BLOOMINGTON — When is finishing second ever acceptable? How about when you are competing against a legend?
A trio of local track athletes have this scenario to ponder after Friday’s IHSAA Girl’s Track and Field Championships held here at Indiana University.
The meet was really the coronation of Westview’s Skyler Carpenter who won three more state titles to bring her career total to seven. She won the 300 hurdles for the third time and the 100 hurdles and long jump for the second straight year.
But in all three races, an Allen County athlete was a close second: Concordia’s Symone Black (300 hurdles), Northrop’s Demetra Taylor (100 hurdles) and Homestead’s Ariane Nelson (long jump).
Taylor’s runner-up finish wasn’t the only for her Lady Bruins, who saw Emma Mirwaldt get second in the 800 meter run and their 400-meter relay team finish second.
No. 3-ranked Northrop’s bid for a state-record 10th team title fell just short as the Lady Bruins totaled 49 points, only six behind champion Pike. Until the final event (1,600 relay) it appeared that Northrop and it’s athletes were destined to finish second but the Lady Bruins pulled out a victory in the relay.
Taylor’s runner-up in the 100 hurdles came after finishing third to Carpenter last year.
“I ran great today,” Taylor said of her hurdles race. “Skyler is just a tremendous hurdler. She ran perfectly today.”
Carpenter won the race in 14.13 seconds with Taylor at 14.26.
If Carpenter was challenged in that race, it was nothing compared to Black’s run at her in the 300 hurdles. Black pulled up along side Carpenter as they neared the final hurdle. The field was two seconds behind.
“I was trying to stay in it to win it,” Black said. “I just wanted to get a great start, stay with her as long as I could and see what happened.”
What happened was Carpenter ran another flawless race and finally out-lasted the younger and thinner Black, 42.20 to 42.63.
“She’s and awesome hurdler,” Black said of Carpenter. “Racing her was incredible. I think it will make me better.”
The key word in the previous statement being “was” as Black looks forward to two more years without facing Carpenter.
“Definitely,” Black said. “Not racing her will be nice!”
Nelson also had a spectacular performance, leaping 18-feet-9 inches, only 1.5 inches behind Carpenter.
“Yes, it’s obviously frustrating,” Nelson said about finishing second to Carpenter. “But I love Skyler. She’s a great person and I love competing against her.”
But after three years Nelson looks forward to competing in the Northrop Regional and state meet next year sans Carpenter.
Mirwaldt’s red ribbon performance in the 800 was like making lemonade out of lemons. As anchor leg on Northrop’s 3,200-meter relay team, Mirwaldt was heart-broken to receive the baton well back of a ninth-place finish. Her coach, Tom Knudson, motioned her to pace her way to the finish, saving her energy for a solid run in her individual event.
“Definitely a blessing in disguise,” Mirwaldt said of the Bruins’ poor 3,200-meter relay performance. “I had a lot left for the 800 and we needed the points. I was pretty excited.”
Mirwaldt was in last place (14th) in the fast heat with 300 meters to go.
“I knew if I was going to pass anyone, I had to pass them all,” Mirwaldt said. “So (down the backstretch) I went out (to lane 3) and passed them all.”
Mirwaldt entered the final turn in second, well behind eventual winner Taylor Wiley and then held off the field down the homestretch.
“From last to second,” said Northrop coach Tom Knudson. “Emma told me she was going to run 2:13 and by God, she did it. She gave us a real boost. She put us back in the meet.”
Mirwaldt’s eight points briefly put the Lady Bruins on top, but eventual team champ went 2-4-6 in the next event (200) to wrap up the team title.
Other all-state performances
Behind Northrop’s second-place finish was Wayne in sixth place (27 points), thanks to the two titles by Brionna Thomas (100, 200) and the Lady Generals’ fourth in the 1,600 relay and ninth in the 400 relay.
DeKalb finished 10th with 17 points: Rachel Dincoff’s win in the discus and third in the shot put.
Bellmont finished 16 points: Holly Hankenson was sixth in the 300 hurdles and 100 hurdles.
Homestead finished with 14 points: led Nelson in the long jump and 200.
Concordia finished with 13 points: Black in the hurdle races.
Carroll had 7 points: led by a fourth in the 3,200 meter relay.
Garrett had 6 points: Jordyn Knott’s fourth in the high jump.
Snider had 4 points: led by Karrina Smith’s seventh in the long jump.