In 2016, the question was: Can Warren Central score enough points to beat Lynna Irby at the girls state track and field meet?
In 2017, the question is: Can Warren Central can score more points than any Indiana high school team ever has?
It is unlikely the Warriors can surpass the 93 points by Fort Wayne Northrop from 2003. Coincidentally, Northrop was pushed 14 years ago by Warren Central, which finished second with 85.
Warren Central’s winning score of 70 last year was third highest ever. This year’s team is better.
“Everybody’s coming for us,” said Le’gretta Smith, now in her sixth year as Warren Central’s coach. “We try to keep them motivated, keep them working hard. It’s tough being a target.”
Even tougher to beat Warren Central.
“I think everyone is fighting for second at this point,” Carmel coach Aaron McRill said.
Last week’s Hoosier State Relays, an unofficial state meet, capped the indoor season. Outdoor season ends with the state meet June 3, following sectionals May 16 and regionals May 23.
Warren Central has lost one major meet over the past three years, beaten by Pike (and Irby) 50-48 at the 2015 state meet. Irby is favored to become the first Indiana sprinter to win a four-year sweep of the 100, 200 and 400 meters.
Warren Central is ranked No. 1, followed by No. 2 Noblesville, No. 3 Zionsville and No. 4 Carmel. Pike is No. 6.
How loaded are the Warriors?
>> If not for Irby, sophomore Mikeisha Covington would be the most celebrated sprinter in Indiana. She was second to Irby in the 200 meters last year, then won a 200/400 double at youth nationals.
>> Senior hurdler Kayland Jackson is defending state champion and could become the seventh Indiana girl under 14 seconds for the 100-meter barriers.
>> They had four of the state’s seven fastest 400-meter runners indoors.
>> They have a genuine chance to have three hurdles state finalists, with Kennedy Batts and freshman K’ja Talley joining Jackson.
>> To show they are not all about sprints and hurdles, they finished fifth in the 3,200 relay at Hoosier State Relays and have returning state scorers in the long jump and shot put.
Neither Noblesville nor Zionsville, rivals in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference, has ever finished as high as second at state.
The Millers return all four from state runners-up in the 3,200 relay — Kat Dombroski, Susanna Sharples-Gordon, Ali Little and Maria Anderson — plus a high jumper, Shelby Tyler, who has leaped 5 feet, 9 inches. Anderson was fifth in the 400 and Little eighth in the 1,600.
“They’re good girls, but they’re just tougher than nails,” said Dennis Scheele, who has coached Noblesville runners for more than 30 years.
Zionsville has potential state champions in the field (high jumper Katie Isenbarger), hurdles (state runner-up Ella Robinson) and distances (indoor champ Sophia Rigg). Coincidentally, Isenbarger, a junior, and Jackson are both committed to Western Kentucky in volleyball.
Carmel won a seventh successive state title in cross-country and was fourth in last fall’s Nike nationals.
Carmel’s collection of distance runners includes Christina Geisler, second in the 3,200 at indoor state and fourth at state last year; Maddie Dalton, who was third to Geisler’s fourth at state cross-country; Sarah Leinheiser, state champ in cross-country as a junior, and miler Rachel Anderson, whose time of 4:59.06 is best of the bunch.
Call IndyStar reporter David Woods at (317) 444-6195. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.
Individuals to watch
>> Mikeisha Covington, Warren Central, So. Besides finishing second to Lynna Irby in 200 at state, Covington won a 200/400 double for girls 15-16 at youth nationals. Her bests are 24.26 and 55.00, respectively. Second in 60 by .01 (in 7.58) at indoor Hoosier State Relays.
>> Essence Henderson, Lafayette Jeff, Sr. Won indoor state with shot put of 47-9 ½, beating two-time state champ Victoria Farley of Portage. No. 7 in nation indoors. Defending state champ in discus at 151-1.
>> Lynna Irby, Pike, Sr. Georgia signee has won 22 national titles, starting with age-group track. She goes for an unprecedented quadruple triple of state titles in 100, 200 and 400. Won silver medal in 400 at last year’s under-20 World Junior Championships, plus two relay golds. During indoor season, she lowered her state records to 7.39 in 60 and 23.58 in 200, winning national title in the latter.
>> Katie Isenbarger, Zionsville, Jr. After twice finishing third, she could win first state title and become fourth Indiana girl to high jump 6 feet. Indoor best is 5-11.
>> Kayland Jackson, Warren Central, Sr. Defending state champion in 100 hurdles (14.00) could become seventh Indiana girl to break into 13s. Repeated as indoor 60 hurdles champ in record 8.58.
>> Semira Killebrew, Brebeuf Jesuit, So. Former age-group national champ is coming off big indoor season. Besides setting small-school record of 7.51 in 60 at Hoosier State Relays, she won emerging elite division of New Balance nationals in 7.49. Ranks No. 3 in nation among sophomores.
>> Madison Kiser, Pioneer, Sr. Won state 800 last year in 2:11.41.
>> Taylor Nicholson, Avon, Sr. Jump-roping champion and Wisconsin signee is coming off a stress fracture. She lowered 1,600 best to 4:49.23 last year in finishing second at state. She was also second in 2015 and state champion in 2014.
>> Ella Robinson, Zionsville, So. As a freshman, she was second in state 300 hurdles in 44.11.
>> Tyler Schwartz, DeKalb, Sr. State cross-country champ was 31st at Nike nationals, then third in 3,200 at indoor state.
>> Kyara Simmons, Ben Davis, Sr. Large-school state 60-meter indoor champion in 7.58. She was fourth at state in 100 and third in 200 in 2015, then sixth and seventh, respectively, in 2016.
>> Emma Wilson, Greencastle, So. As a freshman, she was sixth at state in 1,600 and 3,200 in 4:58.17 and 10:40.30. Ran state’s fastest indoor 3,200 this year, 10:45.22.