|While the Eagle Invitational's last event of the day was the very definition of team competition - the 4x400-meter relay race - it was an unassuming student-athlete who dazzled the crowd with a rousing come-from-behind win at the finish line.|
Pierce City's Robert Baldwin had already turned in a respectable effort in the meet, finishing second in the triple jump and fourth in the highjump.
But it was not until after the long shadows of Tuesday afternoon had blanketed his home stadium that this imminently modest young man rounded the final turn and electrified onlookers with a primal dash, closing a 20-yard gap to lead runner Nolan Anderson, of East Newton, overtaking him only as the two crossed the finish line side by side.
Baldwin's team time of 3:42.88 was a 10th of a second faster.
"My legs were burning," said a stunned Anderson. "I was unaware (of Baldwin) until we crossed the line."
|About as close as a finish can be, it required the full 400-meter lap for Baldwin to clip Anderson at the wire.|
The Eagles started out the race strong with Tony Martin cruising out front on the first leg, the injured freshman Cedric O'Hara holding his own in the second, and junior hurdle specialist Chance Chapman's tough pairing against a true sprinter in the third leg.
By the time Baldwin, a junior, got the baton, East Newton had built a lead of 20 yards.
Baldwin matched the pace for the first half-lap.
"I tried keeping a good pace, but it wasn't working," said an elated, but exhausted Baldwin. "So I pushed harder and gained five meters on him around the last turn. I'm gaining - but I'm about to die. But I thought, I'm might as well not stop now."
Because Baldwin made up almost all the distance on the final straightaway, the crowd's disbelief that East Newton's lead could be overcome turned into shock and awe with Pierce City's win to end the meet.
Members of the Pierce City track team streamed to the track to offer congratulations.
Balwin called it the "most fun" he'd ever had athletically, capping the double win for the Eagles as they held home ground, defeating all comers.
Boys' results: Pierce City 131 points, Jasper 98, East Newton 94, Marionville 66.5
Pierce City champions: Derek Turner, high jump (6'4"); Cody Cox, 200-meter dash (22.86); 4x400 relay team: Tony Martin, Cedric O'Hara, Chance Chapman, Robert Baldwin (3:42.88); 4x200 relay team: Jordan Saffer, Martin, O'Hara, Cox (1:33.59); and 4x100 relay team: Saffer, O'Hara, Martin, Cox (45.00).
Runners-up: Cox, 100 dash; Derek Turner, 800 run; Zach Crouch, shot put; and Robert Baldwin, triple jump.
Third place: Cedric O'Hara, 300 hurdles; Jordan Saffer, 200 dash; Chance Chapman, pole vault; and 4x800 relay team.
Verona's Cody Ernsberger was third in the 100 dash at 11.36.
Girls' results: Pierce City, 132 points, East Newton 112, Liberal 82, Miller, 56.
Pierce City champions: Kelsie Baldwin, 100-meter hurdles (16.91); Krishna Merriman, 400 run (1:02.08); Sara Stearns, shot put (33') and discus (117'); Brianna Zebert, long jump (15.25'); 4x200 relay team: Rachel Miller, Chelsey Levingston, Emily Ashley, Merriman (1:52.08); 4x100 relay team: Abby Ashley, E. Ashley, Miller, Levingston (53.10); and 4x400 relay team: Mattie Parrigon, Brianna Zebert, Merriman, E Ashley (4:28.51).
Runners-up: Mattie Parrigon, 800 run; Chelsey Levingston, long jump; and 4x800 relay team.
Third place: Emily Ashley, 100 dash; Allison Schlup, pole vault; and Levingston, triple jump.
Purdy's Mattie White was runner-up in the 300 hurdles at 58.58.