The way Steve Tyler sees it, his Columbus North girls track team would go pretty far in a dual-meet state tournament.
Unfortunately for Tyler and the Bull Dogs, the state championship is often decided on a team’s strength of a few individuals. Although it finished ahead of eventual state champion Pike in the Conference Indiana meet, North tied for 21st at state.
“That certainly gave us an idea that we’ll battle these people,” Tyler said. “We hope to score a few more points at the state meet this year and place as high as we can there. We’ll be good in dual meets again this year.”
That’s not to say the Bull Dogs don’t have people who can place high at the state meet. Junior Gabby Sims has finished fourth and third in the 400 meters the past two years, and the two girls who finished ahead of her last season have graduated. Junior Mackenzie Caldwell took sixth in the 3,200.
Sims, Caldwell and junior Malissa Hofmeister are back from the 4x800 relay team that finished 10th at state. Senior Chelsea Wieland tied for 19th in the pole vault, and senior Caryn Wolfe was 33rd in the 3,200.
“We have a lot of veterans who are coming back who have had a lot of success, and they are continuing to work and build on that,” Tyler said. “Again, we’re trying to advance as many people to the state meet as possible.”
Senior Rachael Sollman was a regional qualifier and Conference Indiana champion in the 800, and senior Kaci Tompkins was a regional qualifier in the 100 and 200 and conference runner-up in the high jump. Other regional qualifiers included junior Tessa Krempel in the shot put and discus; senior Lindsey Britt in the long jump; sophomore Hannah Poindexter in the 400; Sims, Sollman, Hofmeister and sophomore Janelle Peters in the 4x400 relay and Tompkins, Hofmeister, Peters and sophomore Olivia Malone in the 4x100 relay.
Freshman Sierra Lax was North’s No. 3 runner in cross-country and is a promising distance runner. The Bull Dogs also added a few newcomers from its Conference Indiana and sectional champion girls basketball team, including juniors Kelsey Cunningham and sophomores Megan Bandy, Debie Gedeon and Jessica Wagers.
“We have a very nice core group of kids that we’re going to continue to move around and see what’s best for them,” Tyler said. “We’re very focused on those relays. All three of those relays had great success last year. Depth is definitely a strength of ours. We’re going to score in as many events as possible.”
The Olympians will try to return to the top of the Hoosier Hills Conference after finishing second to Floyd Central last season. East had won the previous three HHC titles.
“We’re looking to bring back the conference championship again,” East coach Glen Brown said. “That’s one of the meets we key for.”
The Olympians return their only state qualifier in junior Erin Mack. Mack tied for 11th in the high jump.
Junior Sarah Loesch narrowly missed qualifying for state in both the shot and discus. Senior Allie Newell in the 300 hurdles and junior Molly Macy and sophomores Alexis Scheidt and Chase Wischmeier in the 4x400 relay were regional qualifiers.
Allie Newell, juniors Andrea Hendrickson and Sydney Newell and sophomore Kaitlin Wendel are battling for spots on the 4x400 team. Macy, who was primarily a hurdler last season, moves to the sprints.
Freshmen Morgan Ketron, Kira Singer and Maddie Lyons; sophomore Rachel Foley and senior Laura Barkes will lead the distance crew.
“We have a nice group of young distance runners that did well in cross-country,” Brown said. “We’re looking for them to come along.”
The Eagles will be looking for their third consecutive Western Indiana Conference title. They finished fourth in the Bloomington North Sectional and fifth in the Bloomington North Regional.
Sophomore Emily Brady tied for 19th at state in the pole vault. Seniors Madison Morris and Annette Wininger and sophomore Rose Guingrich return from the 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams that finished 23rd and 25th at state.
Brown County also has a pair of formidable hurdlers in Brady and senior Sasha Robinson, a University of Evansville basketball recruit. Sophomore Holly Rogers has shown promise in the long jump.
The Panthers will try to improve on a seventh-place finish in the HHC.
Sophomore Keri Ertel finished 17th at state in the 100 hurdles and just missed qualifying in the 300 hurdles. She was the team’s lone regional qualifier.
Other top returners include sophomore Kaleigh Brown and junior Rachel Thomas in the sprints, junior Cammi Shoultz in the throws and juniors Jessica Day and Alex Day in the distance events. Freshman Justine Corya in sprints and long jump is the top newcomer.
The Jets, who finished sixth in the Mid-Hoosier Conference, were hit hard by injuries in the offseason.
Sophomore high jumper Jordan McDaniel, who was Hauser’s lone regional qualifier, had knee surgery and is out for the year. Junior Frances Shoaf, who is the team’s top sprinter, also has a knee injury and will miss at least the first half of the season.
Sophomore Danielle Sneed finished second in the MHC in the 300 hurdles. Juniors Hannah Shoaf and Brittany Young are the top distance runners.
The Cougars have only 10 girls on the team, and all are underclassmen.
Junior Emily Mapes in the distance events and sophomore Olivia Watkins in the hurdles are the top returners. Top newcomers include freshmen Ashley Hamilton in the distance events, Anekah Bower in the high jump and sprints and Paige Wilmar in the hurdles.
The Lancers graduated their lone regional qualifier, but added a talented senior athlete.
Senior Maile Cox, a volleyball and basketball standout, is out for track for the first time since her freshman year and will run the sprints. Other top athletes include sophomores Morghan Wright in the hurdles, Melissa Bryant in the sprints and Lilia Perez in the distance events.
The Owls, who finished third in HHC, will look to defend their Seymour Sectional championship.
Junior Zoey Johnson was a regional qualifier in the 1,600 and 3,200. Other individual regional qualifiers were senior Alicia Pollert in the 800, junior Hannah Kleber in the 200 and junior Megan Kimbley in the high jump.
Pollert also is a hurdler. Other top athletes include senior Sidney Carr in the throws and sophomore Madison Hays in the distance events.
The Cougars finished fifth in last year’s Seymour Sectional and return an individual regional qualifier in junior Haley Couch.
Couch qualified in the 300 hurdles and the 100, and Trinity made it to regional in the 4x400 relay. Other top returning athletes include junior Ally Posey in the high jump, senior Erika Horton in the distance events and junior Brittaney VonDielingen in the 400.