Riverside-Brookfield High School sophomore Luke Smithing won his track and field battle of nerves on April 9.
He has two championship medals as proof.
As the top seed in both hurdles races, Smithing won the 110-meter high hurdles in a personal-best 17.42 seconds and the 300 intermediate hurdles (44.39) at RBHS’ 51st Annual Gary Johnson Bulldog Relays. He also had another personal best for third in triple jump (11.08 meters/36 feet-4¼ inches).
“It was awesome. I think it was definitely my best [meet],” Smithing said. “It felt really good and relieving to win both [hurdles] because I was really worried I was going to mess it up. I was supposed to win both because of my [seed] times, but I was worried I was going to run slower. It makes me really happy, honestly.”
The Bulldogs finished second overall in the team standings to Jacobs High School. Senior Paul Proteau won the 3,200 (10:03.19) and anchored the winning varsity 1,600 sprint medley relay (200-200-400-800) with seniors James Dalton, Matt Agnew and Hector Velazquez (3:48.55).
Taking second were sophomore Muhammad Salem (3.20m/10-6 in pole vault), freshman Brady Norman (3,200 in 10:23.70); the sophomore 1,600 relay of Eamon Ryan, William Kallas, Brennan Lester and Carlos Miranda (3:57.95); the freshman 1,600 relay of Wayne Torrens, Norman, Abraham Smith-Ray and Asa Kahle (3:59.57); the sophomore 800 sprint medley relay (100-100-200-400) of Salem, sophomores Luke Kumskis and David Kummer and freshman Isaac Arcos (1:44.47); and the sophomore 1,600 sprint medley relay of sophomore Eamon Ryan, freshman Wayne Torrens, Kummer and Arcos (4:07.45).
Sophomore Jack O’Brien (1,600 in 4:34.40) and the varsity 1,600 relay of Dalton, senior Andolini Escamilla, Arcos and Proteau (3:40.82) were third.
As a freshman, Smithing thought he would be a high jumper. He was thrown into a hurdles race, did well and never looked back. He finished fourth at sectionals in the 300 hurdles (44.24).
“I’m hoping to go to state this year. I’m hoping to get first or second (at sectionals),” Smithing said.
In the girls 41st Annual Bulldog Relays, RBHS junior Ava Connerty clipped and knocked over hurdles, but persevered twice.
RBHS girls place third
She not only finished second in the 100 high hurdles (18.36) and 300 low hurdles (52.25) but did so with personal-best times. The Bulldogs finished third overall in the team standings.
“It’s really fun, especially at home,” Connerty said. “I wish I could have done better but I’m still really happy with how I did.”
Senior Remy Hilpp (2.28m/7-6 in pole vault) and the varsity 3,200 relay of junior Bryce Pacourek, sophomores Maria Nelson and Lily Kocourek and freshman Gianna Gelb (10:56.88) also placed second.
In strong distance fields, sophomore Maria Dalton was fifth in the 3,200 (13:12.84) and Pacourek sixth in the 1,600 (5:53.38).
In the Bulldogs’ outdoor season debut, Connerty already is well ahead of last season, when she was an all-conference third in the 100 hurdles (19.43). Junior Joaliz Rodriguez’s third place in the 300 hurdles (52.70) was nearly a seven-second improvement from 2021.
“[I’m] just getting faster, making sure my steps between the hurdles are getting shorter, and [improving] my form, which has definitely been getting a lot better,” Connerty said.