By Mike Deak
WARSAW – IFN keeps it rolling on the track in looks at the girls track season, as well as tying in unified track into the fold.
Warsaw had plenty to look forward to again this year. After winning the sectional for the 13th straight year, it was primed to return a host of its contributors once again. Two of its state finalists, senior Grayson Kilburn in high jump and sophomore Wini Barnett in the two-mile, were ready to score big again. Senior Abby Steffensmeier and junior Adree Beckham were also regional qualifiers who were set to compete for state appearances.
NorthWood made an appearance in Bloomington a year ago with it’s 4×100 relay, and had two of the four runners coming back in senior Reagan Hartman and sophomore Emma Martz. Juniors Alea Minnich and Kendal Miller were among those expected to contribute to the team’s season push.
Wawasee was looking forward to seeing what junior Bailey Mayhew could do after she helped the team to a 4×800 appearance at state last June. Mayhew was also a regional qualifier in the 400 dash.
Tippecanoe Valley and Triton were anxious to see what its offseason training could do, notably with the likes of junior Sidney Wagner and senior Valeria Jimenez out of Valley and sophomore Makenna May at Triton.
Looking at Unified Track and Field, Wawasee and Warsaw both competed at the Central Noble Sectional a year ago, Warsaw narrowly missing regional team qualification taking fourth and Wawasee landing in eighth place. Tippecanoe Valley also had a Unified team last year, taking eighth place at the Western Sectional. Elkhart Memorial was a sectional and regional champion and placed third in the team standings. Valpo is the defending Unified Track and Field state champion.
Grayson Kilburn, Warsaw: “At the beginning of the season, I was so excited and ready to improve from last year. I was working hard and really focused on becoming a better athlete for my last sports season. After the season got cancelled, I was still proud of myself and my team because I know that even when we could see the end coming, we still worked and practiced hard everyday. So even though I am greatly disappointed on how my senior season ended, I’m still proud and grateful for our accomplishments and our hard work. I am also extremely thankful for our amazing coaches who set up video meetings to keep in touch with us through this hard time and for always helping us do our best.
“I was absolutely heart broken. I was looking forward to this season all year and to pick up where we left off last season. Knowing that I will never compete in a high level meet again breaks my heart. Along with losing our last track season, we also lost our last quarter of high school. We won’t ever get to walk the halls again or be in that favorite teacher’s class or talk with friends in the cafeteria. Thinking about all of the moments that we are missing and the events that we should be going to is heartbreaking.”
Reagan Hartman, NorthWood: “I had really high hopes for myself in my personal events, specifically the 100. I was hoping to place well in conference and get out of sectionals!! I was excited to be with my track people and build the relationships with those people the way I did with the basketball girls. My coach (Mark Mikel) gave us workouts for us to do that i have been doing to stay in shape but it just isn’t the same because I don’t have the motivation of my teammates and coach. This definitely isn’t the way I wanted to end my senior year. I hate being out of school and not seeing my friends every day.”
Valeria Jimenez, Tippecanoe Valley: “I was staying ‘sharp’ by going out to run and trying to do workouts that we would be doing if we were still on the track. I was also trying to keep a positive mindset! I think I will come out of this experience very grateful for track. Although it is heartbreaking that I didn’t get a chance to complete goals I had set, I am thankful for all of the memories I have and all of the lessons I have learned. I look forward to watching my younger teammates compete next year and to help them in any way I can.”
Rhian Galloway, Wawasee Unified Track: “Since I couldn’t work out with my team, I tried to work out on my own almost every day. I usually just go on runs and then a short workout after. I’m super disappointed in the outcome of this season, especially with this being my senior year, but I’m thankful that I was able to participate the past two years. I made some great friends and the experience of doing unified sports will have a lasting impact on me.”