BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – For two consecutive years, Mother Nature was the big winner at the Kokomo Relays, washing out the event with heavy rains. But when the 94th annual edition kicked off in 2018, the sun was shining and records were falling on the new Walter Cross Field track surface. One of the records that fell was the girls team score as Noblesville cruised to its fourth Kokomo Relays title with 173 points, easily outscoring runners-up Northwestern’s 114. Crown Point captured its fifth consecutive boys title with 137.33 points.
Kokomo sophomore Tionna Brown showed how fast the new Beynon track is when she posted a 12.15 in the 100-meter dash preliminaries. She then set a new Kokomo Relays record with an 11.87 run in the finals. The previous record was set by Howard County Hall of Fame member and former Lady Kat Lashonda Davis in 2003 (12.24). Joan Easter of Northwestern placed second with a time of 12.93.
Western’s Tyler Gilbert also blistered a Kokomo Relays record. Throwing on the newly relocated discus arena, the defending IHSAA state champion launched a toss of 183-01, which was the longest of his career. He reset the discus 30-year old record previously held by Fort Wayne Snider’s Tony Luenberger (180-07). The record-breaking toss also garnered Gilbert the Sports Journal/Coca-Cola of Kokomo Player of the Meet and the prestigious Walter Cross Award, presented by the Kokomo Tribune to the most outstanding performer at the Kokomo Relays.
Shelby Tyler of Noblesville set the final Kokomo Relays record with a jump of 5-8 in the high jump. She also won the pole vault (9-6) and was a member of two winning relay teams. She earned the Walter Cross Award for the most outstanding female.
Northwestern took the top two spots in the girls long jump as Easter had a winning leap of 16-2.75 and Hope Braun followed at 16.1.5. Lady Tiger Jaimy Lalonde also captured a Kokomo Relays championship medal with a throw of 34-1.75 in the shot put.
Boys team standings: Crown Point, Noblesville (97), Chesterton (88), Mount Vernon (69), Kokomo (64), Ben Davis (37), Western (32) and Northwestern (19.67). Girls team standings: Noblesville, Northwestern, Warsaw (86), Mount Vernon (58), Kokomo (39), Chesterton (38) and Western (13).
The Kokomo Relays are one of the most prestigious track and field events in the state and are billed as “The oldest continuous high school track meet in the United States.” Chet Hill started the Kokomo Relays on May 2, 1925.