By GREG MENGELT
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
A year ago, Floyd Central won its first Hoosier Hills Conference girls’ track and field championship in 21 years.
On Tuesday, the Highlanders have an opportunity to win its second in a row.
Floyd enters the meet at Blair Field in Jeffersonville as the meet favorites — but not by much. Perennial HHC powers Columbus East and Jeffersonville, and Seymour figure to push the Highlanders for the title.
“I think Columbus East, Seymour and Jeff will have strong performances on Tuesday and will push us pretty good,” Floyd coach Kyle Weigleb said.
The Highlanders figure to dominate the pole vault with favorite Rachael Kavgazoff and the 1,600 and 3,200 relays, as they have all year. Plus, state qualifier Leah Wolf is the favorite in the discus, and Jamie Bierman and University of Southern Indiana signee Alyssa Moore figure to score big in the 800. Madison Kaiser also has a shot to win the shot put.
“They’re strong in the distance [events], we’re strong in the sprints,” Jeff coach Ericka Herd evaluated. “They’ve beaten us three times this year, but all three times we’ve gotten closer. I respect their program to the fullest, but I always coach to win. I don’t care what the odds are. That’s the goal, to win.”
Freshman Hailey Lacy has a chance to win at least two events for the Red Devils. She’s the favorite in the long jump and the 400. Nycia Ford is also a double threat in the shot put and the hurdles and Chelsea Lewis is among the contenders in the sprinting events.
New Albany entered the year as serious contenders but has been set back by the loss of Phoebe Bauer. The Memphis recruit confirmed last week that she’s out for the season.
However, led by Jayla Bethel, the Bulldogs should be strong in the sprints. Bailey Knable could also contend in the distance events.
SOUTHERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Henryville has won six SAC championships in a row. Thanks for Sadie Spears, the Hornets should make it seven on Thursday.
The SAC runs its conference meet different than the others. The girls’ running events are held on Tuesday at the same time as the boys’ field events. On Thursday, they switch. So neither champion will be crowned until Thursday.
Spears should give the Hornets a huge lead. The junior is a heavy favorite in the 1,600 and the 3,200. In fact, if form holds, she may lap the entire field in the 3,200.
She could also win the 800 and her 3,200 relay team is favored.
“She’s got a tough day,” Henryville coach Josh Conrad said. “I told her to go out and see what she can do.”
Natalie Uhl will contend with Borden’s Carson Casey in the shot put and discus and Megan O’Lone could give the Hornets a win in the 400.
“Conference is something we want to go out and win,” Conrad said. “It’s a chance for us to win a championship.”
Borden and New Washington will also have several contenders.
The 3,200 relay is seeded just ahead of Henryville. Leslie Beatty is the favorite in the 400 and the 800 and Shelby Kirchgessner is a contender in the 300 hurdles and the pole vault. Casey is the top seed in both throwing events despite having knee surgery following basketball season.
Alicia Harrod, Kriston Sarver and Brooke Abbott give New Wash several potential champions and frontrunners. Harrod is the heavy favorite in the 100 and 200. Sarver’s the favorite in the high jump and will push Harrod in the sprints. Abbott is the second seed in the 100 hurdles. Harrod, Sarver and Abbott team up to make the Mustangs the favorite in the 400 relay.
Although no area MSC team figures to compete with defending champion Brownstown Central, North Harrison and Salem, all three have athletes who should contend for individual titles at Eastern on Tuesday.
Silver Creek’s Emily Chrisman is the top seed in the discus and is second in the shot put, while Charlestown’s Megan Brooks goes in No. 1 in the shot and No. 2 in the discus. Maggie Shields is the top seed in the 800 and should finish high in the 1,600 for the Dragons. Brittany Sharp is the second seed in the 3,200 behind North Harrison star Ashton Bosler. The Dragons’ 3,200 relay ranks only behind Salem.
Also for Silver Creek, Emory Lewis (long jump) and Elizabeth Mann (100 hurdles) should have high finishes.
Charlestown’s Alysha Flaget is seeded behind only Morgan McNeely of Scottsburg in the 400 and Lauren Crowe should pick up points in the 300 hurdles and the high jump.
Eastern’s Katie Ernstberger should qualify for the championship heat in the 100. Ernstberger’s 400 and 1,600 relay teams are both seeded fourth.
SAC BOYS’ FIELD EVENTS
Heavy-favorite Borden could pick up some key points on Tuesday. Brett Williams and Henryville’s Alex White figure to push each other in the shot put. Williams is the second seed to South Central’s Logan Carter in the discus. Michael Lynch should win the pole vault with little trouble.
New Wash’s Ian Hughes has a legitimate shot to win the high jump. He is the co-top seed with three others.