When Hagerstown’s girls track and field team lined up for a post-sectional photo Tuesday, smiles were hard to come by.
The Tigers led most of the night, but with the pole vault not allowed by the Tri-Eastern Conference due to safety and low numbers, according to coach Karen Matanich, Connersville sneaked past the Tigers at the end.
The Spartans scored 144 points to repeat as champions of their own sectional.
The Tigers were second with 138.
But when senior Hayley Rogers said, “I think we need a group hug,” everybody lit up.
“We had some teammates crying, had some people with their heads down. But without pole vault, we would have won, so there’s nothing to be sad about,” Rogers said. “We all gave our 110 percent throughout the meet, everybody did. There was just nothing we could do.”
The four-year distance standout has found different ways to bring smiles to the town of fewer than 2,000.
And some of that 110 percent effort was evident in the final event of the night when, despite the outcome in the hands of Connersville’s pole vaulters, the 1,600-meter relay team of Rogers, Sydney Denhart, Lindy Smith and Paige Gray made a late charge to finish first.
“I think that just goes to show the heart and competition that’s on this team,” Smith said. “These girls try. We work so hard in practice and there’s no way we’re going to let that go to waste, no matter what the final standings is going to be. As far as everyone who’s advancing, we’ve worked so hard to get here.”
Rogers, Denhart, Smith and Macy Felton are seniors and helped the Tigers win a fourth straight TEC title last Thursday and put them every bit in contention for a second sectional title in three years.
Smith won both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, Rogers won the 800, Aimee Hoodlebrink won the long jump and the Tigers finished first with the 1,600-meter relay team.
Smith also helped Marissa Matanich, Madeline Henley and Hoodlebrink finish second in the 400 relay and Rogers was second in the 1,600 and helped the Tigers finish second in the 3,200-meter relay, along with Amelia Dick, Gray and Hannah Rogers.
Dick was second in the 3,200, Denhart in the 400 and Beka Elza in the shot put; Hoodlebrink was third in the 200; Kaylani Dale advances with a fourth-place finish in the 300 hurdles; and Hailee Garrison placed fourth in the high jump.
The top four place winners advance to next Tuesday’s regional at Shelbyville.
The top three place-winners there move to the June 6 State Finals.
Lincoln’s Kassidy West won the 100 and the 200, Union County’s Trisha Spivey won the high jump and Richmond’s 400-relay team of Lanaeya Hogg, Stormy Carlin, Merab Murphy and Tahsiah Ferguson was victorious.
For a second straight year, Richmond sophomore Ferguson advances in all four of her events.
“It’s pretty good. I’m proud of my team and what I’ve done,” Ferguson said.
She was second in the 200, and third in the 100, while helping the 1,600 relay team of Jada Hunter, Chloe Conley and Aubrianna Gibb finish third.
Also advancing for Richmond are Sarah Richards (second in discus, third in shot put), Hogg (second in 100), Deja Long (third in discus) and Conley (fourth in 400), as the Red Devils finished fourth with 83.5 points.
Rushville was third with 85.5.
“Sarah Richards and Deja Long both threw well in the shot and discus. … And of course our sprinters,” Richmond coach Ken Hittson said.
“I knew coming into it Connersville and Hagerstown would be difficult to beat, and they ran well. I have to hand it to them, they came and performed. I was pleased with how we performed.”
Union County’s Jordan Frazee finished second in the long jump, while teammate Mackenzie Schulte was third in the event and Patriot Rene Risch was third in the 800.
“Very pleased,” Union County co-coach Joe Davidson said. “We’re still PR-ing, we’re still peaking. It feels great for us. We’ve got things to build on for next year for those that didn’t advance. And set some PRs for those athletes, and those who are advancing are also PR’ing, so we’re peaking at the right time.”
Centerville’s Ashley Foster was third in the 100 hurdles and teammate Shelby Short was fourth in the 3,200. Additionally, the Bulldog quartet of Abbie Dillman, Anna Hawk, Short and Ashley Toschlog advances with a fourth-place finish.
Seton Catholic’s Sarah Hornak advances with a third-place finish in the 400 and helped Maggie Kinsey, Ashley Miller and Julia Reichley finish fourth in both the 400 and 1,600 relays.
Reichley finished fourth in the 200 as did West for Lincoln in the long jump.
“Both my relay teams are going, probably nobody expected us to get there,” Seton coach Brandy Wells said. “It was a good night for Seton.”