Columbus East girls track coach Glen Brown has some lofty hopes for this season after leading the Olympians to a second-place finish in the Hoosier Hills Conference and a fifth in the Franklin Sectional last year.
“I think we have a good balance of kids that we should be looking to win the conference,” Brown said. “Our sectional is so loaded, we’ll look to get as many kids through to regional as we can. It’s just a powerhouse sectional. If our workouts continue and nobody gets hurt, we have a shot of taking some people to state.”
East returns a pair of state-qualifying discus throwers in sophomore Beyoney Coleman-Turner and senior Seena Greiwe. Coleman-Turner finished 15th, and Greiwe was 22nd at state.
Coleman-Turner in the shot put, sophomore Keeleigh Kikendall in the high jump, senior Becca Bryan in the 100-meter hurdles and senior Cortney VanLiew in the 400 were regional qualifiers. Sophomore Ashley Allen, junior Gracie Schultheis and seniors Taylor Smith and Kayla Gastineau are all back from the 4×100 relay team; and juniors Kristen Lyons and Lizzy Frazier and senior Emma Mensendiek return from the 4×800 relay squad that ran in the regional.
Allen and Gastineau are back in the long jump, sophomore Olivia Williams returns in the hurdles; and Mensendiek, Lyons and sophomore Amanda Pottorff are the top distance runners. Freshmen Allison Mack and Elena Stoughton have shown promise in the high jump.
Sophomores McKenna Downey and Abby Lewis return in the pole vault. Junior Adi Minor, the state bars champion in gymnastics, is out for track this year and could pole vault or run sprints when she returns from an ankle injury.
“We have a good nucleus of seniors coming back and a good group of newcomers coming in,” Brown said. “We’ll just have to wait to see where everybody falls into place.”
The Bull Dogs had success from some individuals last season, but that didn’t translate into overall team success. They finished sixth in Conference Indiana and fourth in the Franklin Sectional.
“We’re trying to build on what we did last year,” North coach Lou Sipe said. “I thought we had some good success. We had all our relay teams advance to the regional, and I think that experience would help. Getting some people back from injury is going to help.”
Senior Rachel Brougher, a three-time state qualifier and Eastern Michigan recruit, finished 24th at state in the 3,200 last season. Juniors Arig Tong and Kirsten Ballard return from the state-qualifying 4×800 relay team.
Junior Jahna Smiley was a regional qualifier in the high jump. Smiley, senior Dakota Gates and and junior Liz Tynan ran on the 4×100 relay team; and freshman Kayla Alexander, senior Katlin Meek and Tong were on the 4×400 relay squad.
Junior Maura VanDeventer has made a splash during the indoor season in the long jump and hurdles. Senior Maliah Howard-Bass returns in the high jump and 400, and junior sprinter Kennedy Cook is back after missing part of last year with an injury.
Top newcomers include freshman Chelsi Giesege in the 400 and 800 and freshmen Riley Eder and sophomore Summer Spencer in the throws. Freshman Olivia Morlok, who was one of the top runners on the cross-country team, may also join the track team once her club swim season is over.
“We have some new faces and some girls that have been around,” Sipe said. “Hopefully, they’ll help bring along the newcomers. They’ve been pretty solid. I’m pretty excited with the work that they’ve done so far.”
The Jets will have a small team again with only nine girls.
Junior Grace Hasler will look to take that next step and qualify for state after finishing fourth in regional in the 300 hurdles, just one spot away from advancing. Her sister, freshman Mel Hasler, is out for track and could run the hurdles or 400.
Senior Brea Metz returns in the shot, discus and high jump. Junior Haley Embry is back in the sprints and long jump, and senior Maleah Bates is the lone distance runner.
Other athletes include sophomore Erin Newcomb in the high jump, sophomore Angel Gibson in the throws, freshman Bree Hadley in the sprints and freshman Macie Hill possibly in the throws.
Hauser finished fourth in the Mid-Hoosier Conference and seventh in the Franklin Sectional last season.
