Setting the bar high

The Columbus North girls track team may not have the depth it has had the past few years to challenge for conference, sectional and regional titles, but it could have some contenders for high state finishes.

The Bull Dogs lost state-qualifying hurdlers Debie Gedeon and Olivia Malone, but return three other qualifiers. They include senior Katrina May, who finished sixth at state in the pole vault.

May, who helped lead the North gymnastics team to a state title on Saturday, won Conference Indiana, Franklin Sectional and Shelbyville Regional titles in the pole vault last season. She is tied for the state’s second-best indoor pole vault this year.

“Obviously it’s early, but we’ve had some promising performances indoor,” North coach Lou Sipe said. “We need to continue to work. It’s a good group of girls. They’re fun to be around. They work hard.”

Junior Rachel Brougher and senior Sierra Lax just missed earning medals at last year’s state meet. Brougher finished 10th in the 3,200 meters, and Lax was 11th in the 1,600 and 14th in the 3,200.

In the fall, Brougher and Lax led the Bull Dogs to a third-place state finish in cross-country. Also from that team, senior Allison Coffey was a regional qualifier in the 1,600, and senior Nina Bouthier and sophomore Arig Tong were regional qualifiers in the 800 and 4×800 relay.

“Obviously, we lost a lot, but the distance girls are back with Sierra and Rachel,” Sipe said. “They had a really good nucleus of girls that competed on the cross-country team this year.”

Senior Johanna Anderson was a regional qualifier in the high jump, and sophomore Sophie Bailey ran the 4×400 relay at the regional. Senior middle distance runner Rachel Craig is out for track for the first time since moving to North two years ago and could make an impact.

Looking to fill varsity spots this year are sophomore Jahna Smiley in high jump, sophomore Kennedy Cook in the sprints, junior Maliah Howard-Bass in high jump and possibly sprints, junior Karol Espinosa in the pole vault and 400 and senior Delaney Maddix and sophomore Roxanna Mendoza in the hurdles.

“It’s exciting to be in that position to have girls with that experience,” Sipe said. “They can obviously be leaders on the team because they’ve been there. The younger girls can see that and strive to have those same opportunities.”

Those younger girls include freshman Ensley Hammond and sophomore Ana Singhal in the distance events, freshman Baleigh Drum in the sprints and sophomore newcomers Liz Tynan in sprints and Mackenzie Agnew in the 400. Howard-Bass, Tynan and Agnew were part of North’s state runner-up girls basketball team.

The Bull Dogs’ track team will look to move up after finishing third in the conference, second in the sectional and third in the regional last season. This year’s regional will be at Warren Central.

“We always try to talk about winning the conference,” Sipe said. “We try to put our best roster together for the sectional and win a sectional title and get as many people through to the regional and the state meet as possible.”

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Columbus North girls track

2016 schedule

Wednesday;at Whiteland;5:30 p.m.

April 5;Bloomington South;6 p.m.

April 9;North Invitational;11 a.m.

April 12;at Seymour;5:30 p.m.

April 15;at Franklin Central Showcase;6 p.m.

April 16;Midwest Prep at Lawrence Central;11 a.m.

April 21;at Columbus East;5 p.m.

April 23;at Brown County Talon  Relays;10:30 a.m.

April 26;at East Central (with Shelbyville);5:30 p.m.

April 29;Conference Indiana at Southport;5:30 p.m.

May 6;at Martinsville Koontz Relays;6 p.m.

May 11;at Franklin;5 p.m.