No. 10 Bull Dogs to battle No. 9 Trojans for girls track sectional crown

After going down to the wire in last year’s Franklin Sectional and Regional, the Columbus North and Center Grove girls track teams figure to wage tightly-contested battles again the next two Tuesdays at Franklin.

The Trojans have won six consecutive sectional titles since the Bull Dogs won three in a row from 2012-14. But last year was close, with Center Grove edging North by six points in the sectional and five in the regional.

The Bull Dogs are ranked 10th in this week’s Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches poll, one spot behind the Trojans.

“We always want to compete to win that sectional title,” North coach Rick Sluder said. “That’s our goal every year. Center Grove is going to be very good. Whiteland will have good athletes, but it will be us and Center Grove. Getting as many people as we can to regional will put us in contention with Center Grove at the same time.”

The top three in each event automatically qualify for the regional. After that, the next four best times and distances from the four feeder sectionals in each event advance to give the regional a field of 16 in each event.

The Bull Dogs are seeded first in six events. Junior Brianna Newell and senior Katherine Rumsey are seeded first and second in the 1,600 meters, and junior Julia Kiesler and Rumsey are 1-2 in the 3,200. Juniors Lily Baker and Julie Klaus are first and third in the 800, senior Kylah Lawson is first in the long jump and North is first in the 4×800 and 4×400 relays.

The Bull Dogs are seeded second in the 4×100 relay, and Natalie Ho is third in the 200.

“Our throwers have been looking very good on the girls side the last two weeks,” Sluder said. “I would expect both of our girls to be competing to go to the regional in both events. Our jumpers are getting stronger. Our long jumpers were both over 16 (Tuesday) night (in a dual meet at Franklin), and that will put them in contention, and both our vaulters, if they can be at the top of their game, they’re going to have a chance to go on. Then our relays and our sprints have been progressing really well. So I think up and down the board, we have a shot to send a lot of people to the regional.”

Columbus East’s Emma Gray, center, leads Columbus North’s Sasha Goodlow, left, across the finish line Thursday April 21, 2022, at Columbus East High School.

The Republic file photo

Columbus East’s best chance of advancing to regional is in the 100, where junior Emma Gray is seeded second. The Olympians also are seeded third in the 4×400 relay.

“Our goal this time of season is to get those individuals to move on to regional,” East girls coach Jesse Shoaf said. “We’d like to get our relays out, and then we have some individuals in some other events. We hope Emma Gray can get out in the 100 and maybe the 300 hurdles. Our 400 girls, Norah Dwenger and Jenna Guse, both of them are pretty strong, and Megan Tracy in the throws, so we’re hoping that those can make it out. Then, we might have a few other ones that might surprise us.”

The Franklin Sectional will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and will feature in teams, including Hauser and Edinburgh.

Also Tuesday, Jennings County and Trinity Lutheran will compete in the Seymour Sectional beginning at 5:45 p.m, while Brown County will be in the Bloomington North Sectional at 5:30 p.m., and South Decatur will compete in the East Central Sectional, also at 5:30 p.m. Top athletes from the East Central Sectional advance to the Franklin Regional, while top athletes from the Seymour and Bloomington North sectional sites move on to the Bloomington North Regional.

Boys track sectional action takes place on Thursday.