Isaac Pacheco continues to bring home medals for the young North Murray track and field program.
For the second time in as many days and the third time in two years, the Mountaineers junior garnered a top-five finish in the biggest meet of the season.
Pacheco finished fourth in the 3,200-meter run Friday at the Class 2A state meet in Jefferson, completing the race in 9 minutes, 53 seconds and just missing out on cracking the top three by a split second.
The finish came one day after he was in the 1,600.
Bishop said he is proud of Pacheco, not for his finish but for the hard work he has shown and will continue to show with his senior year still to come.
“He didn’t have to finish in the top 10 for me to have been proud of him just because of the work ethic he puts in,” Bishop said. “He’s always there on the track. He doesn’t miss a day. His motto is, ‘No excuses and no days off.’ He works all the time.”
East Jackson’s Cale Pirtle (9:45) won the 3,200 title for 2A, and he was followed by Westminster’s Jordan Flowers (9:46) and Model’s Chris Akins (9:53).
Pacheco placed fifth in the 3,200 at last year’s state meet, and he owns the most individual state medals of any North Murray track and field athlete in the school’s three-year existence.
A number of Class 3A and 4A area athletes were competing in preliminary events Friday in Jefferson with hopes of qualifying for today’s events, but none were successful. The top eight finishers in the preliminaries advanced to today’s competition.
Northwest Whitfield’s Cliff Phillips finished 10th in the 400 with a time of 50.07 and was 16th in the 200 with a time of 23.08. He ended his day by teaming with Chris Hull, Jalen Lockett and Kailend Wilkins in the 4x400 relay, where there 3:27 was good for 15th.
“It was pretty close (in the 400),” Bruins coach Greg Brown said. “He finished fifth in his heat, and you have to get in the top four. We didn’t get anyone making it to tomorrow, but I’m glad that we made it this far, so I’m not disappointed.”
Brown said he is proud of Phillips, a senior who broke two school records in his high school career.
“It might not have ended the way he wanted it to end, but he set the standard for what a Northwest Whitfield track athlete is supposed to be about,” Brown said.
In Class 3A, Murray County’s Nathan Phillips had a heartbreaking end to his senior season. Phillips had a chance to qualify for the 300 hurdles but finished 16th with a time of 45.30 after tripping over the fifth hurdle.
“He was running really well,” Indians coach Sam Young said. “I think he was in second place. I’m not sure what happened, and he didn’t know either, but that’s just the way it goes. I really hate it for him. He’s really worked hard.”
Young said he does not know whether Phillips would have likely cracked the top four in his heat, but he only had three more hurdles left and was entering “his strong point.”
“He had a great season, a great career. He won region, finished sixth in sectionals and set a new school record, so what can you say.”
• Christian Heritage 3, Brookwood 2: The Lions didn’t have many hits against Brookwood’s left-handed starter, but they had enough runs to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three series in the second round of the GISA Class 2A state playoffs in Thomasville.
Region 3 champion Brookwood (24-4) took the game’s first lead in the second inning, getting two runs off of passed balls, and held that 2-0 edge until the fifth. In that inning, Wesley Sheppard — he was pinch-running for Michael McKinney, who had drawn a leadoff walk — scored on Pate Duddleston’s sacrifice fly.
The Lions (18-6) tied and went ahead in the seventh. Chase Kranzlein singled and stole second base before McKinney drew a walk, but Kranzlein was thrown out at third on Tre Mason’s sacrifice bunt attempt. Mason reached first, though, and pinch-runner Sheppard went to second, later scoring on Nich Bartley’s single. Mason put the Lions ahead when he scored on Trevor Brown’s sac fly.
The Warriors outhit Christian Heritage 9-3, but McKinney was solid enough on the mound to pick up the win. In the seventh, he held on to his lead despite giving up a one-out hit and seeing the runner advance to second on a passed ball.
Lions coach Noah Stokes said shortstop Ian Robbins made a nice catc for the second out, tracking down a popup in “no-man’s land” behind third base, and center fielder Pate Duddleston followed with another good defensive play. When the next Brookwood batter singled to center, Duddleston threw home to get the third out as the runner tried to score from second base.
The Lions, the No. 2 seed from Region 4, will play again at noon today in Thomasville and look to wrap up a spot in next weekend’s semifinals, a round they last reached in 2009. If necessary, the series’ third game will follow the conclusion of the second today.
“You always want to get that first one, but we haven’t won anything yet,” Stokes said. “... We’re trying to calm our emotions and realize that we haven’t won anything yet, but it certainly feels good to be up 1-0 on the road.”
McKinney, who went all seven innings, had five strikeouts and no walks. In addition to keeping the Warriors off the scoreboard in the seventh, he avoided any damage in the sixth, when Brookwood had a leadoff double and the runner reached third on a passed ball with no outs.
Brady Souther will start on the mound for the Lions in today’s first game, and the Game 3 starter would be a game-time decision.