Gusting winds were a strong force Tuesday at the Johnson County Girls Track and Field Meet, but Center Grove overcame the elements and the competition to post its 11th straight team title.
The Trojans took the team crown with 192 points, followed by Greenwood (158), Whiteland (119), Franklin (86), Indian Creek (43) and Edinburgh (2).
Greenwood’s Tori Harper won Performer of the Meet honors, taking two individual wins.
Center Grove coach Wes Dodson said his team’s performance was strong and fits in with his goals for this season.
“I have to be super-excited. Olivia (Rassel) got the school record in the 100 that stood since 1989 or something a long time ago, and we had a great 4x400 time all by ourselves,” Dodson said. “We won a lot of events today, so hopefully this will get us started because we have another big meet in a week and a half with conference. It’s good to score a lot of points.”
For Greenwood’s Harper, the meet began with a heat race and then the final in the 100 meter hurdles, which she won with a time of 16.42, putting up a 1-2 finish with teammate
Harper then scurried over to the long jump pit and also won that event with a jump of 16-0 ¼, beating Whiteland’s Brianna Accinelli’s jump of 15-8.
Harper’s jump was her personal record in the event, improving on her previous best by more than nine inches despite having to delay taking her qualifying jumps because of the hurdles. Rather than it being a hindrance, she said her work in the hurdles helped her in the long jump.
“In a regular event the events are pretty close together,” she said. “There’s not much time for rest because it’s constantly bouncing. It helped having two heats because it loosened my muscles up before I went over, and we still had that little break before I went over, so it kind of pumped me up.”
Center Grove set the tone for its performance on the evening with a convincing win in the 3200 relay, as the team of Alexa Kovacs, Lindsey Kovacs, Rachel Dever and Taylor Hickey won in a time of 10:18.44.
The Trojans took a 1-2 finish in the 100-meter dash, with Rassel recording a winning time of 12.14 seconds, edging teammate Kiara Mabien. Mabien won the 200 meters in 26.19, and Lauren Rau won the 400 for Center Grove in 1:02.62.
Center Grove raced to an authoritative win in the 400 relay, with the quartet of Aaliyah Clinker, Allison Utterback, Mabien and Rassel taking top honors in a time of 50.66.
The Trojans completed their relay dominance in the 1,600 as the team of Clinker, Rau, Rassel and Alyssa King won in 4:12.23.
Rassel is a freshman standout whose three first-place finishes on the night were punctuated by breaking the school record in the 100 meters. She said she didn’t single the county meet out, but rather uses it as another step to continue progressing toward her season goals.
“I try to get better every single event, that’s the goal,” she said. “I got my personal best in the 100. (The wind) kind of hurt in the 4x100 because of where I was on the track, but in the 100 it was good because it was at my back.”
Another strong performance came from Whiteland’s Danielle Muse, who won the 1,600-meter run, holding off a challenge from Greenwood’s Alexandra Dalton in the home stretch and recording a school record time of 5:14.26. Muse made it two for two in distances with a winning time of 2:26.57 in the 800 meters.
Muse said she was happy with the wins but wants to continue building on the performance as she pursues her goal of reaching the state meet.
“I’m happy for my 1,600 and 800 wins. I’ve been consistently running alone in the 1,600 and my times were in the 5:20s, so this was the first time I’ve been able to get under that and to break the school record is something we’re very excited about,” she said. “The 800 was pretty average considering what I usually do, but considering the wind and having run a 1,600 it was pretty good.”
In the other distance event, Greenwood’s Dalton won the 3,200 with a time of 11:49.15.
Center Grove’s Tori Long won the 300 meter hurdles with a time of 49.75. Long said the strong wind at the Franklin stadium on Tuesday impacted her event, but added that she tried to use it as a positive.
“I think it does (affect me) in a good way. My mom tells me that if you can get over it, it’s a mental advantage, kind of like having someone in front of you to chase. It’s a good encourager,” Long said. “I think I’m getting better every meet. I’m excited to see how much better I can be. In terms of technique I felt pretty good.”
In field events, Taylor Pennington defended her high jump title in the meet by clearing a height of 5-6, while Melissa Nelson of the Trojans won the pole vault with a winning height of 10-0. The weights were both won by Whiteland’s Madison Csaszar with distances of 36-3 in the shot put and 121-7 in the discus.
Csaszar said winning the event as a sophomore fulfills a personal goal but added she knows she can achieve better distances in each event.
“The distances were OK but I’ve had better,” she said. “There’s a hill that takes a few feet off your throw here and the wind affects you, especially in the discus. The shot put I’m pretty happy with because I was in third place until my final throw and I won.”