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Girls track regionals
Today
Northrop, 6 p.m.
Feeder sectionals: New Haven, Northrop, Madison-Grant, Marion
Warsaw, 6 p.m.
Feeder sectionals: Bremen, Angola, Rochester, Warsaw
Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Makelle Skelton runs on the Northrop 1600 relay team that is the reigning state champion and ranked No. 1 with a time of 3:56.44.

Northrop star at best when rushing around to 4 events

– Idle time tends to be unproductive time for Makelle Skelton, so the Northrop star stays busy – real busy – on the track.

One of the more versatile girls track athletes, the senior has proved her value again and again for the No. 2 Bruins in their quest for more state success.

The Ball State recruit participates in the 300-meter hurdles and long jump, while being a leg on the 400 and 1,600 relay teams.

“When (assistant coach Terry Milton) puts me in two events at a track meet, I do worse,” Skelton said. “When I am warmed up and actually rushing, I am better because I don’t stop and think and get nervous. I am on the go … the whole meet.”

The 1,600 relay team is the defending state champion and is ranked No. 1 in the state with a time of 3:56.44 at last week’s Northrop Sectional. Skelton was on the two winning relay teams at the sectional, while placing second in the 300 hurdles and third in the long jump, giving the Bruins important points.

“Wherever you need her and whatever you need her to do, she is going to do her very best,” first-year Northrop coach Harmony Ake said. “That takes a very special athlete. They don’t come around often, and we have been very blessed to have her.

“It is huge to know that you can count on someone like Makelle to do her very best and score points for us.”

The helter-skelter style has been a part of Skelton’s track career since she started the sport in the sixth grade. “It is hectic during practice,” she said. “We have to split it up over two days. It’s tough, but it keeps you busy.”

Northrop has nine state championships, the most in IHSAA history. The Bruins finished second last year.

And sometimes the difference between winning and losing a meet, especially in the postseason, is slight.

“Every point counts, actually every half-point counts,” Skelton said.

So Skelton fits right into Ake’s team-first concept.

“We are not here for one person to excel,” Ake said. “If the entire team doesn’t excel, then we feel like we have more work to do.”

A team co-captain, Skelton said she leads more by example than by being overly vocal.

“It really helps with morale because she knows what she is doing and she has done it before,” Ake said. “She has been very well-trained, and it when it came to a change in leadership and her reaction, she has helped the other girls to adjust. She knows what the team needs to do, and if there are any issues she is always there guiding them behind the scenes. That was something very important for our team to come together.”

gjones@jg.net

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