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Center Grove finishes strong after relay to take 2nd place

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Center Grove experienced some disappointment and plenty of reason for optimism Tuesday at the IHSAA girls track sectional at Franklin Community High School.

The Trojans’ disappointment came via a failed baton handoff in the 400-meter relay, preventing a strong team from qualifying for next week’s Shelbyville Regional.

On the other hand, coach Wes Dodson’s team qualified 14 entrants in 12 events for the regional next Tuesday at Shelbyville.

Columbus North won the meet for the third consecutive year with 166 points, beating the runner-up Trojans by 37 points.

Among Johnson County schools, Greenwood finished fourth

with 42 points, Whiteland was fifth with 59, Franklin was seventh with 37, Indian Creek 10th with six, and Edinburgh and Greenwood

Christian tied for 12th with two points each.

In the 400 relay, the Trojans had the fastest time coming into the meet and were leading the race up to the final handoff. The baton fell to the track surface, however, resulting in a fifth-place finish, outside of the regional berths.

Dodson said the silver lining was evident in how his athletes responded to the setback.

Closing the meet out in style, the team of Tori Long, Aliyah Clinker, Lauren Rau and Olivia Rassel dominated the competition in the 1,600 relay in a time of 4:07.48. The group’s top time is third-best in the state this season.

“(The 400 relay was) very disappointing because it was a great team, but those kids handled it well and a number of them came back and won in the (1,600 relay),” he said. “They looked great, and that was with Olivia running four races where she normally runs three.

“I told them to keep their heads up and keep running because we have another race coming. They did a good job of that.”

Center Grove’s Taylor Pennington defended her title in the high jump, clearing a winning height of 5 feet, 2 inches. Her teammate Melissa Nelson won the pole vault with a winning height of 11-3.

Other Center Grove regional qualifiers include freshman Olivia Rassel in the 100 (second), Lauren Ralph in the 100 hurdles (fourth), Lauren Rau and Alyssa King in the 400 (second and fourth, respectively), Ali Calhoun in the discus (third) and Tori Long in the 300 hurdles (third).

Also advancing for Center Grove: Rassel and Kiara Mabien in the 200 (second and third, respectively), Shelbi Dishman in the 3200, Rachel Dever in the 800 (fourth) and the 3200 relay team of Valerie Clark, Dishman, Dever and Annie Gillum (third).

Dodson was pleased with the depth his squad showed.

“I thought we really competed well,” he said. “It didn’t go quite as planned because we were hoping to win and we came up short, but we had some really nice performances and kids who really stepped up.”

Greenwood started the meet in convincing fashion, the team of Victoria Byrne, Allie Dalton, Taylor Neely and Madison Renfro winning the 3,200 relay in a time of 9:51.9.

The Woodmen made it 2 for 2 in relays when the team of Taylor Allen, Sydney Hite, Rachel Krutulis and Jessica Thompson took first in the 400 relay in a time of 51.41.

Other regional qualifiers from Greenwood included Tori Harper in the 100 hurdles (third), Neely in the 400 (third), Dalton in the 3,200 (second) and the 1,600 relay team of Harper, Haley Hawyer, Byrne and Hite, which finished fourth.

Whiteland’s Danielle Muse won the 800 meters in a time of 2:22.15. Muse also qualified for the regional meet by finishing second in the 1,600. Madison Csaszar took second in the discus and third in the shot put.

Also qualifying for the Warriors was McKenna Gold with a fourth in the 800; and Alex Kirk, who placed third in the pole vault.

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