Whiteland wins first-ever girls track and field sectional

Not even the persistent precipitation could dampen Whiteland’s collective mood on Tuesday.

On a night where rain made conditions difficult in several events but stayed light enough for the meet to get completed, the Warrior girls came away with the first sectional championship in their history, outpointing runner-up Center Grove by an impressive 156-124 margin.

“It’s exciting, obviously,” Bangel said. “To win the county for the first time in school history and to be able to come back and win the sectional is kind of even extra sweet. The girls did a great job; they competed extremely well tonight.”

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Sophomore Elnora Stevenson was the star of the show for the Warriors, easily taking first in the long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 11 inches and winning the 200-meter dash with a school-record time of 25.48 seconds.

Stevenson got another victory when she anchored the Warriors’ 4×100 relay, teaming with Sydney Rodgers, Annibelle Gillbert and Marissa Kratowicz to come from behind and edge Franklin, 49.44 to 49.50.

“The adrenaline rushed through me, because I knew I had messed up my handoff,” Stevenson said of her late charge on the final leg. “So the adrenaline was rushing through me just to catch up and try my best to pass her.”

Senior Tori Jackson added a win for Whiteland in the 800, finishing in 2:13.19. Jackson also advanced to next week’s Shelbyville Regional in the 1,600, placing third with a time of 5:11.56.

Center Grove’s 4×800 relay quartet of Marissa Pogue, Diana Hodges, Gretchen Meisberger and Hallie Mimbela cruised to victory with a time of 9:37.35. The Trojans also got individual victories from Dee Biddings in the 100-meter dash (12.69) and Emerson Vlcan in the high jump (5-1). Biddings was also second in the 200 (26.12).

For Franklin, which placed third with 106 points, Aubrey Runyon continued her season-long dominance of the hurdles. The junior won the 100s by nearly a full second in 14.74 and cruised to victory in the 300s with a time of 45.48 seconds.

“Not the greatest conditions, but I was just trying to make it out, just trying to win,” Runyon said. “Not trying to PR, necessarily, because my hip has been bothering me.”

That troublesome hip led Runyon to pull out of the 4×400 relay at night’s end, but her teammates got the job done without her. Samantha Frazier, Ainsley Botkin, Hanna Stewart and Lauren Klem rallied to take the win with a time of 4:05.59. Klem also earned an individual first in the 400, crossing the line in 58.98 seconds.

Indian Creek sophomore Libby Dowty owned the distance events as expected, setting a sectional record in the 1,600 (4:58.16) and winning the 3,200 (10:43.98) by more than 44 seconds. Also a double winner on the night was Greenwood’s Emma Gardner, who won both the discus (131 feet, 10 1/2 inches) and shot put (39-11 1/2).

“There definitely weren’t any PRs,” Gardner said, “but I did a lot better than I did last year here, so I was happy with how I did.”

The Woodmen also got an individual win from Amy Luttrell, who cleared 12 feet to win the pole vault. Greenwood was fifth as a team with 67 points, with Indian Creek (48) sixth and Greenwood Christian (3) eighth. Edinburgh did not score any team points.

Also advancing to regional for Whiteland were Rodgers (second, 12.86) and Kratowicz (third, 13.15) in the 100, Addison Emberton in the 300 hurdles (second, 47.98), Emma Gill in the long jump (second, 16-1 3/4), Sophia Dyer in the discus (second, 127-1), Carly VonDielingen in the shot put (second, 39-6 1/2), Ashley Cooprider in the high jump (second, 5-1), Madison Fleury in the 400 (third, 1:01.00), the 4×400 relay team of Jackson, Lena Shipp, Fleury and Emberton (third in 4:07.43) and the 4×800 foursome of Shipp, Fleury, Bella Fuentes and Ramya Flaherty (third in 10:01.55).

Center Grove also advanced its 4×400 relay team of Biddings, Pogue, Hodges and Mimbela (second in 4:06.93), Khloie Walker in the pole vault (second at 12 feet), Dayzia Clark in the 100 hurdles (third in 16.53), Hodges in the 300 hurdles (third in 48.57), Mimbela in the 800 (third in 2:14.59), Sukh Chahal in the high jump (third at 5-1) and Luci Barile in the discus (third in 125-10).

Frazier punched a regional ticket for Franklin in the 200 meters (third in 26.59), Addison Martin advanced in the pole vault (third at 11-6) and Emma Bertel moved on in the shot put (third in 39-3 1/2); Runyon, Martin, Stewart and Frazier comprised the Grizzly Cubs’ runner-up 4×100 relay. Greenwood’s Makena Cruse was second in the 400 (1:00.96), teammate Lilly Rollings was second in the 3,200 (11:28.39) and Indian Creek’s Molly Margison earned a regional berth in the long jump, placing third at 16 feet, 1/2 inch.

Several other locals who finished outside of the top three will wait and see if they can grab at-large qualifying spots for the regional. Depending on where everything stands after Wednesday’s other sectional results are in, Bangel believes Whiteland has a chance to bring home yet another first-ever championship.

“We’ve got to see what happens with discus, see if all of our discus throwers got through,” he said, “but if they all get through I think we’re going to have a shot next week. It’s going to take a great meet, but we’re going to be in the mix … it’s fun to even be in that situation.”