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Woodmen have pep in their steps

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Tori Harper and Rachel Krutulis pack a solid 1-2 punch for the Greenwood Community High School girls track and field team.

It was probably never more apparent than in the Mid-State Conference Meet at Plainfield on May 7.

Both athletes helped the Woodmen capture their first Mid-State championship in 30 years. Greenwood beat out host Plainfield by 11½ points.

In 1984, neither of the girls was yet born, of course. Blaine Williams, their coach, was only a few weeks old at the time.

Not surprisingly, the bus ride home from the Mid-State meet was no somber affair.

“We were excited. It was a dance party on the way home,” said Harper, noting an influx of solid talent and an equally important can-do attitude have made the difference this spring. “It’s a big accomplishment for us.

“We love our team and we work so hard.”

Krutulis, a senior, confirmed the trip home from the Mid-State was quite the joy ride.

“It was exciting. We were all yelling and screaming,” she said. “I never really imagined it because I didn’t think we had a shot. But our coach told us we had a chance this year, so we got pumped up and started working really hard.”

Harper, a sophomore, explained before the team arrived in Plainfield that the coaches had the meet mapped out in terms of scoring expectations — an Electoral College predictions layout of sorts.

As the meet approached the closing stages, pretty much all was going according to plan.

“We were told in the last four events, if we could take care of business now, we can win the championship,” Harper said. “We were only supposed to win by nine points, and we won by 11.”

Harper won the 100 hurdles at 16.83 seconds, placed fourth in the 300 hurdles and anchored the 1,600 relay team, which finished third.

Krutulis, meanwhile, was second in the 100 hurdles, was the runner-up in the long jump and helped the Woodmen’s 400 relay squad capture first.

“(Harper and Krutulis) are always reliable to get points and the 18 points they scored went a long way,” their coach said.

Both athletes will be among the confident members of the Greenwood team that competes in today’s sectional meet at Franklin Community High School in the 41st annual IHSAA state tournament for girls.

The Woodmen have never won a team title in a sectional competition. They would have to climb past the likes of perennial power Center Grove and defending team champion Columbus North to do it.

However, Greenwood definitely figures to improve markedly on its seventh-place team finish of a year ago.

That was clear when the Woodmen finished second to 10-time defending champion Center Grove by 34 team points in the Johnson County meet earlier this season.

Harper, a sophomore who was named the Performer of the Meet, won the 100 hurdles with a time of 16.42, and Krutulis was right behind in second spot.

Harper also captured first in the long jump with a personal-best leap of 16 feet, ¼ inch. Despite the heavy winds and having to delay her qualifying jumps because of the hurdles event, she snapped her own best-ever mark by nine inches.

“I had Tori in (English) class last year, and I knew right from the beginning she would do well,” Williams said. “She’s always positive and always works hard in the classroom and on the track.

“She has really bought into it and has put in so many hours of work.”

Krutulis has enjoyed a big year before.

As a junior, she had a day to remember in the county track and field competition on her home track in 2013. Krutulis won both hurdles races and topped the field in the long jump.

Williams was quick to credit Harper and Krutulis but lauds his entire team for making the 2014 season the most fun for all involved.

“I was thrilled to death for the girls,” Williams said. “We’re fortunate to have a group of seniors that brought positive leadership to the whole team.”

Williams noted Krutulis was front and center on that point, considering the extra time she’s constantly invested in practices.

Freshman power

Greenwood also had two freshman athletes shine brightly in the Mid-State meet.

Taylor Neely won the 200- and 400-meter dashes, and cross-country standout Allie Dalton was first in the 3,200-meter run with a meet-record time of 11:07.80. She also finished third in the 1,600 run.

Moreover, both competed on the winning 3,200 relay team, which posted a meet-record mark of 9:54.49.

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