Fort Wayne-area distance runners seem poised to rake in the points in the girls state track meet, which will be held Saturday at Indiana University.
Huntington North's Addison Wiley and Carroll's Zoe Duffus recorded the second- and third-fastest 1,600-meter times in Indiana's eight regional meets. (Carroll's Monroe Rayna Fuchey's 5:07.08 was the 10th-fastest, putting her in contention for placing in the top eight at the state championship.)
Homestead's Julia Dvorak ran the 800 in 2:13.42 despite windy, blustery conditions at the Marion Regional. Duffus and Wiley come into this event with the ninth- and 10th-fastest seed times.
In the 3,200, Carroll seniors Meagan Hathaway and Abby Green and Bishop Dwenger's Erin Strzelecki all have seed times within the top eight.
“I'm really just excited to see how we do against some other competition; we've been running against the same teams all year, so we're ready for some different people,” Carroll coach Phil Yoder said this week. “The 4x800, I think we've got a good thing going, I think they're going to run their best race on Saturday. We've got some young people, and this is going to be their first state meet, so we'll see how they react to that.”
Although there is a chance of thunderstorms in Bloomington on Saturday afternoon, Yoder agreed that the state meet should offer some of the best competition and best weather local runners have seen all season, setting them up to run their best races of the year.
“Zoe is finally healthy and getting into shape, so I'd like to see a high finish for her,” Yoder said. “And Rayna, same thing. I'd like to see her dip under 5 (minutes) for the first time, and she's ready to go. And for Abby and Meagan, I want to see them go out and finish their year and career on a high note and hopefully come back with a state championship between the two of them.”
But Wiley, a freshman, hasn't needed perfect conditions to run her best this season.
“That's definitely a PR for me – I've been PR-ing every race this season, so that's been going really well,” Wiley said after winning the 1,600 in 4:55.19 at the regional meet. “But going from 5:07 to sub-5 was definitely a huge accomplishment and what we wanted going into states.”
Northeast Indiana also has two likely placers in the high jump, as Meleah Leatherman of Central Noble recorded the third-highest clearance of any of the state regionals at 5 feet, 51/2 inches. Wayne's Erica Xayarath, who also qualified for the state meet in the long jump and as a member of the 400-meter relay, is the seventh seed with a clearance of 5-41/2. Noblesville's Shelby Tyler is the favorite in the event.
“It definitely went better than I thought – the weather didn't help any, and I was kind of worried about it,” Leatherman said of her performance at the Marion Regional. “I think this year is kind of a lower jumping year than it has been in the last couple years, and I'm hoping that comes in my favor and I can place, hopefully, in the top five, top three if possible.”
As usual, Northrop will send a large contingent of athletes to the state meet, including Tionna Brown in 100 and 200, Dylan Kirkwood and Morgan Patterson in the hurdles and Markalah Barnes in the throws, as well as 400-meter and 1,600-meter relay teams. However, it will take a huge effort for the Bruins sprinters to bypass fields stocked with standouts from North Central, Warren Central and Brebeuf Jesuit.
If you go
IHSAA Girls State Track and Field Championship
When: Saturday, field events at 3 p.m., running events at 4:15 p.m.
Where: Robert C. Haugh Track & Field Complex, Indiana University, Bloomington
Admission: $10 per person
Broadcast: Streaming at IHSAAtv.org
Long jump: Morgan Patterson (Northrop), Erica Xayarath (Wayne), Kara Gealy (Homestead)
Discus: Brittnee James (Homestead), Gabby Birch (Bellmont), Markalah Barnes (Northrop)
Pole vault: Josephine Gery (Homestead), Julia Parzygnot (Wawasee), Caitlin Kehler (Warsaw), Maggie Burita (Churubusco), Gwendolyn Krizon (Homestead)
High jump: Meleah Leatherman (Central Noble), Erica Xayarath (Wayne), Gracey Coyne (Heritage), Grayson Kilburn (Warsaw), Adison Smith (Concordia)
Shot put: Brittnee James (Homestead), Markalah Barnes (Northrop), Grace Bradtmueller (Norwell)
3,200-meter relay: Bishop Dwenger, Carroll, Norwell, Wawasee
100: Tionna Brown (Northrop), Karis Davis (Leo), Alison Smith (South Adams)
100 hurdles: Dylan Kirkwood (Northrop), Sophia Buck (Homestead), Morgan Patterson (Northrop), Mariah Schaefer (Columbia City)
200: Tionna Brown (Northrop), Payton Gorman (Snider)
1,600: Addison Wiley (Huntington North), Zoe Duffus (Carroll), Monroe Fruchey (Carroll), Lillie Oddou (Columbia City)
400 relay: Northrop, Wayne, Angola
400: Payton Gorman (Snider), Haley Swing (Homestead)
300 hurdles: Sophia Buck (Homestead), Dylan Kirkwood (Northrop)
800: Julia Dvorak (Homestead), Zoe Duffus (Carroll), Addison Wiley (Huntington North)
3,200: Meagan Hathaway (Carroll), Abby Green (Carroll), Erin Strzelecki (Bishop Dwenger), Wini Barnett (Warsaw)
1,600 relay: Homestead, Northrop, North Side