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County girls looking to earn medals, make memories

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A lot of dominoes must fall exactly right for 18th-ranked Center Grove to seriously contend for a team championship at today’s IHSAA Girls Track and Field State Finals.

Knowing this, Trojans coach Wes Dodson is focused more on the five events in which his program is primed to produce points as well as potential cherished lifetime memories.

“I guess our goal is to just get as many medals as we can,” said Dodson, whose 2012 version sent three athletes in four events to the award’s podium with a top-nine finish.

One of those, senior Tori Schoettmer, by this point should be able to make it to Indiana University’s Robert C. Haugh Complex in her sleep.


Here are the athletes from Johnson County taking part in today’s IHSAA Girls Track and Field State Finals at Indiana University. Next to each name is that person’s qualifying time, height or distance:

100: Melissa Rios, Whiteland (:12.53)

1,600: Tori Schoettmer, Center Grove (5:00.84)

3,200: Tori Schoettmer, Center Grove (11:10.18)

High jump: Taylor Pennington, Center Grove (5-7¼)

Pole vault: Melissa Nelson, Center Grove (11-3); Casey Elliott,

Center Grove (11-0)

3,200 relay: Center Grove (9:49.74)

Schoettmer last year placed fifth in the 1,600-meter run and eighth in the 3,200 after producing runner-up status in the 1,600 as a sophomore.

The soon-to-be University of Louisville Cardinal takes part in both events today.

“The thing about Tori is she’s been good since she was a freshman. I mean, four years is a lot of time, but she’s still an elite runner just like when she was a freshman,” Dodson said.

“Our goal is probably top five. If she can get better than that, we’ll definitely take it.”

Schoettmer’s 1,600 win at last week’s Shelbyville Regional came in a time of 5:00.84, fifth-fastest in today’s field. Her 11:10.18 in the 3,200 positions her 13th among 28 runners.

Her veteran presence contrasts with what local first-time state finalists are experiencing.

Whiteland senior Melissa Rios is one such athlete. Recognizable by the prescription goggles she wears during competition, Rios dominated the 100-meter dash at both the Franklin Sectional and Shelbyville Regional.

Today she’ll be in Lane 4 of the second of three preliminary heats vying for a spot in the finals.

“The big thing we try to do is keep the routine and stay calm. Just stay relaxed and do what we do,” Warriors coach Brandon Bangel said. “Start-wise, Melissa is not great, but she’s great the last 30 to 35 meters of a race. She maintains her speed throughout a race better than most girls.”

Rios is the lone non-Center Grove athlete among the local contingent.

Trojans sophomore Taylor Pennington is the No. 2 seed in the high jump after winning regional with a best jump of 5-foot-7¼. Only Oak Hill sophomore Janae Moffitt, who finished tied for seventh at the 2012 state meet, fared better at 5-9.

Trojans junior Melissa Nelson finds herself the 10th seed in the pole vault after clearing 11-3 at Shelbyville. Teammate Casey Elliott, a senior, is close behind at 11 feet even.

Also for Center Grove, the 3,200 relay team of Taylor Hickey, Shelbi Dishman, Morgan Lee and Jordan Timmons is seeded 23rd after placing third at regional in a time of 9:49.74.

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