The Warren Central girls track team came tantalizing close to capturing a state title last year, finishing as runner-up by two points to Pike and its superstar sprinter, Lynna Irby.
But Warren Central coach Le’gretta Smith says this year Warriors’ team is deeper than any team she’s coached. That could be the difference between finishing runner-up again at state and winning it.
The Warriors’ depth was on full display Tuesday night at North Central, as Warren Central ran away with its second straight Marion County title. The Warriors finished with 119 points, followed by Pike (83) and Ben Davis (64).
“County is just a milestone for us,” said Warren Central senior sprinter Bryeana Byrdsong, who finished first in the 100 meters and second in both the 200 and 400 relay. “This is just preparing us for state. Our ultimate goal is to win state.”
Warren Central, which won the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference title two weeks ago, had 14 athletes finish in the top three spots, including three wins.
The Warriors, the state’s top-ranked team, started the night strong, placing 1-2 in the 100 hurdles. Last year’s state runner-up in the event, Warren Central junior Kayland Jackson, finished first in 14.96 seconds, while her teammate, Kennedy Batts, placed second (15.84).
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In the next event, the 100-meter dash, Byrdsong ran away from the field in 12.42. Warren Central’s 1,600-meter relay team of Ashley Baker, Dejah Johnson, Kennedy Batts and Tiler Tyler also finished first in a time of 3:55.56.
“We talk about scoring when you can,” Smith said. “We have to get that point even if it’s just one point. Every point counts.”
The Warriors found that out in painful fashion at last year’s state meet when they finished with 48 points, compared to Pike’s 50. Irby – who only ran the 200 on Tuesday – scored the majority of the Red Devils’ points in the state meet.
“It’s always nice to win the county, but our ultimate goal is to win a state title,” Smith said. “We’re deeper this year, and they know what I expect of them. We can only control what we can control. We come out to win, and we want to win. We have to put together a complete team to do that.”
Baker also finished third in the 200 and second in the 400 relay, while Jackson recorded a third place in the 300 hurdles and had a second-place effort in the 400 relay.
“I feel like our team chemistry is very deep this year,” Byrdsong said. “We’ve been working so hard this season. Everyone seems to be more hungry for the title.”
Irby, a junior who has won six individual state titles, didn’t compete in the 100 or 400 on Tuesday. But she did capture the 200 in 24.02, ahead of Byrdson’s (24.87) runner-up finish.
It was a strong runner-up finish for the fourth-ranked Red Devils considering how many points they left on the table without Irby competing in several events. Pike didn’t field a 400 relay team.
Perry Meridian finished fifth thanks to strong efforts in the throwing events. Sadie Hill finished first in the discus with a toss of 126 feet, 8 inches, while Alexis Hill won the shot put with a throw of 42-0.