Setting The Pace: North sweeps distance events; East’s Gray takes 300 hurdles

It was a night of distance domination for the Columbus North girls, but unfortunately for the 10th-ranked Bull Dogs, it wasn’t enough to overcome the across-the-board performance of No. 9 Center Grove.

The Trojans outscored North 177-123 to capture the team title at Tuesday’s Franklin girls track sectional. Columbus East, led by a win from Emma Gray in the 300-meter hurdles, finished sixth with 40 points.

The Bull Dogs went 1-2 in all three distance events and set sectional records in the 4×800 relay and 800. Lily Baker ran a sectional-record 2 minutes, 15,31 seconds in the 800 and anchored the 4×800 relay team that also included Katherine Rumsey, Kyleigh Wolf and Brianna Newell to a sectional-record 9:27.61.

“I was pretty happy with it,” Baker said. “After the 4×800, my legs were a little tired, so I was a little bit nervous going into the 800. But when I started warmup, my legs felt great. So I knew that it was my race.”

Newell and Rumsey also came back from the 4×800 to win individual events. Newell took the 1,600 in 5:13.53, while teammate Abby Jacobi was second in 5:27.23.

“I’m happy with tonight and I think my and my team made a huge step forward,” Newell said. “We’re just making all the gains necessary to set ourself up for a really good regional and state, so I’m really looking forward to that.”

Rumsey won the 3,200 in 11:08.44, while Julia Kiesler took second in 11:12.13.

“I felt really strong,” Rumsey said. “The 3,200 was kind of a weird race because I ran most of it alone, and there was no timer, so I kind of didn’t know what time I was running, but I was happy with the effort I put in, and I’m excited for regional and state.”

North’s Julie Klaus finished second in the 800 (2:17.30), becoming the second-fastest 800 runner in school history behind Baker. Sierra Newell took third in the long jump (16 feet, 3 3/4 inches), and the Bull Dogs were third in both the 4×100 (51.95) and 4×400 (4:11.44) relays.

Beyond the top three, the next-best four performances in each event get call-backs to Tuesday’s Franklin Regional, and North will have several of those moving on.

Sierra Newell (9-0) and Marieme Niang (8-6) finished fourth and fifth in the pole vault, Kylah Lawson took fifth in the long jump (15-8 1/2) and Moana Steele (37-6 3/4) and Alivia Steinkoenig (36-10 3/4) were fifth and seventh in the shot put. Jessica Meza (1:02.09) and Ava Collier (1:03.15) finished fourth and fifth in the 400, and Natalie Ho was sixth in the 200 (27.33).

“Our relays ran really well, and then obviously the distance,” North coach Rick Sluder said. “Our distance girls ran phenomenal. Our sprinters did well. In the long jump, we got a nice surprise with Sierra Newell moving on. It was an outstanding night all the way around. We’re going to have a nice busload coming back up here next week.”

Meanwhile, Gray became the only Olympian to automatically advance with a top-three finish. She won the 300 hurdles in 47.32.

“I was a bit nervous having to be in Lane 9,” Gray said. “They actually got my time wrong on the sheet, so I should have been in the inner lanes. But being in Lane 9 really got me overthinking about myself because it’s kind of the worst lane, but I pulled through.”

“I’m really excited about Emma’s time tonight in the 300s,” East coach Jesse Shoaf added. “It was good to get a sectional champ there.”

Gray also will receive a call-back for her fourth-place finish in the 100 (12.79), as will Taylor Scott, who was fifth in the 100 (13.08). Chloe Krueger, who took fourth in the 1,600 (5:39.89) and Megan Tracy, who was sixth in the discus (110-6), also will get call-backs, along with East’s fourth-place 4×100 relay (51.97) and fifth place 4×400 relay (4:18.73).