Brookville’s Tommy Dafler, Justin Bland, Kyle Miller and Paul Takhar won the boys 3,200. Alaina Good won the girls shot put.
Milton-Union’s Morgan Grudich won the girls long jump, Ally Lyons won the high jump and Kristen Dickison the 800 run.
Miami East’s Justin Brown won the boys long jump and Blaine Brokschmidt the pole vault.
Eaton’s Alex Newport won the boys’ 1,600 run.
Anna’s Hannah Shoemaker won the 100 and 300 hurdles, Alex Bruggaman the 110 hurdles, Colton Nanik the 300 hurdles. In the relays, Bruggaman, Derek Arling, Bart Bixler and Jeffrey Richards won the 800. Bruggaman, Richards, Riley Huelskamp and Ian Bollheimer won the 400.
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