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Large county contingent advances to regional

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SPRINT: Mississinewa’s Carli Fones races Elwood’s Kaylee Lane through the closing 100 meters of the 400 meter race at the Marion Sectional Tuesday at IWU. Fones edged Lane to take the title and will race in the Marion Regional in both the 200 and 400.
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HURDLES: Mississinewa's Beth Lucas (right) and Eastbrook's Audrey Altum race through the turn in the 300 meter hurdles in the Marion Sectional at IWU on Tuesday. Lucas won the race and Altum was second and both will compete in the Marion Regional on Tuesday.

BY CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

Grant County had four individual and two relay champions Tuesday evening in the girls’ sectional track and field meet at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Norwell, behind an outstanding performance from Sydney Lambert, pulled away for the team title (127 points) while Eastbrook (93.25) edged out Oak Hill (90) for second. Mississinewa (52) finished fifth and Marion 11th out of 14 teams.

Eastbrook’s Audrey Altum (100 hurdles) and Shauna Singer (100) were winners, along with Mississinewa’s Carli Fones (400) and Beth Lucas (300 hurdles). The Eagles’ 1,600 relay and the Panthers’ 400 relay also won races.

“There were a couple things we could have done better, but in general the girls were really, really good tonight,” Eastbrook coach Stu Goble said. “Even in places where we thought we might score better, the girls still cut time down. Our sprinters were just fantastic and did some really good things.”

In all, Grant County had 15 individuals and five relays earn top three finishes and move on to the regional meet Tuesday at IWU.

Lambert, a state finalist in cross country and track, captured three individual distance races including close wins over Oak Hill’s Mollie Gamble in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters.

Gamble and Lambert, the meet’s two premier distance runners, matched strides for much of the 1,600 before Lambert pulled out to a slight advantage over the final half-lap and won in 5:08.35. Gamble’s runner-up time of 5:09.48 was more than 26 seconds better than her previous best.

“I was worried about us losing an edge after the (Central Indiana) conference – we had to fight so hard to win the conference," said Oak Hill coach Paige Brunner. "We knew what Norwell had and worried that we wouldn’t have that little extra, but the girls fought and had a lot of second-place finishes and came close to winning a couple.

“I was thrilled for the 4x4,” Brunner added. “We had a freshman, Alyssa Thompson, and Ireland Dodson fight as hard as anyone. The two seniors (Adrianna Trexler) and Brittany (McCorkle) are two of the closest friends and it was nice to see them pull that out and finally get us a first place.”

The two battled again in the 3,200 and Gamble having, run two fewer races than Lambert, set the pace through seven of the eight laps. Lambert, though, caught up and passed Gamble early in the final lap and outkicked her down the stretch to win by 1½ seconds (11:05.58 to 11:06.98).

Just like in the Central Indiana Conference race the previous week, Fones and Elwood’s Kaylee Lane pulled far away from the rest of the field. And again, Fones’ closing kick allowed her to pull away with a winning time of :57.40 to Lane’s :57.94.

Lane turned the tables on Fones in the 200, however, and won the race narrowly in :26.19 while Fones was second in :26.31, a school record.

Oak Hill closed out the meet with its only victory in the 1,600 relay and the team of Trexler, Thompson, McCorkle and Dodson turned in a 4:15.59 clocking. Eastbrook finished third and also moves on to the regional Tuesday at IWU.

Eastbrook’s strength in the sprints and hurdles races gave the Panthers a narrow meet lead over Norwell after nine events. The highlights were Singer getting the lean at the finish line to win the 100 meters in 13.29 seconds and Altum pulling away for a commanding win in the 100 hurdles with a time of :15.54.

The Panthers’ 4x100 relay also ran to first in :52.06 with Singer and Altum leading the way. Mississinewa snuck in for a third place (:53.7) to qualify for the regional meet.

But Ole Miss' Lucas deprived Altum a sweep of the hurdles when she held on to win the 300 race in :46.88 while Altum was close behind in :47.18.

The meet began with Oak Hill’s 4x800 relay claiming a second-place finish more than 30 seconds behind Norwell and the two schools easily out-paced the rest of the field. Team members Selah Jackson, Grace Geller, Kate Hornocker and Kinzie Robey turned in a 10:36.55 that was nearly four seconds faster than their pre-sectional best.

Oak Hill’s Taylor King and Northfield’s Brittany Bussard topped the pole vault field at 8-6 but Bussard won based on fewer misses.

Jackson was leading early in the final lap of the 800 before falling back to a third-place finish (2:29.68) but securing a berth in the regional.

Trexler also will represent Oak Hill in regionals after a second in the long jump at 15-1¼ while Singer just missed with a fourth by less than two inches (14-9¼).

Marion advanced Leilanu Jackson, who placed third in the discus (101-5).

Eastbrook also takes to regional Jenna King in the second discus (107-3); Baylee Ditsler third in shot put (35-7); Emma Neargardner third in the 100 hurdles (:16.07), and Rachel Manning third in the high jump (4-8).