By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
PIQUA — With a regional title already locked up, Miami East’s Blaine Brokschmidt got to choose how high to go next.
“Go big or go home, right?” ended up being his decision.
The Viking senior ended up going bigger than he ever has before, clearing a personal-best 15-9 in the pole vault to win his second straight regional championship and earn a third consecutive trip to the state meet at the Division II regional track and field meet Thursday at Piqua High School.
Brokschmidt was one of three Miami County qualifiers on Thursday, as Milton-Union’s Ally Lyons advanced in the high jump and Tippecanoe’s girls 4×800 relay team held on to the final qualifying spot in its race.
With the rest of the competition bowing out after 14-2, Brokschmidt went from his winning jump of 14-6 to 15-3, setting a new PR on his second try — his old best was 15-0, though he had cleared 15-1 during indoor season. From there, Brokschmidt got to choose set his own next height.
“(Pole-vaulting coach) Roger (Bowen) was like ‘Love (Indian Valley’s Zach Love) jumped 15-8.5.’ So I said ‘you know what? 15-9,’” Brokschmidt said. “I really did. And I know there are two other guys that jumped 15-7, and I was at 15-0 so I thought I’ve got to jump big soon. I heard that and I said go 15-9. Go big or go home.”
And on his second try, he cleared the bar — and immediately upon landing rushed over to give his mother, Danelle, a hug. Brokschmidt said that he did the same thing last year after clearing 15-0 for the first time and winning his first regional title at Piqua.
“I did thing here last year, too,” Brokschmidt said. “I don’t know what it is about Piqua, but I always jump well here. I PRed by three inches here last year, and then PRed by eight inches here today. And both times, I ran straight to my mom, because she’s my biggest supporter. She’s at every meet, no matter where she is or if she has to work. She’s always there. She makes time.”
It was a high point in what has been a tough spring season for Brokschmidt, one in which he has spent more time healing than soaring.
“This is my first time jumping since districts,” Brokscmidt said. “I’ve had a couple practices where I just couldn’t do it, but I came in here fresh. I strained my hamstring in the second meet of the season — high jumping, too, not even pole vaulting — and I didn’t compete for half the season. I think this is my sixth or seventh meet this whole season.
“I’m just glad to be jumping. When I did it, I thought my career was over. I felt it pull, and I thought I was done.”
But he’s had more than that to overcome this year, too — in the fall, he had season-ending shoulder surgery early on and had to sit out the majority of football season.
Now? He’ll be going to his third state meet owning the best mark in D-II.
“The shoulder doesn’t really bother me anymore,” Brokschmidt said. “This has just been the year of injuries. The shoulder took me out of my whole senior football season. I came in and was jumping well during indoor, but to pull my hamstring in the second meet, it was really depressing. I’ve been trying and been eager to get back.
“I still can’t believe it. It still hasn’t sunk in. This is a good time to be peaking.”
Milton-Union’s Lyons is also looking to peak at the right time. The junior — already the school-record holder in the high jump at 5-3.5 — cleared 5-3 to place third Thursday and qualify for the state meet. She didn’t miss a single jump on the day until falling short of clearing 5-4.
And in the 4×800 relay, Tippecanoe’s girls team of Mackenzie Dix, Katie Taylor, Tori Prenger and Jillian Brown — which entered the day’s race seeded in the middle of the pack somewhere — took the lead halfway through the race and held on for the fourth and final qualifying spot, breaking the 10-minute mark and finishing in 9:48.4. Their seed time entering last week’s district meet had been 10:03.17 and they ran a 10:11.51 to reach the regional.
Tippecanoe’s boys 4×800 team of Bryce Conley, Patrick McCaffrey, Allan Murray and Noah Ballard also beat their time from last week’s district but fell short of qualifying for the state meet, placing sixth in 8:22.79.
Miami East’s Justin Brown also fell short of qualifying for state in the long jump, placing seventh with 21-3.25.
The rest of Thursday’s events were preliminaries, with the finals to be ran on Saturday.
Only two local runners advanced to Saturday’s finals. On the girls side, Miami East’s Gabrielle Hawkins qualified for the finals in the 400 with the fifth-best time (58.37 seconds). And on the boys side, Tippecanoe’s Jake Rowland qualified for the finals in the 300 hurdles with the eighth-best time (42.45 seconds).
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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