TERRE HAUTE —
Expect one heck of a high school dual track meet Thursday night when Wabash Valley boys visit Terre Haute North for sectional action.
Don’t expect quite that much suspense today for the girls sectional at South Putnam.
Terre Haute South and the host Patriots have swapped the boys championship back and forth for the past five seasons — South winning in 2009 and 2011, North in 2008, 2010 and last spring — and been equally close in competing with each other this year. South placed higher in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference meet, North won the Vigo County meet and the Braves nipped the Patriots for the Big Four championship.
“There are not any secrets,” North coach Craig Gillaspy said Monday in looking forward to a fourth meeting with the Braves. “It’s just who shows up.”
Twist those words a little bit and you could have the outcome of tonight’s girls meet: if the Patriots show up, they should win.
North has won 29 girls sectionals, more than any other school in Indiana. That includes 22 of the last 23 — Northview breaking up a pair of 11-sectional winning streaks with the 2001 championship — and this year’s edition of the Patriots might be the best yet. Coach Mike Dason’s team was literally less than an inch away from winning the MIC championship a few weeks ago — the meet-deciding final event coming down to a photo finish — and the Patriots won’t see that kind of opposition tonight.
“This is one step toward the state meet,” Dason said Monday. “We’re taking it one meet at a time, one race at a time.”
The ridiculously deep North team has at least a half dozen athletes among the best in the state at what they do — alphabetically that list would include Sydney Dickerson, TaPring Goatee, Rachel Gutish, Chanli Mundy, Keirra Porter and Lindsay Welker — and is actually getting stronger. Cross country standout Jessi Conley is back from an injury to make a potential state-championship 3,200-meter relay team even faster.
South’s cross country ace, Nikki Thiede, has never regained full health and has been limited throughout the season, leaving hurdler Tasia Brewer as the Braves’ top threat. The best athlete who’s not a Patriot at tonight’s meet could be Greencastle’s Colleen Weatherford, Northview’s Leeanna Knight or Riverton Parke’s Sara Dickey.
Micaela Hazlewood of Linton, who’s thrown the discus 153 feet this season, and Shakamak distance stars Aleksey Green and Savannah Turner will be competing at Bloomington, while North Vermillion sprinter Paige McConchie travels to Benton Central.
South’s boys might be a little healthier than they have been, as Indiana State-bound Tyler Seibert is a possibility in long jump and the 400-meter dash.
“He’s a game-time decision [for Thursday],” coach Kyle Walsh of the Braves said Monday of his senior star, who had a foot in a boot most of the spring.
Should Seibert be able to rejoin Jackson Bertoli, who returned to competition at the MIC meet for the first time since the cross country state finals, and the rest of the Braves, “it would be the first time we’ve been able to go full-bore,” Walsh noted.
North’s contribution to better health is an improved condition for Cole Seward, who teams with Cameron Stewart to give the Patriots a lethal one-two punch in the hurdles races.
South has Logan Hambrock and Riley Stohler to help Bertoli in the longer races, while North should have the edge in sprints with a deep group led by Jordan Moothery, Ricky Brookins and Kai Stratten. Two field events that could prove crucial are discus (North’s Lee Davis vs. South’s Nic Keller) and pole vault (North’s Zach Potter and South’s Will Howard).