By Lenny Padilla
Justin Freeman's neck might have been sore from the weight of all the first-place medals that he was wearing on Friday afternoon.
The Hope College sprinter put on one of the single greatest performance by a sprinter in school and conference history on Friday at the MIAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which were hosted by Hope at Brewer Track.
The senior from Holland, Michigan (West Ottawa HS) finished first in the 100 meters (10.56), 200 meters (21.32) and in the 400 relay (41.83).
His times in the 100 and 200 are school records and the 200 time is the best in MIAA history.
"I knew I had a great opportunity today," Freeman said. "But I never thought I'd set the 200 record like that. I was very surprised. I knew we could do a lot today. The relay came up big. I wanted to finish it out with my guys."
Photo of Justin Freeman, at right, by Lynne Powe
Freeman helped the Flying Dutchmen placed third overall with 130.5 points and place 1.5 points ahead of fourth-place Albion College. Calvin College (180), while Trine University (137.5) was runner-up.
Freeman ran the 400 relay with junior Korey Derr of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Northview HS), sophomore David Clark of Sterling Heights, Michigan (Adlai Stevenson) and junior Adam Howard of Jacksonville, Illinois (Routt Catholic).
"It was really fun to see," Hope coach Kevin Cole said of Freeman. "With sprinters, you're always dealing with injuries. But for him, things came together at the right time. He's wanted this for a long time. To obliterate our school records like that was pretty impressive."
Josh Izenbart, pictured at left, helped pile up the points for Hope, too.
The junior from Glenwood, Illinois (Homewood Flossmoor) won the javelin and wracked up 26 points by himself. He finished third in the high jump (6-04 / 1.95m), third in the 110 hurdles (15.42) and fifth in the 400 hurdles (58.66).
"It was a good performance," Izenbart said of the javelin. "I struggled in the beginning because I had to run over from high jump and throw my first three for prelims. But in the finals, I felt good on the last throw."
Izenbart was most excited about the third-place finish in the 110 hurdles.
"That was the best race of my life," he said. "It was a PR. I was pulled along by the guys who finished first and second. They are unreal athletes. That was a lot of fun. I don't think they were as excited as I was to finish third as they were to finish first and second."
Nick Hoffman, a freshman from Holland, Michigan (Holland HS), finished second in the 1,500 in 4:01.49.
"I knew that If I was patient out there that I would have a good shot at placing pretty well," Hoffman said. "I wanted to win, but some days you take second place. My season best was a 4:00. Today was pretty good and it gives me more confidence in my fitness."
Junior Owen Ljung of Sonoma, California (Sonoma Valley) was MIAA runner-up in the 800 (1:54.18),
Other top finishes for Hope: Tucker Gibbons of Fowlerville, Michigan (Fowlerville) fourth in the 400 hurdles (57.30); Brandon Maurice of Howell, New Jersey (Howell) fourth in the high jump (6-04.75 / 1.95m) behind Izenbart; Collin Thomas of Novi, Michigan (Novi) fifth in the 400 (51.03); Jacob Kelley of Rockford, Michigan (Rockford) sixth in the steeplechase (10:13.89); and Lukas Bruxvoort of Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian) sixth in the long jump (20-11 / 6.39m).
The Hope record for the 200 meters stood for 20 years before Freeman topped it on Thursday. Freeman needed just one day to break that record.
"It was crazy," he said of battling Adrian's Randolph Fry. "When we came out of the turn, my legs were done. But Randy was with me stride for stride. I knew he had me by some strides, but I could sense him getting tired."
Freeman trailed Fy with about 20 feet before the finish line, but he turned on the afterburners.
He also had a lot of fun winning the 100. That wasn't as close.
"My PR in the 100 was 10.56 at Emory in Atlanta," Freeman said. "But it was just over the wind limit. That's why the school record in the 100 was a 10.69. This one will count for sure. That was incredible."
The MIAA record in the 200 was held by Calvin's Phil Sikkenga, who ran a 21.47 in 1999. The MIAA record in the 100 is held by Lance Coleman, who ran a 10.5 in 1990.
For Izenbart, the season isn't over. He will try to qualify for NCAA Division III nationals in the decathlon for the second year in a row. He may have won the javelin on Friday, but he wasn't so great at it early on.
"I was a baseball player growing up, so I've always liked throwing stuff," he said with a smile. "I think I started doing it freshman year because a bunch of other people were doing it. I was terrible at the beginning. But I stuck with it."