INDIANAPOLIS — Top-ranked Warren Central was as good as advertised Tuesday night.
Winning eight events, placing multiple athletes in several events and scoring 193 team points to run away with first at the Warren Central girls track and field sectional, the other participants were left to fend for their own regional lives.
The Greenfield-Central Cougars survived. As a team they placed fourth overall with 67 points behind Roncalli (69) and Franklin Central (124.5). New Palestine was fifth with 66 points and advanced a pair, including a sectional champion.
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The Cougars advanced to next week’s Warren Central Regional in seven events and rewrote the school record by finishing second in the 4×400-meter relay, but the night didn’t quite start off ideally.
The Cougars opened with a third-place finish in the 4×800-meter relay. The quartet of Sydney Cook, Savannah Girolami, Kate Helgason and MacKenzie Polster posted a time of 10:05.97 to automatically qualify for the regional — with the top-three finishers in each event moving on.
However, Greenfield-Central was initially disqualified after the race due to a runner not being in proper uniform, but Cougars head coach Jan Hacker appealed.
“Technically, we were in rule violation. We were not uniformed properly, but I always tell the girls, if I’m not around, go to a licensed official and ask before you run. And they did,” Hacker said.
According to meet directors, Girolami asked a track official prior to the race if her uniform was acceptable as she opted to wear tights while her teammates wore blue shorts. Her uniform was approved by the official. Yet, following the event, another official raised the disqualification.
Hacker defended Girolami and the board of appeals met and ruled not to disqualify the Cougars’ relay team.
“The official said, ‘you are properly uniformed,’” Hacker said. “Because we were approved by a licensed official, I decided to appeal it.”
“It was probably the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had,” Girolami added on her uniform confusion. “I’m never doing that again.”
Fear quickly turned to elation for Girolami and her teammates as the IPFW recruit tripled up by qualifying for regional in three events. Cook followed suit and Jennifer Flora doubled up in both the discus and shot put.
The Cougars 4×800 relay team’s sectional finish beat their Hancock County winning time of 10:27.60 and Hoosier Heritage Conference run of 10:07.63.
In the 400-meter dash, Girolami kept stride with Warren Central’s Tyler Tiler (59.12) and Dejah Johnson (58.50) to take third in 59.21.
Girolami was first in the 400 at county (58.96) and at HHC (59.91).
“Warren Central is the big dogs. They are what we want to be,” Girolami said. “In almost every event they were one and two, so our goal was to stay up with them the whole night.”
Cook doubled down for the Cougars and qualified for regional in her second event, shortly after Girolami. The sophomore finished second in the 800-meter at 2:19.33.
Emily Jones was second in the pole vault, clearing a height of 9 feet, 6 inches. She tied Roncalli’s Annie Richardson, but she was awarded second on the tiebreaker. Jones and Richardson both failed to clear 10 feet on three attempts.
Jones, however sailed over 8-6 on her fourth ladder while Richardson needed two attempts to surpass the bar at the same height earlier during the competition.
Flora recorded a toss of 36-4 to take third in the shot. Flora (108-9.00) was second in the discus for behind sectional champion Lillie Cain of New Palestine.
Cain’s winning throw of 115-00.00 at sectional shattered her distance at county (104-8) and conference (104-1). Cain was fourth in the shot at 35-9.
New Palestine’s Kylie Dhonau, a county runner-up, placed third at sectional in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16.99. She came in with a heat time of 17.30 and peaked at the right time. Dhonau ran a 17.76 in the county event. At HHC, she posted a 17.43.
For their final push, the Cougars ran to a school record 4:03.64 in the 4×400-meter relay. Cook led the race followed by Samara Fletcher, Amanda Flora and anchored by Girolami.
“Before the race Hacker said lets go for a 4:03, and we ran it exactly,” Girolami said. “We all hurt after it, but with so much at stake you have no other choice. We want to keep going.”
The qualifying Cougars and Dragons will compete in next week’s Warren Central Regional on Tuesday night.