Third Time’s a Charm: Bull Dogs race to 4×800 relay state title

Columbus North’s Julia Kiesler, left, Julie Klaus, Lily Baker and Carys Glyn-Jones, right, celebrate winning the 4x800-meter relay in the Girls Track and Field State Finals at Indiana University, Saturday, June 3, 2023.

Paige Grider | For The Republic

BLOOMINGTON — In the 4×800-meter relay at last year’s Girls Track and Field State Finals, Julie Klaus gave Columbus North the lead with a strong third leg, and despite an even stronger anchor leg, Lily Baker couldn’t quite hang on for a title.

Saturday afternoon at Indiana University, Klaus gave Baker a similar lead. This time, Baker didn’t let it go.

Baker held off hard-charging Carmel and Bloomington South runners to finish in 9 minutes, 11.22 seconds and win their elusive state 4×800 title.

“I knew she was probably close to me, but I didn’t know exactly how close,” Baker said. “But I was just giving it what I had through the line.”

Sophomore Carys Glyn-Jones led off with a 2:18.85 split and had the Bull Dogs in seventh place.

“I got boxed in a little bit,” Glyn-Jones said. “I think I maybe could have gone a little bit faster, but the team could go ahead and win the race, so I’m happy all-in-all. It turned out well.”

Senior Julia Kiesler ran a 2:19.20 second leg to move North to second place. Klaus put them in first with a 2:19.10 split.

“I knew it was going to be close,” Klaus said. “I really like catching people in front of me. It’s my favorite part of the race. I knew it was the last time running an 800, and I wanted to make it count.”

Baker then closed with a 2:14.17 to pull out the victory.

“Carys ran unbelievable,” North coach Rick Sluder said. “She just got boxed and moved and pushed, and she hung on, so we were in it. Then Julia got is to the front and Julie got us the lead, and Lily brought it home. I love what those girls have done for our team the last three or four years, and they really deserve this. I’m so proud of them.

“We’re just excited as can be,” he added. “You don’t just get to win state titles. It’s just so rare, and they’ve been working for this. A couple of those seniors have been working for it for three years, and really four. They just didn’t get that freshman year of track because of COVID.”

All four of the relay runners also had individual events to compete in Saturday evening. Baker came back with a fifth-place finish in the 1,600 in 4:56.79.

“I had big dreams for the 1,600 this year,” said Baker, who is headed to University of Tennessee. “I wanted to medal, and I’m very content with how I ran, and I don’t know if I could have done anything differently. I think I gave that mile what I had, and I’m happy with the outcome.”

Kiesler, who is headed to Boise State, closed her high school career with a bang. She finished third in the 3,200 in a school-record 10:22.78.

“I actually think it’s good to run an event before since I would be waiting here for like 10 hours,” Kiesler said. “I think it helps my mentality. I’m not just sitting around getting nervous. I’m pretty happy with how the day went.”

Glyn-Jones finished 14th in the 800 in 2:18.22, and Baker took 23rd in 2:20.77. Klaus was 18th in the 3,200 in 11:14.76.

“Lily came back and ran an awesome mile,” Sluder said. “You almost wouldn’t know that she was doubling. She was really strong, and then Julia coming back and medaling just ran unbelievable. And then our other two girls, Carys ran a really strong 800 and Julie Klaus ran as well as she did last week in much tougher conditions. Our girls in our distance races tonight ran unbelievable.”