Between the 30- and 35-yard lines of James Sleighter Field, members of the Whiteland Community High School boys track and field team huddled Thursday night.
Some prayed while on bended knee.
However, every Warriors athlete shared the same hope.
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Eventually it was announced over the public address system that runner-up in the team standings with 121.5 points would be seventh-ranked Franklin Central.
The celebration was on.
Not only did Whiteland host the first track sectional in school history, the Warriors — ranked 18th a week ago and inexplicably unranked this week — won the program’s first track sectional with 127 points.
“The feeling is greater than anything I’ve ever accomplished,” Whiteland coach Brandon Bangel said. “Just a great moment for our kids, for our school and for our community. We had a lot of Whiteland people here to watch tonight.”
Warriors fans were treated to two of their own taking home more than one blue ribbon in juniors Djimmon Ogega and Ryder Emberton.
Ogega won his specialty, the 400-meter dash, in a time of 49.90 seconds. He closed the meet by anchoring Whiteland’s first-place 1,600 relay in 3:24.13. As if that wasn’t enough, Ogega also manufactured points for his team in the 200 (second) and long jump (sixth).
Emberton did his part by winning the discus with a best toss of 173 feet — nearly 16 feet longer than the runner-up — and the shot put with a new sectional record of 58-7.
“I’m probably prouder of what I did in the shot put,” who a year ago advanced to the State Finals in the discus. “I think I’m better at the shot than the discus this year. I just focused on it more and improved my technique.”
Senior Dalton Lowry finished third in both events for Whiteland to produce all-important points of his own.
Warriors seniors Brandon Patterson and Shaw Cloud finished third and fourth, respectively, in the 100-meter dash. Patterson ran an 11.06-second time compared to his good friend’s 11.17.
“Honestly, it’s just competition, but in this case it’s within the team,” Patterson said. “It’s not as aggressive, but it’s still competition.”
A third junior, pole vaulter Jacob Ballain, won his event by clearing 14 feet and just narrowly missing making it over 14-4.
A hamstring injury to Cloud entering the main straightaway of the 200-meter dash final added that much more suspense to the proceedings in that he was to be the third runner of the 1,600 relay.
Enter Ogega’s younger brother, Charlie, a ninth-grader.
A strong first leg from senior Jacob Walters gave way to Patterson keeping the Warriors on pace with Warren Central. Then came Charlie Ogega’s spirited 400 meters in which no ground whatsoever was lost before handing the baton to his brother.
“For a freshman with 15 minutes notice … my God, that kid’s got a great future ahead of him,” Bangel said.
Other Warriors performances included sixth in the 3,200 relay, Tyler Doty placing eighth in the high jump and sixth in the 110-meter high hurdles, Patterson’s fourth-place effort in the long jump and the 1,600 duo of senior Jared Williams (fourth) and sophomore Bailey McMahon (sixth).
Walters placed fifth in the 400 in a time of 51.96 seconds. Meanwhile, Doty and sophomore Joseph Leistner were fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 300 hurdles. David Ryan came in eighth in the 800 and Williams seventh in the 3,200.