VALPARAISO — In his first three years, Jacob Corbett couldn’t break through the wall that is advancing to the track state meet.
With a little boost from some Swedish Fish candy, the New Prairie senior finally punched his ticket to the state finals two-fold after winning the 1,600 and 3,200 meters at Thursday’s Valparaiso Regional.
“I felt good in the mile and was a little iffy about halfway through the two-mile and I pulled that out of nowhere, that was tough,” Corbett said. “I had some Swedish Fish for sugar after the mile and that restored my energy a little bit. Swedish Fish all the way, man.”
Behind a strong finishing kick in both races, Corbett edged Highland’s Lucas Guerra in the mile, clocking in at 4 minutes, 17.09 seconds and then did the same with La Porte’s Mitchell Gits in the two-mile, posting a 9:30.85.
“That last 100 meters or so, I’ve been trying to do that all postseason, just stick on the guy and kick ahead at the end, it’s worked well so far,” Corbett said.
While there was thought about scratching in the mile, Corbett’s glad he didn’t.
“We decided that I ran a good time in both at sectionals and we just pushed and it worked out, so I’m happy with it,” he said. “I was ready to go, no apprehension about it.”
Michigan City swept the throws with Justin Wozniak throwing 167 feet, seven inches in the discus, and Ryan Stefanko tossing 55-5 ¼ in the shot put.
After a personal-record heave of 59-9 ¾ at sectionals, Stefanko was hoping to best that number, but now turns that hope to the state meet.
“I left pretty disappointed with 55-whatever because it’s not gonna get me where I need to be at state, but I was still regional champ, so I can’t really be mad at that,” Stefanko said. “Technique wasn’t feeling too great, but there’s no excuses. I’ll take it easy and get my body fully ready.
“I know I have 60-plus in me at state.”
Like Stefanko, Wozniak is looking to exceed a personal best at state, his being 173-3 in the discus.
“(Thursday) was one of those throws that I’ll take, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t terrible,” Wozniak said. “I know that won’t get the job done at state and I’m definitely not planning on throwing that at state. I know with a good week of practice, I’ll be ready.”
For Gits, it was a tough way to lose the 3,200, but he felt he ran his race in clocking 9:31.18.
“I clung on to the front back the whole time and from there I had a little bit of wind with me before I tried to pick it up in the last lap,” he said. “I started my push really early, Corbett clung on, kept his distance and he’s just always really good in those last 100 meters. I think I executed about as well as I really could have and wanted to.”
Slicers senior Evan Nelson automatically qualified in the high jump, clearing 6-4 1/2 to earn fourth, crushing his previous PR by two and-a-half inches.
“I knew it could be my last meet as a senior and I knew on my third attempt that I needed to clear it or my season ends,” Nelson said. “The second my foot hits the mark when I’m going up to jump, everything goes blank and it’s just me going over the bar. It was pure excitement, I almost couldn’t believe it.
“I hit the mat and the bar was still up and I really didn’t know what to do.”
Merrillville captured the team title with 71 points.