West Lafayette’s girls track team loves to pile up big points by winning the relay events.
Yet some of the Red Devils’ 400 relay members surprised even themselves when they joined the victory party at Tuesday’s Harrison Sectional.
“We kind of just threw together a team, and it worked out so well,” West Lafayette junior Shelby Mann said after she and her 400 relay teammates came within six-hundredths of a second of the sectional record. “And our other two, we love winning those. We know we can get points there.”
Mann ran on two of West Lafayette’s three winning relays, a sweep that helped propel the Red Devils to the team championship at Rickard Field.
McCutcheon’s Elizabeth Burton broke her own sectional record in the 400 and also won the 200. Harrison’s Georgia Lawlor was another dual winner, taking both the high jump and the 100 hurdles.
But West Lafayette won eight events and ended Harrison’s four-year reign of sectional championships, totaling 159.5 points to the Raiders’ 123. The Red Devils also qualified 18 entries for next week’s West Lafayette Regional via top-four finishes.
“I remember freshman year we lost by two points, and that still is in my memory,” said Mann, who teamed with Whitney Tudor, Heather Lucht and Katie Bittner to on the 400 relay victory. “Beginning of the season, we definitely knew we had the talent, and everybody wants to win it. So we came here today and were like, ‘Let’s do it.’ “
West Lafayette received another unexpected victory from junior Michelle Bower. Seeded fourth coming in, Bower beat her previous best by six and a half inches, and that preliminary effort of 16-9½ held up as the winning leap.
“It didn’t really feel like a good jump, and I thought they said 15-9,” Bower said. “I didn’t actually think I did that good at first.”
West Lafayette’s Susan Hubbard, Erin Brophy, Rachel Bales and Cailey Daluga opened the meet with a 3,200 relay victory. Angely Philip, Mann, Kristen Johnson and Katie Bittner closed it by taking the 1,600 relay.
Daluga won the 800, Bittner won the 300 hurdles and Bobbie Burgess won the 3,200 by 30 seconds. Kristen Johnson finished second to her twin sister Lauren in the 1,600.
Burton broke the 400 record last season by winning in 59.05 seconds. She obliterated it again this year by winning in 57.73 and took down the Mavericks’ school record (58.0) in the process.
No one else in the field broke the one-minute mark.
“At the beginning of the season, my coach told me, I’m going to get you down that far,” said Burton, who had enough left in the tank to win the 200 going away as well. “That was an idea that was so far off, I was like, no, that’s not happening. For it to actually happen is an overwhelming feeling, honestly.”
Tough competition in bigger meets, such as last week’s Hoosier Crossroads Conference championships, paid off for Burton, Lawlor and other competitors. Lafayette Jeff swept the throws, with junior Martina McQuay winning the discus and senior Alessandra Aikerson-Russell taking the shot put.
Other competitors successfully stepped up to a higher level. Rossville junior Jensen Sheets, who didn’t advance out of the prelims last season while coming back from a torn ACL, won the 100.
“It was just immediate, like, mind explosions,” said Jensen, who also qualified in the 200 and on the 400 relay. “Instant smile from ear to ear, that’s for sure.”
Clinton Prairie junior Abby Clark’s cheering section erupted when she cleared 10 feet en route to her first sectional title.
“Regionals wasn’t really in my mind — it was the 10 foot I wanted to get,” Clark said. “I just wanted to PR; make it my best. I knew that if I came in not nervous about making it anywhere that something good could happen.”
Meeks sets discus mark
Purdue recruit Chelsie Meeks of Rensselaer shattered the Kankakee Valley Sectional discus record, winning the event by more than 43 feet Tuesday night.
Meeks’ best throw of 144-6 eclipsed Valparaiso’s Kelly Compton’s mark of 134-5, set in 2002. North Judson’s Andi Kinsler was second at 101-2.
Laura Tonner gave Rensselaer two sectional champions, winning the 300-meter hurdles in 49.28 seconds. West Central’s 3200 relay team of Ashton Barkho, Madysen Krintz, Gretchen Blackburn and Mickayla Wenzel edged Kankakee Valley in 10:23.05.