WARSAW – The Warsaw girls track team made sure everyone knew about what it accomplished Tuesday night. Even to its own public address announcer, Dave Baumgartner.
As Baumgartner filed through the final scores of the Warsaw Girls Track Sectional, his announcement of the Warsaw’s championship-winning 134.5 points had secured the Lady Tigers “a twelfth straight championship”, to which the huddled Tiger team at midfield of the football field all looked up and screamed, “13!”
Warsaw had just three event championships among its continued tour de force in local track, but nine athletes cracked the top three and a guaranteed regional qualification, all three of its relays move on, and four more are on the bubble after finishing fourth.
Headlining Warsaw’s night was its opening 4×800 relay, which won the race at 9:47.97, a full 12 seconds faster than Elkhart Central’s runner-up effort. Makayla Clampitt exacted a bit of revenge in the 100 dash finals, after placing third in prelims at 12.97, turned on the jets to win going away at 12.50. And Caitlin Kehler etched her name in Warsaw lore with a clearance of 11-6 in pole vault, tying the school record and outdueling Wawasee’s Jada Parzygnot by four inches.
“A lot of it centers around coming up in this program, you learn about the long list of history and about the athletes that have put us in a place to be where we are at,” said Warsaw head coach Megan Davis. “It’s about the amount of work put in, how much you care. We say it over and over at practice, you have to work for today like you are trying to win a state title. If we raced just on paper, yeah, we’d win just based off of tradition. But a lot of the girls worked to get themselves into positions to make their own marks on the program.”
Warsaw’s distance corps brought in a pair of runner-up finishes, with Adree Beckham in the 1600 (5:16.63) and Wini Barnett in the 3200 (11:34.51), the 4×400 relay was second (4:04.21), the duo of Grayson Kilburn (5-3) and Kennedy Lauck (5-2) went 2-3 in the high jump, and achieving third place were Michaela Buriff in the 300 hurdles (48.76), Remi Beckham in the 800 (2:24.91), Abby Steffensmeier in long jump (15-11) and the 4×100 relay (51.10).
“Every season its a new group of kids, and this season we are seeing a young group of kids come in with the returners,” noted Davis. “Watching us get caught in the 4-by-4 is alarming for some, but it just shows us an area we need to work on, maybe some changes we may need to make or changes in racing strategy. Certainly give it to Northridge for finishing that race off.
“Our 4-by-1, that one, we are pretty much building a new one. We took our two kids that run the curves out of the equations from last year, and trying to make that same success with basically a brand new alignment, that’s difficult to replicate. And to assume a top three is tough, so I was really happy to see them pull through and get into regionals.”
Wawasee advances five events to the regional round, boasting of a champion in Parzygnot with her long jump of 16-6. Not needing to go far, Parzygnot moved over one lane and finished second to Kehler in pole vault at 11-2. Also in the field, Sara Pritchard moved on in discus in third (107-1). Wawasee’s 4×800 relay ran a 10:09.72 to take third and Bailey Mayhew won her heat of the 400 and made the time stand up for third (1:01.93).
NorthWood also had a championship with its 4×100 relay, which motored to a 50.71 title. It’s 4×400 relay is also a regional qualifier, rallying late to take third (4:10.11). It’s 4×800 relay, along with Riley Hershberger in the 100 and Sara Lopez in the 800, all will await callbacks after taking fourth.
Memorial finished second with 84.5 points and Concord third at 82. Northridge (72), Columbia City (56), Elkhart Central (48), NorthWood (46), Wawasee (42), Fairfield (32) and Goshen (16) rounded out the team standings.
Individual champions from other schools included Mariah Schaefer of Columbia City in the 100 hurdles (15.95), Morgan Dyer of Elkhart Memorial in the 1600 (5:08.55) and 3200 (11:17.77), Laila Nagy of Elkhart Memorial in the 400 (59.94), Karlee Lehman of Northridge in the 300 hurdles (47.68), Summer Cooper of Concord in the 800 (2:23.18), Janiyah Barnes of Concord in the 200 (26.36), Northridge in the 4×400 relay (4:03.45), Chloe Bontrager of Fairfield in high jump (5-3), Mia Pulianas of Elkhart Central in discus (119-01), and Felicity Clawson of Columbia City in shot put (36-11).
The Warsaw Girls Track Regional is set to begin at 6 p.m. next Tuesday.