Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Julia Dvorak, left, receives the baton from teammate Haley Swing during track practice at Homestead on Monday.
Tuesday, May 15, 2018 1:00 am
State experience helps Homestead sophomore
As track novice, she placed 8th year ago in 800-meter finals
AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette
If You Go
What: Girls track & field sectionals
Advancement: First-, second- and third-place finishers in all individual events and relays plus any individual or relay team meeting the 3 Participant Standard in the sectional finals of their event. If the top 3 finishers plus 3 Participant Standard advancers in an event is fewer than 16, the next best performances from the corresponding sectionals shall be added to bring the total number of entrants to 16 in each event. An individual or relay team shall not advance to the regional from the sectional finals unless the time is recorded by fully automatic timing.
North Side, 5:30 p.m.: Carroll, Churubusco, Bishop Dwenger, Blackhawk Christian, Concordia, Northrop, North Side, Snider, South Side, Lakewood Park Christian, Leo, Woodlan.
New Haven, 5 p.m.: Adams Central, Bellmont, Bishop Luers, Canterbury, Wayne, Heritage, Homestead, Huntington North, New Haven, South Adams.
East Noble, 5 p.m.: Angola, Central Noble, DeKalb, East Noble, Eastside, Fremont, Garrett, Hamilton, Lakeland, Prairie Heights, West Noble, Westview.
Marion at Indiana Wesleyan, 5:30 p.m.: Alexandria, Blackford, Bluffton, Eastbrook, Elwood, Frankton, Marion, Mississinewa, Northfield, Norwell, Oak Hill, Southern Wells, Southwood, Wabash.
Warsaw, 5:30 p.m.: Bethany Christian, Columbia City, Concord, Elkhart Central, Elkhart Christian, Elkhart Memorial, Fairfield, Goshen, Jimtown, Lakeland Christian, Northridge, NorthWood, Warsaw, Wawasee.
Rochester Community, 5:30 p.m.: Bremen, Caston, Culver Academies, Culver Community, Manchester, North Miami, Plymouth, Rochester Community, Tippecanoe Valley, Triton, Whitko.
Almost a year ago, Homestead sophomore Julia Dvorak completed her first-ever track season with two podium finishes at the state meet in Bloomington.
Today, armed with that experience and a few inches taller, Dvorak and her teammates begin the quest to return to the state podium with their sectional at New Haven.
“She's obviously got some raw talent, but the combination of her work ethic and she's a thinker as she races, too. You have to be in that 800 (meter),” coach Anne Tiernon said. “She's good at the strategy end of the racing, highly motivated, hates to lose; all the good things that come with an elite athlete, she has.”
At last year's state meet, Dvorak capped her season with an 800-meters personal best 2 minutes, 14.85 seconds for eighth at state. She also ran a leg on the 1,600-meter relay that finished eighth in 3:57.51, a relay team that graduated one (Evonne Bultemeyer) but added junior Kara Gealy, who was injured last year but ran as a freshman.
“Definitely having the race experience helps visualize what the competition level will be like at postseason races,” Dvorak said, “so it helps prepare both mentally and physically for the races to come and you can think about that and simulate that in your workouts which is really nice.”
Dvorak's season-best 2:15.26 in the 800 is ranked fifth in the state, and the 1,600 relay's 3:57.90 is sixth. The 1,600 relay team finished fourth at the Hoosier State Relays in March in 4:02.82.
Within the year, too, Dvorak's physical maturity has allowed her to be a stronger runner.
“I've definitely grown and with that I've done more strengthening work, too, which I feel like so far has helped me feel like a stronger runner so that's helped. I think I was like 5-6 last year, now I'm like 5-9 or 5-10.
“I feel like this year, our coaches have done a good job focusing on form so I feel like my stride's opened up more and elongated. We've been working a lot on opening up arms, opening up strides to get as much speed as we can.”
Dvorak comes from a family of runners, so even though last year was her first season on the track, she had built a mileage base from a young age.
“I started running in, I think, second grade,” Dvorak said. “I have three older brothers, and they all run and my parents run, too, so we'd all just run 5Ks together as a family. I think I started then and then I'd run like three miles every day. And then I just fell in love with it ever since.”
Going from the 5K distances and off-track cross country courses to the shorter, faster races was a process, but Dvorak adjusted well and embraced the challenges.
“It definitely is an adjustment at first getting out of the longer distances and working more toward the mid-distance,” she said. “I like switching to the shorter workouts.
“This year, we've been focusing on a lot more 400, too, for me so it's been fun to run some of the open 400s.
“The transition from the longer to shorter takes a little bit, but it's definitely fun and I like being able to switch up the distances that I run.”