KOKOMO – Make some more room in the overflowing trophy cases at WCHS for another piece of hardware.
The inspiring WCHS Unified track team earned a sectional trophy Saturday in postseason action at Kokomo High School.
The Tigers scored 119 points to grab the title and the trophy in one of six sectionals contested statewide in the event which became an IHSAA sanctioned sport in 2014. The top two teams from each sectional site, including Warsaw, will now compete in the State Finals on June 4 at Indiana University in Bloomington.
“When they called our name as the winning team it was a little surprising, but it was also really exciting,” said Julene Walker one of the two coaches for the Warsaw squad. “There was no way to know during the meet how we were doing or what the scores were. But it was really cool to see the kids hugging and high-fiving each other when they announced we had won it.”
Walker, who is a special education teacher at WCHS, and Sam Smyth are coaches for the team. Walker is in her second year and Smyth his third.
The Warsaw program knows a thing or two about success. The Tigers won the state championship in 2014 at IU in the inagural year of the event.
The Tigers had a host of strong performances Saturday to win the sectional title. The team had Jacob Green, Abria Federico, Joshua Jarrett and Marina Schuh compete in the 100. The foursome of Thomas Boyer, Meredith Phipps, Jeremy McCartney and Chandler Paul scored key points in the 400.
The 4 X 100 relay team of Cole Hoskins, Green, McCartney and Mark Wallen placed second.
The foursome of Emily Gilbertson, Thomas Boyer, Alexa Balestri and Jarrett earned valuable points in the long jump competition. The quartet of Balestri, Paul, McKenna Till and Jaylen Miller earned points in the shot put event.
Elkhart Central was runner-up Saturday with 107 points. Homestead placed third with 98 points with Kokomo fourth with 95 and Fort Wayne North fifth with 89. East Noble was sixth with 84 points, followed by Goshen (67), Carroll (66), Marion (39), Blackford (30) and Western (30).
The Warsaw team this Spring had about 20 kids competing. The Tigers had one home meet and four away meets prior to the sectional.
“One of the coolest things for me is how the kids get so excited for a meet,” Walker said. “And then to see how they all interact with each other. Everyone is friendly and encouraging of each other. It’s amazing to me to see the true unity.
“It’s unbelievable that it’s an official event now recognized by the IHSAA. It’s the real deal and it really makes this truly a part of our school and that is just incredible to see. It’s also great that there continues to be more growth and more schools with teams each year.”
The Warsaw team has a trio of members who have been with the program all three years of its existence. Seniors Jeremy McCartney and Morgan Swafford and junior Cole Hoskins are all seasoned veterans for the Tigers.
Walker expects the trip to the State Finals to be full of excitement.
“I think that the energy of the kids will be crazy for State,” remarked Walker. “It’s going to be a really cool experience for our kids who have never had this opportunity before.”
The Unified Track State Finals will begin at 1 p.m. on June 4 at the Robert C. Haugh Track Complex on the IU campus in Bloomington. The meet, which will be held prior to the Boys Track State Finals, will begin with the long jump and shot put events at 1. The 100 is set for 1:30, followed by the 400 at 1:45 and the 400 relay at 2:15.
The field for the state meet will include Warsaw, Elkhart Central, Michigan City, Crown Point, Noblesville, Fishers, Franklin County, Perry Meridian, Terre Haute North, Edgewood, Vincennes Lincoln and Jeffersonville. Sectional champions on Saturday were Michigan City (at Bremen), Noblesville (at Noblesville), Franklin County (at Brebeuf), Terre Haute North (at Edgewood) and Vincennes Lincoln (at Borden).