OXFORD – The Benton Central girls track team repeated as sectional champions Tuesday with a mixture of veteran champions, track newcomers and a talented freshman scoring 151 points at its home Mallory Field.
Twin Lakes finished second with 111.50 and North White was third with 73. The Bison’s Evonnie Payne repeated as 100-meter hurdles champion with a time of 16.64 seconds and captured the high jump with a leap of 5-2. However, illness kept her out of two other events.
The Bison, though, had plenty of depth as freshman Isabel Weise won the 800-meter run and anchored Benton Central’s 3,200-meter relay team. Katie Shields, a Bison basketball standout who joined the track team for the first time this season, won both the shot put (36-113/4) and the discus (106-7). Both throws were Shields’ best of the season.
“We do have a lot of depth and that’s one of great things about this team,” Benton Central coach Ed Robson said. “Katie has had a lot of success playing basketball but she comes to work every day in practice and has a strong desire to get better. She’s been building to this in the shot put all season. Her throw in discus was a little bit of a surprise.”
Payne, who started on BC’s state-ranked basketball team with Shields, said she was looking to bounce back from her illness Tuesday to post a better time in the hurdles during regionals.
“I’m not feeling well but I was happy to get the wins,” Payne said. “My time was not where I want it to be if I want to go farther. My time in regionals, it will be better.”
Another basketball player running track for the first time, Twin Lakes senior Lauhren Pickett, also impressed, winning the 400-meter dash while anchoring the Indians’ team wins in the 400-meter relay and 1,600-meter relay.
Pickett, who said her mother talked her into going out for track this season, had missed a week of practice nursing a quad injury and Twin Lakes coaches said they did not know if she would be able to compete.
The Indians’ distance runner, Madeline Lilly, had one of the best runs of the meet, smashing a 15-year-old record in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 11:31.51. She bested the old record of 11:33.3 set by Christie Wood in 1990, despite facing chilly temperature and stiff wind on the backstraight.
“I thought I ran a good tactical race and I thought that I might have a shot at the meet record,” Lilly said. “For conditions, it wasn’t a bad time and I felt great.”
Benton Central led the meet wire-to-wire after field event wins by Payne and Shields to open the sectional, but the meet saw a number of solid performances. Frontier’s Emma DeWitt was a double winner in the 100 meter dash with a time of 13.69 and the 200-meter dash at 27.92.
“I tried really hard and I was happy to get the win in the 100,” DeWitt said.
North White’s Aly Scott defended her titles from last year, winning the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 49.20 and the long jump with a leap of 16-61/2.