By Mike Deak
WARSAW – It wasn’t a matter of if, but by whom for the Warsaw girls track squad Tuesday evening. Megan Davis and her Lady Tiger coaching staff mixed up its lineup, and it still didn’t slow down the hosts in a pair of lopsided wins against NorthWood and Wawasee.
Warsaw’s 111-22 win over NorthWood and 111-20 win over Wawasee weren’t in question at all in the meet. Neither was NorthWood’s 85-44 third wheel win over Wawasee. In the end, it was more about the experience for the three programs.
“We’ve seen a lot of our depth rise up and keep pace with what you’d consider the frontrunners, and it’s been a nice thing to see,” Davis said. “To see them have that confidence to rise up and get there. At the same time, our top tier is still improving so really it’s a whole team improving and elevating as a unit, which is very nice to see.”
Warsaw wasn’t without dominant performances from its stars. Marin Hart was again on point in the 100 hurdles, winning at 16.42, and also soaring to a 5-3 best in high jump. In the high jump, Hart outdueled Wawasee’s ace, Dylan Konieczny, by three full inches. Abby Sanner also doubled up, taking both throws, 38-3.5 in the shot and 114-5 in disc.
Davis did admit to mixing up some of her flagship events, where all three of her ‘A’ relays had names shuffled in and out, but none were grossly challenged with a 10:31.09 in the 4×800, 4:14.33 in the 4×400 and a 51.92 in the 4×100, NorthWood, however, only a second back in the speed event at 52.92.
The distance groups were all victorious for Warsaw, Whitney Shepherd taking the two-mile at 12:49.89, Elizabeth Vander Bie holding off Wawasee’s McKenzie Long in the mile at 5:37.97 to Long’s 5:44.09, and Wini Barnett rising to the win in the 800 at 2:20.50.
Mikayla Minmaugh gave Hart a break in the 300 hurdles, winning at 53.37, Adree Beckham edged Wawasee’s Bailey Mayhew with a 1:02.67 win in the 400, Mayhew a few steps back at 1:04.52.
Warsaw’s Lily Boston won a busy 100 dash at 13.52, wedging out NorthWood’s Kady Hutsell at 13.64 in what culminated five heats of the race.
Hutsell would come back to win the 200 dash at 28.07, beating Warsaw’s Baylee Duncan by .11. It would serve as the only non-Warsaw win of the night, which was just fine for Panther head coach Mark Mikel.
“We just control what we can control, and nothing above that,” Mikel said. “To run within yourself. It would be nice to have those super talented girls who can win meets on their own, but that’s not where we’re at right now. We have some girls dinged up a little, not feeling well. We’ve been racing a lot the past two weeks, and tonight, some of those tired legs showed.”
Josie Niebbia cleared 9-6 in pole vault and Erika Bugg flew 16-5.5 in the long jump, almost a foot farther than Wawasee’s Alissa Gill.
“I told them do not shy away from the tough competition because that will bring the best out of you,” said Wawasee head coach Jose Lopez. “Some of these girls are getting it, some of the older girls are coming out of their shells. You look around at Warsaw, they are likely going to win events at the NLC meet. I told my kids, try to run with them. Go out with them, hang with them. They are the best in the conference, if you can hang, you are running with the best.”
Added Davis on the night, “Tonight we worked some different girls where we could improve on some areas like speed and endurance. We think we can build a solid 4×8 team for the regional, and moving around someone like Wini (Barnett) to the 800, we knew we killed the 32 with her out, but she ran a 2:20 in the 800 then to turn around a 32 with no rest wasn’t going to work. Lately, we have been playing with some of the talent and how we want to construct them for the state tournament.”