BLOOMINGTON _ Experience proved to be everything Friday at the IHSAA Girl's State Track and Field Championships here at Indiana University. After close calls last year, Wayne sprinter Brionna Thomas, DeKalb thrower Rachel Dincoff and the Northrop 1600-meter relay team each took notes from last year, dug a little deeper and won titles.
Thomas won both the 100 and 200 meter dash after placing third and second respectively in those events last year. Thomas also ran on the Lady Generals' fourth-place 1,600-meter relay team and their ninth-place 400-meter relay team.
In both winning races, Thomas jumped to a quicker than usual start. Call it learned behavior.
“I don't really have a good start but I did today,” Thomas said. “My coaches talked to me about the track (wider lanes and turns) and about last year when I didn't run smart.”
Thomas certainly ran “smart” Friday, winning not only her two events in the finals but in the prelims as well. She said she “wasn't supposed to win” because the returning champ in the 100 (Katie Wise of Indian Creek) returned with the fastest time in the state. But Wise false-started in the prelims, opening the door for the field.
“I felt like I should have won last year,” Thomas said. “So this year, I wasn't supposed to win but I did because I learned a lot from last year.”
Thomas won the 100 in 11.91 seconds and the 200 in 24.18.
Dincoff placed third in the shot put last year and despite coming in with the second-best throw in the state this year, set her sights on a different goal: the discus.
“I knew if I was going to win, it would be in the discus,” Dincoff said after winning her second-best event. “So I practiced this week mostly on the discus.”
Dincoff followed up that championship performance with a third place in the shot put, but that was simply icing on the cake after winning the discus in dramatic fashion. The DeKalb senior was in third place going into her final throw and decided to “go for it.”
“I already had third wrapped up so I had nothing to lose,” Dincoff said. “So I just relaxed, sped it up and then let it go. I usually know right away when I throw a good one and I knew it felt great. But when they said (143-7), I started to shake. I started to cry.”
Dincoff then had to wait for two more competitors to make their final attempts.
“It took forever for them to throw but then it was over,” Dincoff said.
Like Thomas, Dincoff had no time to celebrate: she had to move on to her next event.
“It was rough,” Dincoff said of warming up for the shot put. “I tried not to think about it, but I was emotional. It was hard to settle down.”
Dincoff did settle down enough to place third: “It was a great way to finish my high school career.”
The Bruins 1,600-meter relay quartet took to the track for their signature event after a meet full of second places. In fact, the team's title hopes had dissolved and now it was just a matter of winning a singular event. Just the position that coach Tom Knudson preaches about.
“We battle all the way to the end, that's what we do,” Knudson told his team after the meet. “It's great to win something. That was huge. We didn't win all night; it was a struggle. We missed out on some points but in the end, we battled to a win.”
The relay team of Alexis Scott, Makelle Skelton, Demetra Taylor and Dejah Arnold won in 3:51.45 as Arnold held off the anchor leg for Lawrence Central by a third of a second.
Last year the same quartet finished second in the relay and vowed to come back and win it this year.
“We knew we couldn't win the meet so we had nothing to lose,” Taylor said. “All year long we wanted to win this event.”
Northrop's victory in the event, the meet's final race, secured second place for the Bruins with 49 points. Pike won the team title with 55 points.