Jack of all trades? Utility performer? Supporting cast?
None of these descriptons do justice in describing Northrop's Makelle Skelton. So how's this: News-Sentinel PrepSports Girl's Track and Field Athlete of the Year?
After winning 14 all-state medals (top 9 in an event at the state finals) and helping the Lady Bruins to a share of the 2011 state title and the outright 2013 title, why not?
“We wouldn't have won the state title without Makelle,” said Northrop sprint coach Terry Milton. “It's that simple. Her versatility, her willingness to do four events at the state meet, was the difference.”
No, Skelton didn't win an individual event at this year's IHSAA State Finals. But she did place third in the 300 hurdles, fifth in the long jump and helped Northrop to second in the 400 relay and first in the 1,600 relay. Most importantly, Skelton helped the Lady Bruins win their state-leading 10th team title.
“It was a perfect ending,” Skelton said of Northrop's team title. “It's the best year ever when you can win the state championship. It was an awesome way to end my career.”
Skelton's career - and her senior season - was defined not by individual titles but by team titles. Sure, she won 14 all-state medals, but what matters most in Lady Bruins' lore is one thing: a team state championship. And Milton makes it clear: “Makelle is one of the top 3 all-time at Northrop that I've (coached). Her versatility and willingness to put team first ranks her right up there with Zakiya Robinson and Lakeisha Burnett.”
Milton claims Skelton could have won individual titles in a number of events had she not worked on her versatility.
“Makelle has high jumped 5-foot-3 just messing around in practice,” Milton said. “And she's run 2:22 (in the 800) in practice. She could've done so many things, so it was hard to limit her to just four events.”
Skelton would have to agree.
“I've done everything but the discus and shot put,” Skelton said in reviewing her career. “I've run the 400, the 100 and 200, the 100 hurdles. After my sophomore year we decided to focus on the (300 hurdles), the long jump and then the two relays.”
But did that versatility get in the way of individual glory? No, says Skelton.
“I believe it's the best of both worlds,” Skelton said. “If you can do so many different events, why not use it to the team's advantage?”
Skelton reached this epiphany with an adventuress attitude.
“I like trying different events,” Skelton said. “I wanted to try each event and see what I could do.”
That is why Milton calls Skelton his most coachable athlete ever.
“The first thing that comes to mind,” Milton said in repeating a question. “It's Makelle's dependability. It wouldn't matter what event, if it was a practice or a meet or the state meet, I knew what we were going to get. We could depend on her, no matter what.”
Skelton has selected Ball State to continue her education and track and field career.
Note: With state meet result. Placement in parenthesis.
Makelle Skelton, Northrop
(1) 1,600 relay, (3) 300 hurdles, (5) long jump, (2) 400 relay.
Brionna Thomas, Wayne
(1) 100, (1) 200.
Dejah Arnold, Northrop
(1) 400, (1) 1,600 relay, (4) 100.
Symone Black, Concordia Lutheran
(1) 300 hurdles, (3) 100 hurdles
Ari Nelson, Homestead
(1) long jump, (6) 200
Sara McKeeman, Carroll
(1) pole vault
Alexis Harvey, Bellmont
(2) 100, (2) 200, (6) 1,600 relay
Holly Hankenson, Bellmont
(2) 100 hurdles, (3) long jump, (4) 300 hurdles, (6) 1,600 relay
Olivia Hippensteel, Carroll
(2) 3,200 relay, (3) 800
Jaquell Taylor, Northrop
(1) 1,600 relay, (2) 400 relay, (7) 100 hurdles
Amber McGee, Northrop
(1) 1,600 relay, (2) 400 relay, (4) 200
Dyamond Morris, North Side
(6) 100, (8) 200