Michael Vocke Wins Record 4th Straight 1600m State Title!

The saying goes that "the third is a charm," but three state championships inthe 1600m wasn't enough for Jesuit's Michael Vocke at the 2024 LHSAA State Outdoor Track & Field Championship Saturday evening. He made history Saturday afternoon by winning his fourth consecutive 1600m title with a 4:12.33.

Vocke's time bettered the class record of Zach Albright (4:12.92) in 2014, but was less than a half second shy of Keith Iovine state meet composite record of 4:12.00 set in 1982. 

"I don't think he knew what the record was or how close he was to it," Jesuit distance coach Cullen Doody said. "All he wanted to do is win, and that's fine." 

Vocke might not have even broken the class record had it not been for Parkway freshman Brennan Robin, who set the tone early in the race by going out to the lead. 

Before Saturday, the longest streak of 1600m titles in the highest classification was three by Catholic's Robby Leblanc (1994-1996). 

Before Leblanc did it, Fair Park's Wayne Olds (1956-1958), Warren Easton's William Klotz (1949-1951), and Lecompte's J.H Welch (1932-1934) did it. 

"It was simple," Vocke said of his plan going into the race. "I just wanted to follow the competition. I knew that if I could stay in contact with whoever was going to go out that I would be in good shape. I'm very confident in my kick, so I just had to get to that point and kick it in."

"It was fitting," Doody said. "I think it was his best race in a Jesuit uniform. It was a personal record. He always runs well at state. Brennan Robin's strategy was to take it out hard. He contributed massively to Vocke's race."

With Robin and Vocke out in front of the field, it was a "passing of the torch" moment, if you will. From one veteran who experienced early success in his career to a freshmen sensation in Robin, who is hungry just like Vocke was in 2021 when he won his first state 1600m championship.

Vocke was asked if he had any advice for the freshman.

"The first thing I would tell him is to stay humble," Vocke said. "My first year, I really let the pride get to me. I had to work on that and become a more humble person. I'd tell him to sta humble and stay consistent is the key. Making sure you are keeping up with all your training, your health-related stuff. To do this requires a lot with your health-not getting sick, not getting injured in all that. Yeah, I'd tell him to be consistent."

Vocke will now turn his attention to his collegiate career, which will continue at the same venue where has experienced so much success as a high school athlete-LSU's Bernie Moore Stadium. 

It's a bittersweet moment for Vocke. On one hand, he is looking forward to joining his former teammates and friends in the LSU distance program and competing against the elite competition that the SEC offers. On the other hand, there is much he will miss about training and competing in the Jesuit distance program.

"I'm going to miss the community," Vocke said. "The support I get from my teammates, the Jesuit culture we have-especially Cullen (Doody). I can never thank Cullen enough. He was in the same shoes that I am. He went to Jesuit and then LSU. He dealt with a lot of things that I do-mentally, anxiety related so it's nice having him because he has been through what I am going through right now."