Strickland-led St. Al has quality, not quantity at state

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 10, 2001

[05/10/01] It’s been a little over a year since St. Aloysius’ Michael Strickland finished second in the Class 1A 400-meter finals.

One year and four days, to be exact; 369 days; 8,900 hours.

It’s possible to count the time that has elapsed since the end of the race, but it’s harder to fathom the amount of time that decided it 1/100th of a second.

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In less time than it takes to blink, Strickland finished behind Biggersville’s Torrey Patterson. Strickland made up nearly 10 yards in the last 100, but was a toenail too late. He has worked this season to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“It’s bothered me a little bit,” said Strickland, who enters Friday’s Class 1A state meet at Jackson’s Hughes Field as the South State champion in the 400.

That’s about as much as you’ll get out of him on the subject, however. Strickland is St. Al’s best hope for an individual state championship this year, but he is a quiet force who would rather let his running do the talking.

“He’s probably the gutsiest kid I’ve had in a long time. He’s never satisfied with anything but his best,” St. Al coach Jimmy Salmon said.

Strickland’s best would go a long way toward helping the Flashes creep up in the team standings, as well. St. Al is short on numbers only four athletes in individual events and one relay team but the team more than makes up for it with quality.

Led by Strickland’s win in the 400, as well as second-place finishes by Mack Henry in the 3,200 and 1,600, St. Al finished fourth at the South State meet.

Strickland also qualified for the state meet in the 200 and Henry in the 800, leading Salmon to believe that a top-10 finish isn’t out of the question.

“I expect us to score a few points. I expect us to do well in every event we’re in,” Salmon said. “I would like to finish in the top eight, and the top five if we could.”

It may also depend on Vincent Banchetti. A key member of the 4×400 relay team, he pulled a hip muscle during the 200 at South State.

“I think our 1,600 relay team ought to place in the top three, if everybody runs,” Strickland said. “We needed (Banchetti) to win … .”

St. Al should also pick up some points from pole vaulters Kelly Sadler and Austin Golding.

At last year’s state meet, only two vaulters competed. Mize’s Andrew Guest won the state title by clearing only 9 feet.

“They’ve started from scratch, and now they’re clearing 9 feet, 9-foot-6,” Salmon said.

Bethany Connor was the lone Lady Flash to qualify for the state meet, finishing second in the discus at South State.