Panthers dominate meet
PACKWOOD — Ryan Millikin was motoring around the track at Pekin High School on Monday afternoon.
This was the final leg of the 4x800 relay at the 11-team Ruritan Relays, and Millikin’s closest foe, had Millikin chosen to turn around and look, was a blur.
“Nice job, Ryan,” said Pekin head coach Davis Eidahl, when Millikin flew by on the track.
Eidahl, almost against his will, gave off an amused grin. The Panthers boss has been saying it’s too early in the season to get overly excited. On the other hand, great work is great work.
Before Millikin was handed the baton in the 4x800, Chandler Eckley had run the leadoff leg, Sam Roth followed and Isaiah Wittrock ran third.
All three were superb. No foe came close to catching any one of them.
“Chandler always gets out strong,” said Wittrock, “He gets us a good lead. Sam’s job is to maintain or pull farther ahead. I just try and keep us in first, and then Ryan will pull it away for us. As you could see, nobody was gonna catch Ryan today.”
Millikin crossed the finish line almost 38 seconds ahead of the silver-medal squad.
Post-meet, Eidahl was more liberal with his praise.
“That 4x800 team was awesome today,” he said.
Said Millikin, “My three guys ahead of me ran very well. I tried to stay on my toes the whole 800. I didn’t have to push it too hard because of my teammates.”
But push it he did. The quartet’s time of 8:36.50, especially considering the cold, wet conditions, raised the eyebrows of several opposing head coaches.
Eckley, Roth, Wittrock and Millikin have one goal in the 4x800: a championship at the Iowa State Meet.
“That is the goal,” Millikin said. “And we’ll all be disappointed if we don’t get it.
“It was a cold meet today. But I thought our whole team competed very well.”
They certainly did.
Pekin won 15 of the 19 events it entered and easily took the overall team championship.
Panther Dayne Eckley won the 100-meter dash and teammate Zach Conger won the 400 and high jump.
Also for Pekin, Trevor Northup won the shot put, Slater Williams took first in the discus, Levi Long won the 400-meter hurdles, Millikin won the 1,600-meter run and Chandler Eckley took gold in the 800.
Panther Malcolm Myers breezed to a title in the 3,200-meter run. Myers led wire to wire.
“I always try to get out pretty fast,” Myers said. “I want to set my pace early and keep going.”
In the 4x100 and 4x200, Pekin took gold. In both relays, Monico Requena served as anchor for Tyler Copeland, Long and Chase Eckley.
“We’re practicing very hard,” Requena said. “Running isn’t all that much fun to practice. But Coach Eidahl somehow keeps it all fun.”
Winning the medley distance for Pekin on Monday was Keaton Baayen, Chase Eckley, Roth and Millikin.
“This was a nice overall performance by our whole team for our first outdoor meet of the season,” Eidahl said. “We’re not pushing things too much yet. But I can see we have good depth — and I see good things ahead for our guys.”