For 15 years, track teams from Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South high schools came to the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference championship meet to measure themselves against the best athletes in the state.
Friday night at Ben Davis, the girls from Terre Haute North came to win.
When TaPring Goatee and Sydney Dickerson finished first and third in the Patriot girls’ signature event, the 800-meter run, their team had the lead. When Chanli Mundy had a heroic effort to finish second in the 3,200, breaking up a potential one-two finish for Carmel, the meet remained tied.
It almost stayed that way. In an unbelievable finish to the meet, Carmel’s 4x400 team nipped North’s for first place by two-thousandths of a second — .002 — and won the meet 111-109.
“I’m sick,” coach Mike Dason of the Patriots said afterward. “So close.
“We had some girls that ran awesome and I’m so proud of them. We lost some places we shouldn’t have lost, but that happens.”
No one from Vigo County could remember, as the girls meet wound down Friday, what the previous best placing a Terre Haute team — boys or girls — had achieved at the MIC.
But the Patriots had at least two school records, shattered one conference record and had four first-place finishes to add more suspense to the meet than the 15 previous ones had.
The meet record came on the first event of the night, the 4x800 relay — that’s North’s signature event this year times four — as Dickerson, Goatee, Sarah Coletti and Lindsay Welker finished about 15 seconds better than a North team had ever done and nine seconds better than any MIC champion had ever done.
“This was only the second time this group has run together,” pointed out Welker, on her way to a busy evening. “We’ve been working hard and it finally paid off.
“All of us came out and ran [personal records], and for me and Sarah it was our first MIC so we were very, very nervous — but we came out and performed.”
School records were set by Mundy in both the 1,600, an event she doesn’t run often, and possibly tied or broken in the 3,200, depending on the hundredths of a second.
“I did the Miracle Mile [earlier this spring] and I might possibly be a miler [for postseason races],” she said after the first race.
After the second, considering her performances, Dason told her to expect to be doubling the rest of the season.
“I do it for the team,” an exhausted Mundy said, “being strong. I had a nine-second [personal record].”
Goatee’s win was a crucial one in keeping North in the championship hunt, and both she and Dickerson knew the circumstances.
“We knew we had to at least [both] get in the top three,” she said. “Anywhere you go there’s going to be pressure ... handling it is something I’ve had to learn.”
Other wins for the Patriots came from Keirra Porter in the 100-meter hurdles — “I felt pretty good; there were a lot of competitive girls out there,” she said — and from Rachel Gutish in pole vault.
Gutish cleared 11 feet, 6 inches, same as the runner-up, but had fewer misses.
“I made all my heights up to 11-6 and I made that on my third attempt,” she said. “The other girl had one miss at a lower height.
“I’m happy with how it went. Most of the small meets I’ve been in this year I’ve won pretty easy, but this got nerve-racking at the end.”
News wasn’t as good for either boys team or the girls from South. South’s injury-riddled boys got one bit of good news, however, when Jackson Bertoli — who hadn’t run competitively since cross country season 150 days ago — won the 3,200 in convincing fashion, dominating the last half of the race.”
“Coming in here, I was pretty fit,” he said. “I’ve had lots of pool workouts, so my cardio was up.”
Bertoli’s performance figures to give his team a boost.
“Our team morale has been kind of down,” he agreed, “but I think we had a pretty solid MIC. It’s promising, looking to the rest of the season.”