By MATT KOESTERS
Few girls' track programs in Indiana can boast the kind of success Jeffersonville has had.
Only Terre Haute North has won more sectional championships than the Red Devils' 25.
However, Jeff won 24 of those titles from 1975 to 2008. It has won just one in the past five years.
Second-year coach Ericka Herd is in the process of moving the Red Devils back to the top of the Jeff Sectional standings.
"I am definitely looking to win," Herd said. "We've got the talent here to do it."
A year ago, Southwestern's Savannah Hubbard put the Rebels at the top of the standings by winning the 300-meter hurdles. Then Hubbard helped Southwestern's 1,600 relay team finish second, one spot ahead of Jeff.
Hubbard's efforts gave the Rebels a half-point win over runner-up Jeffersonville for Southwestern's first sectional title in school history.
It's a half-point the Devils won't forget.
"We took it pretty hard," said senior Taylor Hines, who was a member of the 1,600 relay team that came up .53 seconds short of delivering the title. "Any event, we could have gotten one more point there, one more place, we would have won. So it really hurt."
"We came up one point short," Herd recalled. "I think that will serve as motivation for everyone. Everyone is working hard to move up one or two positions so it doesn't happen again."
Hines, who finished second in the 800 in last year's sectional, said the loss has helped the Red Devils rally early in the 2013 season.
"Everybody, if they see someone in front of them, they're just going to go for it," Hines said.
Jeff is young but talented. Sophomore Chelsea Lewis, who had a pair of fifth-place finishes in last year's sectional, and freshman Hailey Lacy appear to be the next in line in Jeff's deep sprinting history.
"We have a lot of young freshmen coming in that are going to help us out in a couple of events," Hines said. "We have some good sprinters, so hopefully this year we'll regain that spot and win the sectional again."
With so many talented freshmen, Herd is trying to get a lineup that will optimize points when they arrive at the sectional on May 14.
"We're still trying to figure out who fits where," Herd said. "It's like a puzzle."
The Devils finished third at Saturday's Jeffersonville Inferno. It's a nice start to recapturing the glory days, Hines said.
"If think we're making a lot of progress," she said. "I think [the third-place finish is] a good sign. From here, we're just going to try to get better."
GIRLS' TRACK & FIELD ATHLETE OF THE WEEK (April 2-8)
Alyssa Moore, Floyd Central
Moore won four times at Saturday's Jeff Inferno, leading the Highlanders to the team title. Moore won the 800 by more than eight seconds and anchored Floyd's winning 1,600, 3,200 and distance medley relay teams.
LAST WEEK'S STARS (April 2-8)
• Sadie Spears, Henryville: Spears won the 3,200 at the Inferno, out-racing Floyd Central's Lydia Kotowski to win in 12:29.
• Bailey Knable, New Albany: Knable won the 1,600 and the 3,200 in last week's dual meet against Floyd Central.
• Rachael Kavgazoff, Floyd Central: Kavgazoff earned another victory for Floyd at the Inferno, sailing over the bar at 10-feet, 6-inches in the pole vault.
• Megan Brooks, Charlestown: Brooks won the shot put and discus in a quad meet against New Washington, Rock Creek and Christian Academy last Tuesday.
• Hailey Lacy, Jeffersonville: The Devil freshman won the long jump and was the runner-up in the 400 in her first Inferno competition.
• Baylee Stewart, Henryville: Stewart won the 400 and the long jump in a dual victory over Corydon Central last Tuesday.
• Madison Barney, Floyd Central: Barney was the 1,600 Inferno champion, helping the Highlanders to the team title with a victory.