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The Journal Gazette

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette Bishop Dwenger's Erin Strzelecki broke the 3,200 record at the SAC Championships last week. The junior, who also won the 1,600, will look to better her third-place finish in the event at last year's sectional.

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Churubusco junior pole vaulter Sam Wood is aiming to not only reach the state finals, but to finish high there.

Friday, May 10, 2019 1:00 am

Tracking all the storylines for sectionals

Northrop girls not a lock this year

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

The track and field postseason is nearly here, with the girls sectionals scheduled for Tuesday and the boys to follow Thursday. Seven local teams will be defending sectional titles next week, including two (the Warsaw and Northrop girls) who have won every sectional championship for at least a decade. 

As the rest of the area attempts to unseat these dynasties, here are 10 things to keep an eye on:

Girls

1. Bishop Dwenger junior Erin Strzelecki finished third in the 3,200-meters at sectionals last season and fourth at regionals. But she broke the SAC Championship record May 3 with a 10:54.52, about 10 seconds faster than she typically ran last season. That makes the race with Carroll's outstanding distance runners, led by Meagan Hathaway, all the more interesting. 

2. Carroll has already gotten the better of Northrop once this season, beating out the Bruins 128.5 points to 99.5 at the Lime City Relays at Huntington North in late April. (Homestead girls won decisively with 156 points). The field of teams and events contested at the sectional meet will be different, but it's a reminder that, despite Northrop's 10 straight sectional titles, they're not unbeatable. 

3. The Norwell girls have won three straight sectional titles, but finished fourth at the NE8 Conference meet last week. Will the success of middle- and long-distance runners such as Sydney Lambert and Sarah Mahnensmith, hurdler Kenlee Stoppenhagen and NE8 shot put winner Grace Bradtmueller be enough to put the Knights in the Marion sectional?

4. At the Northern Lakes Conference Championship on Tuesday, the Warsaw girls won sprints and middle-distance racers. They won the long jump and placed highly in a slew of distance races and field events. Sorry to the rest of the Warsaw sectional, which includes many of the same opponents from last week's conference championships: it appears the Tigers, winners of 12 straight sectionals, have a good chance of keeping the streak alive.

5. Freshman Alison Smith had a huge day for South Adams at the ACAC Championship meet Tuesday, winning the 100, 200 and 400, and finishing second in the long jump. Her times match up well against conference championship performances by NE8 and SAC teams that will join the Starfires in the New Haven sectional.

Boys 

1. Carroll is the top-ranked boys team in the area – No. 10 by the latest Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches poll, which was released Monday. Homestead (No. 13) is the only other area team in the Top 20. Both teams are defending sectional titles.

2. Heritage finished sixth out of nine teams at sectionals last year, but got an incredible effort by a number of athletes to snatch the ACAC title. Will a repeat of Tuesday's personal record-fest by the Patriots lead to a move up in the New Haven Sectional standings?

3. Wawasee's Isaiah Tipping and Columbia City's Liam Hesting easily won the Northern Lakes Conference and NE8 Conference titles in the shot put. Their winning marks were within two feet of each other (Hesting at 54-feet, 1-inch and Tipping at 55-10.5), setting up an exciting battle at the Goshen Sectional.

4. Churubusco junior Sam Wood has enjoyed plenty of post-season success as a pole vaulter, but his clearance of 15-feet, 6-inches at the Hoosier State Relays would've put him third at last year's state meet.

5. The Snider boys won a close 4x800 race at the SAC meet in 8:03.14, beating South Side by less than a second and Concordia by just over 6 seconds. All three teams will be in the mix again at the North Side Sectional.

vjacobsen@jg.net