Confidence reigned supreme Tuesday night at Spuller Stadium. If you had it, you won.
Rachel Dincoff just knew she'd win at the Northrop girls track regional. So did Brionna Thomas. And the entire Northrop girls team, for that matter.
After them, there wasn't much winning left over.
No. 2 ranked Northrop ran away with the team title, winning three events and racking up points in nearly every running event to score 79 points. Carroll, which set the regional 3,200-meter relay record (9 minutes, 22 seconds), placed second with 48 points followed by Thomas' Wayne team with 47 points.
The top three finishers in each event, including relays, as well as any other competitor meeting the state-qualifying standard, advance to the June 1 IHSAA state championships at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Dincoff, a DeKalb senior, won both the discus (140-4) and shot put, the latter with a regional-record 46-feet-5-inch effort on her last attempt.
“I was hitting 44s and then with the last one, my coach (Jason Casteel) told me to give it my all and attack the front of the ring,” Dincoff said. “So I just went for it.”
Dincoff broke the 1985 record of Devonna Runkel by nearly 2 feet and won by almost 5 feet. Her consistent 44-foot marks were in line with her personal best. It gave her the added confidence to “go for it.”
“I just knew I was going to do good,” Dincoff said. “I worked hard to get here and knew I was going to great.”
Dincoff placed third at last year's state meet in the shot put but has her sights set on a state title this time.
Thomas displayed the same confidence as Dincoff while out-racing several other top sprinters to win the 100 (12.26) and 200 (24.95). Thomas came in with the state's best times in both events but knew she'd be chased by several other top-ranked sprinters.
“I knew the competition was going to be great, but I already raced against these kids,” Thomas said. “I knew I was going to do good. I knew I beat them before and, not being cocky, I knew I could beat them again.”
Thomas, like Dincoff, was a defending champion and has some unfinished business to complete at state. Last year as a freshman she finished second in the 200 and third in the 100 while pacing the Generals' relays teams to fourth (400 meters) and fifth (1,600 meters).
Northrop returns to Bloomington as the defending state co-champion and appears primed after Tuesday's victory, even if the meet didn't go exactly the way head coach Tom Knudson had hoped.
“You know, this is a smokin'-fast regional,” Knudson said of the sprints. “The kids know it and I think it adds a little pressure. They know they have to run fast, even at the trials just to get to the finals.”
The result is “a lot of tired legs” and missteps along the way. A long jumper (Makelle Skelton) failed to advance for the Bruins as well as a sprinter (Dejah Arnold, 200).
“We ran with a lot of heart,” Knudson said. “We ran hard. Dejah had just won the 400 (before finishing eighth in the 200) and Makelle came back and ran real well in the (1,600 relay). Maybe her not being in the long jump (at state) will help her run faster in the hurdles and relay.”
Northrop won the 400 relay (47.36) and the 1,600 relay (3:53) to go along with Arnold's victory in the 400 (57.08).
Other area winners were Carroll's Olivia Hippensteel in the 800 (2:14.62) and Homestead's Ariane Nelson in the long jump (18-5.75).
Also winning were Westview's Skyler Carpenter in the 100 hurdles (14.24) and 300 hurdles (42.31) and Fremont's Abby Hostetler in the 1,600 (5:01) and 3,200 (11:01). Westview's Jeslyn Zimmerly won the pole vault (12-0).