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Gabby Sims’ future is in track and field, but she’s not ready for her soccer career to be over.
The senior midfielder-forward will help lead Columbus North into this week’s North Sectional. Columbus East, which edged the Bull Dogs 3-2 last month, is the favorite, and the teams likely will meet again in Saturday night’s championship game.
“I still feel pretty good about it,” Sims said. “I feel like we’ve definitely improved since then. It’s going to be a great game.”
A four-year varsity player, Sims was a member of North’s state runner-up team in 2010 and final four team in 2011. She moved into the starting lineup last season and has been a steady leader, along with fellow senior Kenadie Carlson, this year.
“As an individual, I’ve improved a lot throughout all four years,” Sims said. “Freshman year, I couldn’t cross the ball. By now, I feel so much more confident, and I feel like our team has grown a lot, too.”
The Bull Dogs are 11-4 going into Tuesday’s first-round matchup with Charlestown. Sims ranks third on the team with eight goals and is tied with Carlson for the team lead with eight assists.
“It’s a great feeling knowing that we’re having a great winning season this year,” Sims said. “We’ve definitely had a lot of improvement.”
North coach Derek Stewart plays Sims both at outside midfield and forward.
“With her speed, she can get both places pretty quick,” Stewart said. “That’s why we like using her outside on the flank. We can play through balls to her quite effectively and use her speed.
“She’s great at timing her runs,” he said. “She has the timing to stay onside and make sure we connect on those runs, and she’s pretty good at diagonal runs.”
Sims has shown that speed on the track since her freshman year. That season, she finished fourth in the state in the 400 meters in a school-record 57.00 seconds.
As a sophomore, Sims moved up to third in the 400. She was third again as a junior, breaking her own school record with a 56.31 clocking, and anchored the 16th-place 4x400 relay team.
“I want to win state or at least get second,” Sims said. “I’m tired of being third. I want our 4x400 to go back to state, too.”
The 5-foot-11 Sims also was the seventh player on the Bull Dogs’ Class 4A state runner-up girls basketball team as a sophomore before giving up that sport to focus on track and soccer. But she almost didn’t run track to begin her high school career.
“Freshman year, I did it because I did it eighth-grade year,” Sims said. “I kind of did it to stay in shape for soccer, but then as the coaches started to believe in me and I realized my potential, I was like ‘OK, this is cool.’ Then one of my friends from East (Sydney Newell) actually encouraged me to pursue running in college.”
Division I Murray State and Division II Hillsdale (Mich.) have shown the most interest in Sims. She plans to visit Murray State in November and Hillsdale sometime after soccer is over.
Sims hopes that isn’t this week.
“I think she’s obviously a strong leader for us,” Stewart said. “She’s a tremendous student-athlete. She’s a nice role model for our girls.”
“There’s so many good things to say about her,” Carlson said. “She’s a great teammate and a great captain, and she brings a lot to the team. She’s a great player for us. It’s been fun playing with her all through the years.”
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