Tori Long and Allie Dalton took different paths to winning medals at Saturday’s Girls Track and Field State Finals.
Long, a Center Grove senior, had been a 300-meter hurdler for most of her career before switching to the 400 for this year’s sectional. Dalton, a Greenwood sophomore, has always been a distance runner and dropped the 1,600 after the sectional to focus on the 3,200.
Both moves paid off for the runners. Long finished seventh in the 400, and Dalton took eighth in the 3,200 after running all but the final 20 meters in second place.
“I love the 3,200,” Dalton said. “I love the distance. I want to run marathons when I’m older. I feel real comfortable running the longer distances, and it’s what my heart is set on.”
Dalton stayed with two-time defending state champion Anna Rohrer of Mishawaka for the first 1,600 meters, going through the midway point in 5 minutes, 1 second. Rohrer pulled away to win in a state-record 10:11:20.
“I thought I could do it,” Dalton said. “I wanted to stay with her as long as I possibly could. I just wanted to push myself as hard as I could, and I figured that if I did that, I might be able to stay with her longer.”
Dalton still had about an 80-meter lead on third place going into the final lap. But she began to fade coming down the final straightaway and ended up wobbling the final 35 meters. Six girls passed her just before the finish line, and Dalton crossed in 11:00.80.
“I was just hoping that my legs wouldn’t crumble,” Dalton said. “I was glad that I could make it without falling down.”
Even though her best time would have easily put her in second place, Dalton wasn’t second-guessing her strategy.
“I’ve been truly blessed by God to be able to race like that,” Dalton said. “I feel like it’s my duty as a Christian to use my gifts to glorify God, and that means testing myself and putting myself out there to test my limits.”
Long, meanwhile, was running the open 400 for only the third time this season and broke the Trojans’ school record for the second consecutive week. She finished in 57.13.
“I’m happy that I placed higher than my seeding,” Long said. “You can always do better, but I’m going to walk away happy.”
Long, who will run at Davidson College, finished 15th in 300 hurdles and ran on Center Grove’s fourth-place 4×400 relay team last year.
“My 4×400 time was going really well, so we went for it, and it turned out pretty well,” Long said. “I think I’m a 400 specialist. It’s definitely my baby.”
Saturday, Long teamed with sophomore Olivia Rassel, freshman Haley Goines and junior Lauren Rau to place ninth in the 4×400 relay in 3:59.06.
Rassell also finished 12th in the 200 in 25.26 and 14th in the 100 in 12.50. Goines took 18th in the 100 hurdles in 18.54, and junior Taylor Hickey was 22nd in the 800 in 2:22.29.
Greenwood’s 4×800 relay team earned a medal with an eighth-place finish. Sophomore Taylor Neely, Dalton, junior Maddy Renfro and freshman Kayla Rance ran 9:25.77.
Franklin’s lone state qualifier, junior Kinsley Castro, finished 19th in the discus with a throw of 113 feet, 1 inch.
The four points scored by both Center Grove and Greenwood landed them in a tie for 51st in the team standings. Pike edged Warren Central 50-48 for the title.