Eastwood senior sprinter Isaiah Conkle knew this was going to be his last go-round, so he figured he might as well make the best of it.
Conkle, a standout running back for the Eagles’ football team and one of the top 100- and 200-meter runners in the area, entered the spring track and field season hoping to qualify for his third state meet and have a little fun along the way.
“It’s probably been one of the funnest years in terms of competing and just being around the guys,” he said. “There’s never a dull moment with them. It’s always fun. We’re always serious and focused, but we always have time to have fun and joke around a lot. I’m really happy with the way things have gone. I’ve been confident the whole year and it’s helped me build up for (districts) and, hopefully, the next three weeks.”
Conkle won the 200 and set the Northern Buckeye Conference meet record in the 100 (11.03) for the second straight year at last week’s NBC meet. He also was on the winning 4x100 relay team with sophomore Devin Snowden, junior Steve Bruning and sophomore Brennan Seifert, helping the Eagles capture their 13th straight league championship.
Conkle was named the meet’s outstanding male track athlete for the second straight year.
“I try not to think about it,” he said of winning the award. “If it happens, it happens. It’s nothing too big to stress about. If you go out and do your thing — I think I did — it should happen.”
Conkle was voted one of Eastwood’s four captains this season, and coach Brian Sabo said he is “proud” of the type of leader Conkle has become.
“He’s grown as a person,” Sabo said. “He really encourages the younger kids. It doesn’t matter who you are. He treats everybody with great respect, including coaches. All year long it’s been ‘Whatever the team needs me to do.’ That’s a pretty big statement.”
Conkle said becoming more of a leader, especially for the younger athletes, was important to him going into his senior track season.
“The fundamentals I learned came from my coaches and friends, like my brother (Zach) and friends of his,” Conkle said. “If you don’t build a good relationship with the underclassmen, then you’re doing something wrong. You have to have that stronger base beneath you if you want to them to follow your lead and lead by example.”
Conkle helped garner plenty of points for the Eagles at last week’s Division II district meet at Oak Harbor. He won the 100, took second in the 200 and helped the 4x100 and 4x200 relays win their events.
Sabo put Conkle in a handful of 4x400 events this season, and Conkle said training for the longer sprint helped him in other events.
“I started doing 400 workouts and it helped me for the 100 and 200,” he said, “because I would finish both of them and not even be tired and it would build my endurance. That (relay) is probably my favorite event. I used to like the 200, but once I did the 4x400, you can’t beat that. It’s the race of men and it’s a lot more satisfying. You have to rely on everyone. The fun part is seeing who wants it the most.”
Conkle has competed in two state meets. Two years ago he was a member of the Eagles’ 4x100 and 4x200 relays. Last season he qualified in the 100, 200 and 4x100.
“This is definitely the funnest part of the season,” Conkle said. “I don’t want to leave districts or regionals and have any regrets. I want to go out and say I gave it my best shot.”