SENECA -- After winning the Interstate Eight Conference boys track and field championship in 2013 and 2014, the Sandwich Indians have had to watch the Seneca Fighting Irish hoist the league's title trophy the last three consecutive seasons.
That, however, came to an end Thursday evening when the Indians provided a solid overall performance to win the conference crown once again, putting up a championship total of 119 points, well ahead of second-place Herscher (86) here at Seneca High School.
The Irish placed fifth with 81 tallies, a mere one point ahead of Streator which recorded 80 markers for a sixth-place team finish.
Sandwich recorded 11 all-conference performances including three championships, five second placings and a trio of thirds that helped secure the title. Seneca registered six with two firsts, two seconds and a third, while Streator notched five with a pair of crowns, a second-place finish and a couple of thirds.
But it was the Indians' night to shine getting back in the I-8 winners' circle.
"It feels really good, and I've been talking to the guys all season that this would be a possibility," said Sandwich leader Garrett Ryan, who is coaching his last season. "If you look across the board we outperformed almost everywhere we were supposed to, and that's a hallmark of a good team. I told the boys … I was living vicariously through them tonight in my last year as head coach at Sandwich. It feels really great to get it done."
The Indians started off strong in the field events, where senior Levi Franklin won the discus with a throw of 151 feet, 8 inches. Senior Derek Murphy added his second straight I-8 title in the shot put with a toss of 48-9 1/2.
"I didn't like my first few throws … and it was kind of getting in my head, but finally I went for it on my final throw," Murphy said. "Back-to-back I-8 championships is a pretty nice accomplishment for me."
Junior Dylan Baumbach provided the other of the trio of titles by winning the 400 with a clocking of 52.02 seconds.
"It felt awesome for me to win and help my team get the conference title," Baumbach said. "I ran my own race and was able to win the championship. I'm pretty proud right now."
Sandwich runner-up placings came from the 400 meter relay team of Baumbach, Seth Randa, Max Pinkowski and Sam Brunoehler (44.73), Randa in the 300 hurdles (41.37), the 1600 relay squad of Baumbach, Randa, Brunoehler and Jayden McCluskie (3:31.75), Pinkowski in the triple jump (42-5), and McCluskie in the high jump (5-10).
For the second year in a row, Christopher Collet recorded championships for Seneca in the 3200 (9:55.81) and 1600 (4:46.03), giving the Irish their lone pair of titles.
"Two years in a row for me winning both races is definitely a treat," Collet said. "Being able to win against such a talented field in both races is an honor for me, especially knowing this is Seneca's last year in the I-8."
The Irish's two runner-up performances came from Ben Krause in the 800 (2:11.02) and Owen Barnett in the 400 (52.32).
For Streator , Adrian Jones led the way. Jones won the 800 (2:10.11) while anchoring the championship 3200 relay team with Tre Bowman, Danny Rodriquez and Rafael Pantoja (8:36.64), where Jones closed out from behind down the stretch to nip his opponent at the wire.
"My legs started to tie up, but I knew I had to stay with the kid from Reed-Custer," Jones said. "I saw a gap opening going to the finish, so I knew I had to kick it in. It was very exciting for me and for us to get the win."
The Bulldogs' lone runner-up performance came from Tre Rathbun in the long jump (20-11).