Sunday, June 7, 2015

Jeff wins Unified state track championship

Source: Journal & Courier   Story: Sam King   Photo: Sam King


BLOOMINGTON – For more than 40 years, Dave Howell sought a state championship.
On Saturday afternoon, the longtime Lafayette Jeff coach felt that thrill and the manner in which it happened far surpassed what he'd imagined the moment to be like.
Resigning after 41 years as the Jeff cross country coach in the fall, Howell coached the Broncho Unified track and field team in its inaugural season, which ended by raising the IHSAA state championship trophy at Indiana University's Robert C. Haugh Complex.
"This is something they will never forget the rest of their lives and that's what it's all about," Howell said. "These kids have so much in perspective. They just want to come out and have fun."
Warsaw won the first Unified state track title a year ago.
At last season's state finals, Howell inquired about Unified track, which partners high school students with and without intellectual disabilities to compete in a sanctioned IHSAA sport. West Lafayette finished second in the state finals last season and has since introduced the sport to Lafayette Jeff and Harrison.
"I've got to thank (coach) David Joest at West Lafayette," Howell said. "They are the ones that told me about this and got us started. Without them getting us started, this wouldn't happen."
Scoring is kept by heat in five events: the 100, 400, 400 relay, long jump and shot put. Champions are awarded by flight rather than event.
Last week, Lafayette Jeff finished second to Kokomo in the sectional. On Saturday, the Bronchos did one better.
"It's awesome," said sophomore Sierra Martin, who competed in the shot put and 400 relay. "This is really fun. We like coming out here and winning races."
Chris Lamberg and Lexi Seymour won individual championships in their flight, each scoring 10 points for the Bronchos, who edged runner-up Kokomo for the team title.
Lafayette Jeff team members include Robert Brown, Michael Brummett, Alicia Clayton, Alex Gray, Kaline Harden, Sara Hipsher, Kody Isenberg, Lucas McCalment, Mathew McCalment, Sylvia Mueller, Scotlyn Sunkel, Lamberg, Martin and Seymour.
Together, that group accomplished the ultimate thrill, showcased by the smiles none could seem to wipe from their faces on Saturday.
"I am happy for the school, for Lafayette Jeff," Howell said. "We have a special needs program and these teachers love these kids. This feels good."

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