By GREG MENGELT
After snapping a 21-year Hoosier Hills Conference draught a year ago, the Floyd Central girls’ track team won its second consecutive conference title at Blair Field on Tuesday.
The Highlanders won four events and displayed superior depth as they scored 141 points, 56 ahead of runner-up New Albany.
“It means so much that the hard work has paid off,” said Highlander senior Alyssa Moore. “It shows that we’re not just good in one or two events, but we have depth in every event.”
Floyd opened the meet with an easy win in the 3,200-meter relay as Kassidy Manning, Jamie Bierman, Madison Barney and Moore finished it in a time of 11:13.9, 19 seconds ahead of a surprising New Albany team that beat its season-best time by 11 seconds.
Moore later beat Jeffersonville’s defending conference champion Taylor Hines to take the 800 in 2:29.45.
“Alyssa stepped up,” Floyd coach Kyle Weigleb said. “Her beating the defending champ, that’s big. That was the stronger last 400 I’ve ever seen her run.”
“It feels great to win. But honestly, it was more important to me to help the team win,” Moore said.
Floyd Central junior pole vaulter Rachael Kavgazoff won her third straight HHC title by clearing 10 feet.
“Rachael, there’s no doubt is one of the best pole vaulters south of Indianapolis,” Weigleb said. “If she wins it next year, not many people can say they’ve won four conference titles in the same event. She has a great opportunity this year [in the state tournament].”
After opening the night with a relay win, the Highlanders also closed the evening with a relay victory as Savannah Bostock, McKenzie Gerringer, Ally Ragan and Taylor Uhl edged Jeffersonville’s 1,600 relay team.
Bostock, Ragan and Uhl are all freshman.
“The relays looked pretty good,” Weigleb said. “We’re looking to do big things with the 4x8 and 4x4 relays at the regional this year.”
Freshman Hailey Lacy and sophomore Chelsea Lewis led a fifth-place finish for Jeffersonville. Lacy won the 400 in 1:00.97 and the long jump with a leap of 16-10. Lewis won the 100 in 12.83, nearly a half-second faster than favorite Jayla Bethel of New Albany, then won the 200 in 26.94. Both were also on the Red Devils’ runner-up 1,600 relay team.
“I’ve been practicing hard and working hard and this means everything,” Lewis said. “I’m psyched for sectional and I’m hoping to go to state.”
New Albany’s 400 relay team, led by Bethel, edged Lewis for the conference title in 50.93. It was the only first-place finish for the runner-up Bulldogs.
“We came out just wanting to get perfect handoffs and running well,” Bethel said. “Winning was just part of us doing our best.”
“It’s the second time this relay has been together with injuries and stuff, and I thought their handoffs looked good,” New Albany coach Casey Schneider said. “I think they’ll just get better every week.”
Bethel was running in her first meet in nearly a month after dealing with knee tendonitis, so she was happy with a second in the 100 and a fourth in the 200.
“I was proud of my speed and energy,” she said.
Like Floyd, New Albany earned a second-place finish with great depth. The Bulldogs also did it despite a gaggle of injuries, including a season-ending injury to distance star Phoebe Bauer.
“I’m very pleased,” Schneider said. “We’ve been through a lot of injuries, so it was a good night for us.”
As expected, Jennings sophomore Keri Ertel dominated the 100 and 300 hurdles. Columbus East’s Sarah Loesch won the shot put and beat Floyd Central’s Leah Wolf by eight feet in the discus. Zoey Johnson won the 1,600 and the 3,200 for Seymour, which finished third, one point behind New Albany.
New Albany in second and Jennings County in fifth were separated by just 14 points.