“We’re going to be small, but we have quite a bit of talent,” Hauser coach April Dalton said. “Hopefully, we can still score high in the conference.”
The Panthers nearly won their own sectional last year, falling to Seymour by only 1 1/2 points. Jennings finished third in the HHC.
Sophomore Kayla Truesdell was state qualifier in the shot and already has broken the school indoor record in that event this winter. Truesdell also was a regional qualifier in the discus.
Other returning regional qualifers are senior Molly Simmons in the pole vault, junior Alexis Harsh in the long jump and 100, sophomore Marley Stearns in the 400 and senior Denza Simpson in the 300 hurdles. Simmons, Simpson and Harsh are back from the 4×100 relay team; junior Emma McPeek, sophomore Alana Daeger, Stearns and Simpson return from the 4×400 relay squad; and McPeek and Stearns return from the 4×800 relay team that qualified for regional.
Sophomore Ashley Heindel and freshman Emma Morrison were the top runners on the Jennings cross-country team, and senior Amy Gasper returns in the hurdles. The Panthers have a pair of promising freshmen in Baylee Byford in the 1,600 and 800 and Izzy Daugherty in the 400, 200 and long jump.
“We’re really young this year, so it’s a little bit different,” Jennings coach Leah McLeod said. “We’ve lost a lot, but we did pick up quite a bit. It might be one of those seasons where we’re not going to come out of the gate great, but by May, we should be decent.”
The Eagles had one of their best seasons ever last year in rolling to the Western Indiana Conference title and finishing third in the Bloomington North Sectional.
Junior Kathleen McCann returns after qualifying for state in the 100 and the regional in the 200. McCann, senior Elly Wertz and junior Vivien Crimmins were on the regional-qualifying 4×100 relay team.
Wertz also qualified for regional in the long jump, and Crimmins made it in the 100 hurdles. Senior Maddy Fields was a regional qualifier in the pole vault, and senior Haley Abraham returns from the regional-qualifying 4×800 relay team.
Other top returners include sophomores Evey Crimmins and Coralynne Robinson in the hurdles and senior Tessa Dean in the throws. Brown County also could see contributions from some of its eight freshmen.
The Lancers have a new coach in former Edinburgh and Franklin College runner Ashley Myers. She takes over a team that finished ninth in the MHC and 11th in the Franklin Sectional.
Sophomore Taylor Tatlock was the only individual to score in the sectional last year, placing eighth in the discus. She also high jumps and runs the 400.
Senior Blythe Carman returns in the middle distance and sprints, and junior Katelyn Bivens is back in the sprints. Freshman distance runner Lili Ervin is the top newcomer.
“We aren’t as big as we wanted to be, but you run into that with a smaller school,” Myers said. “We’re actually looking pretty strong. We have some freshmen that we’re hoping to get us a few points.”
The Cougars will look for a big improvement after finishing 10th in the MHC.
Only three of the 14 girls on the team are returning from last season. Top athletes are senior Stacy Fox in the long jump and sprints, sophomore Taylor Best in the hurdles and sophomore Hannah Miller in the middle distance events.
Marta Reputin, an exchange student from Italy, could run the sprints and possibly the hurdles. Freshman Tanisha Bushhorn also could give South Decatur a lift in the sprints.
“Just being able to compete as a team, rather than individually, and having those numbers this year is exciting,” South Decatur coach Bethany Fromer said.
New coach Caleb Tormoehlen inherits a small squad with only seven girls.
Senior Hailley Peters was a state qualifier in the high jump and a regional qualifier in the long jump. Senior Lexi Keller narrowly missed qualifying for regional in the 100 hurdles.
Freshmen Hannah Sabotin and Emma Goecker will run the 400, 800 and 4×400 relay. Sabotin also will high jump.
“We’re not going to do a whole lot as a team this year, but individually, this is going to be a pretty good year,” Tormoehlen said. “I think in my four years of coaching, this might be the year I send the most people past sectional.”