The Columbus East and Hauser girls track teams will have different head coaches this year, but they won’t be new to those positions.
Veteran head coaches Glen Brown at East and April Dalton at Hauser both are returning after one-year absences. They’ll look to lead those teams to big things, while Rick Sluder hopes to keep things rolling at Columbus North.
Here is a look at those three, along with other area schools heading into the 2023 season:
The Bull Dogs will look to defend their Conference Indiana championship, led once again by a standout distance crew.
Seniors Lily Baker (who has committed to Tennessee) Brianna Newell (Navy) and Julie Klaus return from the state runner-up 4×800-meter relay team. Baker also placed sixth in the 800, senior Julia Kiesler (Boise State) took sixth in the 3,200 and Klaus was 12th in the 800. Newell also was a state qualifier in the 1,600.
Sophomore Kyleigh Wolf ran on the 4×800 relay team for part of last season and could fill that fourth spot this season. Seniors Ellen White, Sydney Morlok and Jessica Meza and freshman Ainsley Sherlock also ran on the state runner-up cross-country team in the fall.
Meza and sophomore Ava Collier were regional qualifiers in the 400, and senior Natalie Ho was a regional qualifier in the 200. Sophomore Sierra Newell was a regional qualifier in the long jump and pole vault, and senior Marieme Niang made in the pole vault. Senior Moana Steele was a regional qualifier in the shot put.
“They’ll score a lot of points,” North coach Rick Sluder said. “I think our distance might lead us, but we’re going to get a lot of points from our sprints and our throws during the season.”
Junior Abby Schiefer will join Steele in the throwing events. Sierra Newell also will compete in the sprint events.
“We have a lot of new girls, a lot of young girls out, and they’re getting better every practice,” Sluder said.
Columbus East’s Taylor Scott, left, and Emma Gray run the 100-meter finals during the sectional track and field meet Tuesday May 17, 2022, at Franklin.
The Republic file photo
The Olympians return a solid contingent of athletes and will look to build upon that this spring.
“Our big goal is, we want to do well in the sectional and conference,” Brown said. “It seems this year, we’re a little bit better well-rounded. We have people in all the events. I think we’re going to do pretty well in our dual meets. The first one with Bloomington South will be a good test for us early because they’re always good.”
Senior Emma Gray was a regional qualifier in the 300 hurdles and 100 and also runs the 100 hurdles. Senior Megan Tracy in the discus, junior Taylor Scott in the 100 and senior Chloe Krueger in the 1,600 also were regional qualifiers.
Junior Jenna Guse and senior Norah Dwenger ran on the regional-qualifying 4×400 relay team. Junior Gabbie Meier, a three-time state diving qualifier, is back in the high jump, and juniors Carly Otte and Victoria Cuhadar return in the middle distance events.
East has several young sprinters, along with junior newcomer Messiah Trapp, who will run the 200 and 400.
“We have a bunch of freshmen and sophomores that are really wanting to try and push our sprinters, so we’re hoping for good things from those girls, too,” Brown said.
The Jets will have a small team with only nine girls this season.
Sophomore Lily Roll was Hauser’s top long jumper and sprinter. Junior Grace Hattabaugh returns in the sprints and 400, senior Reiss Kistler is back in the distance events and senior Bronwyn Newcomb returns in the sprints.
Sophomore basketball player Norah Berkenstock is out for track for the first time and could be a sprinter. Freshman Charleston Gelfius could be a middle distance runner, and freshman Kaylee Riley could run middle distance or sprints. Freshman Erica Harker in the team’s lone thrower, and sophomore Rose Roll could add depth in the sprints.
“They all have a great work ethic,” Dalton said. “They want to do well. They all have good attitudes, and I feel like they’re willing to put in the work to hopefully improve throughout the season — and that’s what I emphasize — and then peaking when it comes to tournament time.”
The Panthers have a solid returning cast and have added some promising newcomers.
Junior sprinter and pole vaulter Rachael Manning, sophomore 400 runner and high jumper Sasha Hicks and junior thrower Cheyenna Leslie qualified for regional last year. Seniors Halle Franks and Grace Gambrel and sophomores Avery Willhite and Haley Vogel return from the regional-qualifying 4×800 relay team.
Other top returners are sophomore Alexa Mollenhoff and junior Emilee Baugess in the hurdles and sophomore Emerson Bennson in the long jump.
Three sophomores who did not run track last year, but compete in other sports, are out for the team. Mallory Manowitz will run sprints and hurdles, Avynn Belding will do the sprints and high jump and Maddie McIntosh will run the 400 and 800.
