Don’t look now, but Franklin Community High School’s girls track and field team is peaking at the perfect time.
After winning five events and scoring 106 points to finish second in the team standings at its own sectional, coach Tim Leonard’s squad is qualified for 10 events at today’s Warren Central Regional.
“At this point what we want to stress is try to get to state. I think we’ve got some pretty good seeds, but, if not, finish up with your best effort of the year,” Leonard said. “Go out giving everything you’ve got.
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“Don’t get awed by the surroundings and things like that. In the past we’ve been at Shelbyville (Regional), and it’s not been a big deal. OK, we’re going to Warren, but it’s not like we haven’t been in a regional with them before.”
Forming the core of Leonard’s 29th girls team at Franklin are eight seniors, including Kinsley Castro, last week’s sectional champion in both the shot put and discus.
Castro, a state finalist in the discus a year ago (she placed 19th) who is ranked No. 4 in her class academically, said the Cubs’ attention to detail throughout the season helped get them to this point.
“We definitely have gotten better as the season has gone along. We have a lot of freshmen on this team, and I think that helps the older girls because we can show them what they’re doing wrong,” Castro said. “I know that for me ours it’s a lot of technique stuff.
“It helps me go back to the basics every single day in practice.”
Franklin senior Chayse Blackwell cleared 10-foot-3 to win the pole vault at the sectional. Classmate McKinley Purdy was part of the victorious 1,600 relay team and is qualified for the regional in the high jump.
“We’ve really worked to push ourselves in practice. I personally did a lot of preseason work, and we’ve been good about pushing each other,” Purdy said. “As a team we’ve worked to stay positive, and I think that’s paying off.
“Most seniors tend to slack off during their last season, but I wasn’t settling for fifth place in regionals. I want to win. I want to jump my PR (personal record), which hopefully would get me seeded to go to state.”
Sophomore Kloie Doublin picked up three blue ribbons at the sectional after winning the 100-meter dash in 12.90 seconds and the long jump with a best of 16-1¼. Doublin anchored the winning 1,600 relay that also includes junior Ally Parramore, Purdy and sophomore Emma Beavins.
Parramore takes part in both hurdles events after finishing second in the 300 lows and third in the 100 highs at sectional.
Other Franklin athletes competing today are freshman Megan Woods (100 hurdles), senior Brittany Hammond (discus), Beavins (300 hurdles) and the 3,200 relay comprised of seniors Sydney Fears and Blaec Kunze, soph Emma Treibic and freshman Chloe Selking.
Nearly three decades of coaching at Franklin have taught Leonard that teams can perform best at the early, middle or late stages of a season.
The latter is always the preference.
“Last year we had a pretty good year with a lot of young kids. With them being a year older and how they worked during the offseason, we thought we would be even more competitive. You never know what’s going to happen. Luckily, we’ve been able to stay healthy this season,” Leonard said.
“As the season kind of went on, I think when we got to the (Johnson County Meet) and ran well, I thought we maybe had a chance to have a pretty good year. Coming out of that we’ve seemed to gradually get better.”
IF YOU GO
What: Warren Central girls track and field regional
When: 6 p.m. today
Feeder sectionals: Franklin Community, Connersville, Warren Central, Franklin County
Advancement: Top three in individual events and relays — plus any individual or relay team meeting the 3 Participant Standard — qualify for the IHSAA Girls Track and Field State Finals on June 3 at Indiana University.