WARSAW – Jamie Lacheta’s smile Tuesday night was almost as wide as her Warsaw girls track team’s margin of victory.
Almost, but not quite.
Lacheta soared to her own sectional title in the high jump as the host Tigers soared as a team to yet another championship.
The Tigers won eight events in piling up 178 points to lay claim to their seventh straight sectional championship at the Tigers Athletic Complex.
Warsaw, on the warmest night of the season, turned up the heat to advance individuals or relay teams in 15 of the 16 events on to the regional.
The Tigers will look to defend their regional title next Tuesday back at home.
Lacheta was just many stars to shine brightly as the postseason kicked off with a bang for coach Scott Erba’s dominating program.
Lacheta, whose top sport is volleyball, cleared 5-4 to win the high jump championship. It was something special for the stellar senior, especially after placing ninth in the sectional a year ago and only cleaning 4-8.
“This means a lot to me,” said Lacheta, who will play volleyball at Valparaiso University. “My main goal tonight was to jump the best I could and qualify for the regional. I just went for it on my last jump and it felt beautiful.”
Lacheta, who was the top seed with a height of 5-3, says being healthy is the difference this year.
“It’s nice now to feel good all the time,” explained Lacheta. “I broke my leg my sophomore year and then last year I had shin splints. This year I’m healthy. Last year was frustrating to go out at 4-8. I knew I was the top seed tonight, but I didn’t put pressure on myself.”
Ann Harvuot continued her run of postseason success in a big way for Warsaw. The smooth junior won the 100 and 200 meter dashes in times of 12.61 and 25.96 respectively and ran the anchor leg of the winning 4 X 100 relay team.
“Overall, I feel pretty good about tonight,” said Harvuot, who won both the 100 and 200 sectional titles a year ago too. “I was pretty happy with my 200 and I’m pretty pleased with our 4 X 100.
“The 100 was not my best tonight. I got off to a terrible start and didn’t feel very smooth. I finally pulled it out. It’s a lesson learned. I was exhausted tonight.”
Stellar sophomore Tennie Worrell repeated as champion in the 400 for Warsaw. Worrell clocked in at 1:00.05 to claim the title.
Senior Sam Jensen stepped up to claim the discus title for the Tigers. Jensen, who was second in the event in 2012, had a top throw of 114-11.
Senior Sarah Ray, competing in her first track sectional, won the 3,200 for Warsaw in 11:13.34. The three-sport athlete bounced back after taking second in the 1,600 to Northridge junior Olivia Golden.
Junior Jackie Ferguson won the 100 hurdles in a time of 15.71 for the Tigers. She also took second place honors in the 300 hurdles for her championship squad.
The Tigers had eight individuals qualify for the regional with top four finishes. That impressive list included sophomore Mariah Harter (third in the 100), freshman Sam Alexander (third in the 200 and fourth in the long jump), sophomore Megan Kratzsch (third in the 400), freshman Hannah Dawson (second in there 800), sophomore Nicole Eckert (third in the 300 hurdles), junior Claire Hickerson (second in the pole vault), senior Megan Dearlove (fourth in the pole vault) and junior Courtney Farling (second in the long jump).
Warsaw also advanced all three of its relay teams. The 4 X 100 group of Harvuot, Harter, Alexander and senior Brittney Rhodes won in a time of 49.91. The Tigers placed second in the 4 X 400 relay with the team of Dawson, Eckert, Worrell and Ferguson and third in the 4 X 800 with the team of junior Aletheia Burritt, freshman Claire Kehler, freshman Brooke Rhodes and junior Madeline Hooks.
“It almost happened,” said Warsaw coach Scott Erba of his goal of advancing someone in every event to the regional. “This is the most regional qualifiers we’ve had.
“Hat’s off to these young ladies. This is a big deal. They put the work in and you want to see results and see them rewarded like this as they should be. We’ve had strong and deep teams the last seven years to win the sectional.
“We had two long jumpers advance and that’s a bonus and it was huge to get two pole vaulters through. Tonight was a huge confidence boost for Jamie (Lacheta). Ann has had a big maturation on her part in the last year and I was really pleased to see how Sarah Ray came back in the 3,200. Olivia Golden ran a fantastic 1,600. And Brittney Rhodes came back and ran a great leg on our winning 4 X 100 relay after clipping a hurdle earlier.”
Other individual sectional champions were Northridge junior Olivia Golden in the 1,600 (5:07.46), Concord junior Jessica O’Connell in the 300 hurdles (45.22), Elkhart Memorial sophomore Sierra Moore in the 800 (2:18.33), Northridge junior Christina Juroff in the long jump (16-01), Northridge senior Madison Stewart in the shot put (40-04.75) and Fairfield senior Sophie Brown in the pole vault (11-9).
Brown set the lone sectional record Tuesday night. Her top effort of 11-09 to win the pole vault eclipsed the old sectional mark of 11-06.75 that she set in 2012.
The Northridge team of Morgan Blyly, Mandy Campbell, Mackenzie Gray and Jennifer Schrock won the 4 X 800 relay in a time of 9:55.55. The Concord team of Ciana Bonfiglio, Casey Buchanan, Marian DeFreese and Jessica O’Connell won the 4 X 400 in a time of 4:04.12.
Lakeland Christian Academy, making its first-ever appearance in an IHSAA sectional, scored 11 points.
Senior Hailey Nieveen placed fourth in the 100 hurdles in a time of 16.83 to lead the Cougars and earn a spot in the regional. She also earned a regional berth in the 300 hurdles with a fourth place performance in a time of 49.47.
The 4 X 400 relay team of Hannah Remington, Emilee Catron, Carissa Urschalitz and Nieveen placed eighth for LCA in a time of 4:30.56.
Warsaw dominated the team standings with 178 points. Northridge was a distant second with 85 points, followed by Elkhart Central (83), Concord (76), Elkhart Memorial (61), Fairfield (31), Goshen (24.5), Jimtown (23.5), Wawasee (20), Elkhart Christian Academy (16), NorthWood (15) and Lakeland Christian Academy (11).
Warsaw’s Alexander was the only scratch for the regional following the meet. The Tiger freshman was scratched from the 200 next week.