SHELBYVILLE — This time of the year, the goal is clear: survive and advance.
With defending girls track and field state champion Warren Central in the field at the Shelbyville Sectional on Tuesday, the New Palestine Dragons and Greenfield-Central Cougars did just that.
The Dragons, which captured the Hancock County and Hoosier Heritage Conference team title this year, placed fourth overall with 77 points.
Warren Central won the meet with 183 points and Franklin Central was second at 136. Roncalli was third with 79 points, while Greenfield-Central took fifth with 63 points.
New Palestine pushed three individual athletes onto next week’s Franklin Community Regional and two relay teams. Greenfield-Central had three individuals automatically qualify for regional with the top three finishers in each event advancing.
Cougars’ senior Jennifer Flora and sophomore Hannah Burkhart placed second and third in the discus, while Emily Jones was runner-up at pole vault. Flora was third in the shot put.
“I know we’re not going to be competitive overall with Warren Central, but to have them come down and place as high as they both did in the discus, that’s how it’s been all year,” Greenfield-Central head coach Reuben McCracken said. “Our throwers have been two of the five in most of our meets.”
Flora recorded a toss of 119 feet in discus to take runner-up honors, meeting her seeding distance. Burkhart’s best throw measured 114-09.
Jones, a senior, cleared 10-04 for second in pole vault behind Shelbyville’s Erin Diemer at 11-08.
Jones qualified for the state meet as a junior and turned in an 10-06 to win county and was third at the HHC meet with a 10-06. She’s aiming for 11-feet as the postseason continues to magnify.
“Erin is a great competitor for her, and she’s been a target for her to chase, but Emily is competitive on her own. If she’s the only one out here, she’d still be going 100 percent,” McCracken said.
Freshman Crystal Peterson narrowly missed the cut in the 300-meter hurdles at 46.87 seconds, but her time could net a regional berth as times are compiled from the state’s other sectional sites.
“I’m thinking the times based on the heat sheets from the other sectionals, she should get a call back,” McCracken said. “That’s a pretty fast time and a PR for her in the 300 hurdles. I’m confident on that one.”
The Dragons’ were consistent throughout as freshmen Kaylin Casner and Jordan Reid both combined to lock up six top-three finishes.
Casner was third in the 800 with personal best time of 2:23.84. She was runner-up in the 1,600 at 5:22.09.
The lead leg on the 4×800 relay team, Casner teamed with Victoria Crowder, Natalie Shanahan and Grace Voelz were third at 10:13.57.
Casner was also part of the 4×400 relay, which moved up two spots on the final front stretch of the race to take second in 4:07.61, with Crowder, Sarah Greene and Edin Hurst.
Reid advanced in two events and set a school record with her 12.35-second runner-up dash in the 100.
“I knew Warren was super good, so I just wanted to get my PR and the school record,” Reid said. “I wanted to be relaxed when I ran because other times I’ve been tense. I was relaxed coming into this. I didn’t have the highest expectations.
“As a freshman, I nothing to lose at this point, so I just wanted to have fun.”
Her approach netted a third-place run in the 200 with a time of 25.73. She was coming off a 25.60 at the HHC meet, which set a new conference record.
“Warren Central is good. Franklin Central is good. That’s my next goal to push myself to keep up with them,” Reid said. “I know that they’re going to keep going faster, so I need to keep up. It’s fun having that sort of competition.”
Lillie Cain, a senior, finished runner-up in the shot put at 38-5.5 to advance for the Dragons. Cain placed 17th at state last year with a throw of 37-11.5.
Flora would like to follow Cain’s path in her final year with regional ahead.
“It’s senior year, so you want to get there (state),” Flora said. “It’s a lot tougher, but I hope to do better than I did last year at regional. I got ninth in discus. I’d like to place and maybe make it to state.”