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Packer boys track team gets solid performances in first place finish

Jacob Bentley wasn’t trying to show off, he just couldn’t contain himself.

Bentley, a senior runner for the Austin boys track and field team, started a home track and field meet off by turning some heads when he ran the first 400-meters on the first leg of the 4 x 800-meter relay in 52 seconds.

“I came in too fast. I died the second lap, but we came in with a good time.,” Bentley said.

That 4 x 800 meter relay team, which also included Christian Folken, Jacob Larson, and Tim Erickson, ended up winning by 30 seconds and the race was one of nine events Austin would win as it took first place in a triangular that included Albert Lea and Mankato East at Larry Gilbertson Track Tuesday.

If Bentley, who also got the first place 4 x 400 meter relay team off to a solid start, was over-excited, it would be tough to blame him. He had missed the last two weeks of running with eight stitches in his knee and he wasn’t feeling any pain on Tuesday.

“He’s a tough kid and you wouldn’t have guessed he was in stitches recently,” Austin head coach Tony Einertson said. “He’s got a heart of gold.”

Austin senior Will Darling provided another highlight when he cruised through the 300-meter hurdles with a personal best time of 39.11 seconds. That time was over six-tenths of a second faster than the previous career-best for Darling, who has been to state twice.

“I felt more confident over the last three hurdles, because usually I have to jump really high on them because I’m so tired. This time I just stayed focused and was able to keep my speed the same,” Darling said. “It’s a confidence booster that I know that the speed’s there and I just have to convince myself to run it. I was kind of feeling like my race last week (40.31) wasn’t good enough for later on in the season.”

Einertson was so excited by Darling’s performance that he let out a yell from the press box to his hurdler.

“Will had a heck of a meet,” Einertson said. “He looked as smoothe as he’s ever looked on the last three hurdles (of the 300). You knew down the stretch that something was going on that was going to be pretty good.”

Darling also won the 100-meter dash, a race he’s run only twice in the last two years. But he wasn’t stressing it and neither were any of his teammates.

“We all have fun in track,” Darling said. “One of the things is you can get pressure on you and that doesn’t help. As long as you keep the mood light and still work hard, it’s pretty easy to do your best.”

After winning two meets to start the season, Bentley said the Packers are embracing the role as favorites.

“There’s a lot of pressure being in that position. But it’s fun to go into a meet knowing you have something to strive for and you can get even better,” he said. “We’ve had so much improvement this year. Throws haven’t been a big thing on our team for a long time and it’s awesome to see them getting firsts.”

Austin’s Joe Diggins won the discus shot put and Tyler Bentzin won the discus Tuesday.

AUSTIN RESULTS

4 x 800-meter relay: Jacob Bentley, Christian Folken, Jacob Larson, Tim Erickson (first, 8:06.94)

110-meter hurdles: Cole Adams (fifth, 19.43)

100-meter dash: Will Darling (first, 11.30); Mike Hirsch (second, 11.56); Max Gillen (fourth, 12.04)

4 x 200-meter relay: Will Darling, Max Gillen, Cole Adams, Mike Hirsch (first, 1:32.83)

1600-meter run: Zach Fadness (second, 5:00.89); Ben Bachmeier (second, 5:01.18); Abajado Ojull (fourth, 5:02.36)

4 x 100-meter relay: Miles Edwards, Francisco Torres, Tyler Bentzin, Gavin Spieker (first, 47.99)

400-meter dash: Henry Darling (first, 50.62); Jacob Bentley (second, 52.06); Jordan Bentley (fifth, 56.12)

300-meter hurdles: Will Darling (first, 39.11)

800-meter run: Tim Erickson (first, 2:01.13); Jacob Larson (third, 2:07.61); Zach Rausch (fourth, 2:10.40)

200-meter dash: Gavin Spieker (fifth, 25.45)

3200-meter run: Christian Folken (second, 10:34.99); Zach Fadness (fourth, 11:05.13)

4 x 400-meter relay: Jordan Bentley, Mike Hirsch, Max Gillen, Henry Darling (first, 3:26.70)

Long jump: Mike Hirsch (second, 19-7.75); Jacob Maxfield (sixth, 18-3)

Triple jump: Jeff Davis (second, 40-8.5); Cole Adams (third, 40-1)

Pole vault: Howie Underwood (third, 11-0)

Shot put: Joe Diggins (first, 46-8.75); Tyler Bentzin (third, 40-4.25); Thomas Herrera (fourth, 39-7.5)

Discus: Tyler Bentzin (first, 125-01); Thomas Herrera (fourth, 104-5); Shayne Figliola (fifth, 104-2)

TEAM SCORES

1. Austin 87

2. Mankato West 65

3. Albert Lea 31