“We’re looking strong,” Jennings coach Amanda Young said. “The numbers this year are more than we’ve had in the past, and that’s good to see. It’s fun to see the program growing. Last year, we had a focus of, ‘Get better. Get stronger,’ and we’ve done that.”
The Eagles will once again be led by Hadley Gradolf, a returning state qualifier in the 3,200.
Senior Xyleigh Thompson was a regional qualifier in the high jump. Other top returners are senior Alli Majors in the 100 hurdles and Lizzie Roush in the shot put.
“All of these girls are anxious to improve on where they left off in the 2022 season and have something to prove,” Brown County coach Jay Myers said.
Other top returners are Livie Austin, Megan Cumberledge and Madalyn Purlee in the distance events, Clare Endris in the throws and Iris Ford in the sprints. Top newcomers are freshmen Sadie Hiatt, Alana Johnson, Jovi Nabors, Morgan Osborn and Kalyani Schilling.
“This season is yet another opportunity for the Eagles to show that they are small but mighty on the track when they take on the powerhouses of Columbus North and Bloomington North/South in head-to-head competitions,” Myers said. “What they lack in numbers, they make up for in heart and love for the sport.”
The Cougars will look to defend their Mid-Hoosier Conference title.
Madisyn Danforth was a regional qualifier in the long jump. Maria Nobbe was the conference champion in the 300 hurdles; and Kiley Best, Clair Schoettmer, Danforth and Zoe Meer teamed to win the 4×100 relay at the MHC meet.
Other top returners include seniors Bridgett Nobbe in middle distance and Elizabeth Flessner in the distance events.
”Our team is small, but nearly half of it is made up of a group of strong junior athletes,” South Decatur coach Sariina Kalli said. “We had a good group of athletes in the weight room over the winter, and those putting in miles on their own, so the off season went well. We feel like we’re a little bit ahead of the game compared to previous years, and we’re looking forward to getting outside and building on everything we’ve started.”
After having only one girls competitor last season, the Lancers have five to begin this year.
Junior thrower Alanna Hobbs is the lone returner. She will be joined by sophomore Shyleigh Goble and freshmen Kenna Streeval Addi Crawhorn and Jaycee Burton.
“We had one girl last year, so it will be exciting to have more girls participating this year and able to have more girls in events,” Edinburgh coach Amy Schilling said. “They work hard and are learning different events so we will look to improve as the season progresses.”
Sophomore Emalee Goss, who finished fourth in the regional in the high jump, one spot from qualifying for state, returns to lead the Cougars.
Sophomores Ava Blomenberg in sprints and hurdles and Cheyenne Campbell in the middle distance events are the other top athletes.
“I’d like to see (Goss) get to state, and I’d love to see Cheyenne be a regional qualifier,” Trinity coach Keith Dyer said.
The 2023 girls track schedules for Bartholomew County schools:
April 1;Bloomington South;10:30 a.m.
April 4;Seymour;5 p.m.
April 8;at Columbus North Invitational;11a.m.
April 11;Shelbyville;5:30 p.m.
April 13;Jennings County, Brownstown Central;5 p.m.
April 18;at Bloomington North;5:30 p.m.
April 20;at Columbus North;5 p.m.
April 28;at East Central Invitational;5 p.m.
May 2;at Brown County;5 p.m.
May 9;HHC at Jennings County;6 p.m.
April 4;at Bloomington South;6 p.m.
April 8;Columbus North Invitational;11 a.m.
April 11;BrownCounty;5:30 p.m.
April 14;at Franklin Central Distance Showcase;6 p.m.
April 20;Columbus East;5:30 p.m.
April 22;at Brown County Talon Relays;10:45 a.m.
April 22;at Pike Invitational;11 a.m.
April 28;Conference Indiana at Bloomington North;5:30 p.m.
May 9;Franklin;6 p.m.
March 28;at Jennings County;5:30 p.m.
April 3;Crothersville;5:30 p.m.
April 6;at Morristown (with South Decatur);5:30 p.m.
April 11;at Indianapolis Lutheran;5 p.m.
April 17;Waldron, Triton Central;5 p.m.
April 21;at Edinburgh Lancer Relays;5 p.m.
April 25;at Batesville (with North Decatur, Jac-Cen-Del);5 p.m.
April 28;Indy Genesis;5:30 p.m.
May 4;at Southwestern (Shelby);5 p.m.
May 9;MHC at Waldron;5 p.m.