North freshman heading to state: Runner improves time by 45 seconds for regional victory

FRANKLIN — Two events remained in Tuesday night’s Franklin Regional, and Bartholomew County was in danger of being shut out of the Girls Track and Field State Finals.

Then, a freshman came to the rescue.

Columbus North’s Olivia Morlok saved her best race of her career for her biggest race. She ran to victory in the 3,200 meters in a personal best 11 minutes, 12.62 seconds.

“I just felt like I could go,” Morlok said. “I got on the starting line, and I just knew I could, and that was different from sectional. I felt a lot better today.”

Morlok, who ran only 11:57.29 to finish second in last week’s Franklin Sectional, improved that time by 45 seconds. She was in the lead pack of five runners after a 5:39 first 1,600.

Morlok began pulling away after that and cruised to a 5:33 second 1,600 to win by more than eight seconds over Warren Central’s Jamie Wells.

“You don’t know what to expect going into the tournament,” Morlok said. “You just go out there and race and hope for the best, and it worked out well. I didn’t take the first mile out as fast as I normally do, so I had room to go on the second mile, and that’s how I got ahead.”

Beyond that, it was a day of heartbreak for the North, Columbus East and Hauser girls.

North’s Arig Tong finished fourth in the 1,600 in 5:17.78, and East’s Beyoncey Coleman-Turner took fourth in the discus with a throw of 117 feet, 1 inch.

The top three earn automatic berths to the state finals. If the number of athletes from the state’s eight regionals that earn top-three finishes or state-qualifying standards don’t reach 27, the next best performances (a maximum of three) earn call backs.

Hauser junior Grace Hasler is one of those girls who might be in the running for a call-back. She finished fifth in the 300 hurdles in a school-record 47.23.

“I felt like I’ve been getting stronger and getting better,” Hasler said. “I’ve been practicing a lot harder. My biggest goal for next year is to make it through sectional and regional and on to state.”

North’s Adrienne Salemme finished sixth and Sami Heathcote 11th in the pole vault, with both clearing 9-6. Ana Singhal, Jennifer Gutman, Jocelyn Maynard and Kirsten Ballard took eighth in the 4×800 relay (10:20.99), and Dakota Gates, Andrea Monsivais, Jahna Smiley and Liz Tynan were eighth in the 4×100 relay (51.30).

Also for the Bull Dogs, Ballard in ther 800 (2:31.23), Singhal in the 3,200 (12:17.86) and Gates, Katlin Meek, Kennedy Cook and Tong in the 4×400 relay (4:14.73) finished 10th. Kennedy Kerber took 12th in the 1,600 (5:42.80), Cook was 14th in the 200 (27.87) and Tong finished 16th in the 800 (2:37.46).

“(Morlok) ran a great race,” North coach Lou Sipe said. “That’s quite an accomplishment for her. We had a lot of good performances tonight.”

East’s Seena Greiwe, who like Coleman-Turner was a state qualifier last year, finished sixth in the discus (115-7). Ashley Allen in the long jump (16-0), Coleman-Turner in the shot put (35-¼), Cortney VanLiew in the 400 (1:00.92) all took 10th.

Also for the Olympians, Yami Diaz, Isha Chavan, Allison Mack and VanLiew finished 12th in the 4×400 relay (4:17.27); and Diaz, Kristen Lyons, Emma Menseniek and Amanda Pottorff took 11th in the 4×800 relay (10:48.22). Elana Stoughton did not make the opening height in the high jump.

“We came out here, and we competed,” East coach Glen Brown said. “We gave it everything we had. Unfortunately, this is a great regional. It has a lot of talent.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.