By GREG MENGELT
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
There was a point in Jeffersonville girls’ track history that the past few years’ lack of postseason success would have been inconceivable.
The Red Devils girls’ track program, which owns the second-most sectional titles and third-most regional crowns in the state, has gone without a championship the past two years and have won just two sectionals in the past six years.
Last year, Jeff was upset by Madison. The year before it was Southwestern that stunned the Devils. After finishing second at last Tuesday’s Hoosier Hills Conference meet, 2014 appears to be the year that the drought will come to an end.
“This is the year,” third-year Jeff coach Ericka Herd said. “On meet day you have certain expectations, and you never know what’s going to happen, but I’m predicting a big night [Tuesday].”
Of course, that’s what Herd thought a year ago when the Cubs beat the Devils by 10 1/2 points and the year before when the Rebels edged them by a half-point.
“As a coach, last year — even the year before — we had a good team and had predictions that we should have won. You just never know what’s going to happen on meet days.”
What happened last meet day helped Herd’s confidence. Jeff finished a surprised second at the HHC while rival Madison was sixth, 31 points behind the Red Devils.
“To see where they were at conference, that made me feel more comfortable,” Herd said.
Of course, Jeff will also have to compete with Silver Creek and its strong stable of distance runners and standout thrower Emily Christman. The Dragons are coming off a second-place finish at the Mid-Southern Conference meet, led by their winning 3,200 relay team, Maggie Shields’ victory in the 800, a second and third in the 3,200 with Mackenzie Crouch and Brittany Sharp.
Henryville should compete with the Dragons in the 3,200 relay with distance stars Sadie Spears and Cia Greene. Charlestown’s Megan Brooks has had a big year in the shot put and the discus, including MSC crowns in both events, and looks to return to state in 2014.
FLOYD EYEING NO. 5
Floyd Central enters Tuesday’s Corydon Central Sectional with a chance to win its fifth consecutive sectional crown. The two-time defending HHC champion Highlanders have won 10 sectionals in the program’s history but have never won five in a row.
“It’s unbelievable,” Highlander coach Kyle Weigleb said of the accomplishment. “I tell the girls every year that there’s no reason they shouldn’t win conference and sectional every year.”
Floyd will be sectional contenders in almost every event. The Highlanders proved particularly strong in several events at the HHC last Tuesday, led by the 3,200 relay team, their 800 runners and pole vaulter Rachael Kavgazoff.
Kavgazoff — holder of school, conference and sectional records in the event — has a goal of vaulting 12 feet, which should make her state contender.
“That would put her in the top four or five in the state, I think,” Weigleb said.
The 3,200 relay team of Gabrielle Rodrigeuz, Madison Barney, Melanie Combs and Jamie Bierman has run a 9:51 this season and looks to go under 9:50 Tuesday.
“I think they have a shot at getting to state and even [winning] regional if they run that,” Weigleb said.
Bierman and Combs were 1-2 in the 800, respectively, at conference and are the likely favorites going in the sectional.
“One of those two may have a shot at making the state finals in the 800,” Weigleb said.
Floyd is a solid favorite but it should be competition from strong Providence, Corydon and New Albany teams.
“When you’re the defending sectional champion, most teams want to come after year,” Weigleb said. “They’re going to come after us. I think we’re the favorite, but it’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure.”
Providence is led by sprinting star Charmaine Solis and features a well-rounded team. New Albany was third at the HHC and has several serious contenders, including sprinter Jayla Bethel and a state-caliber 400 relay team.
Borden’s Carson Casey is likely the thrower to beat, along with defending champion Madison Kaiser of Floyd Central in the shot put. Shelby Kirchgessner of Borden is coming off a Most Outstanding Athlete honor in the Southern Conference meet and will be competitive in the pole vault and the hurdles.