With an estimated distance of 25 meters between her and Fort Wayne Northrop Senior Whitney McDonald, Lawrence North Senior Ashley Spencer made a decision almost halfway through the final leg of the 1,600 meter relay.
"I just didn't want to see her back anymore," said Spencer with tears of joy rolling down her face.
Spencer ran the anchor leg of a lifetime, a 52.2 to pass up McDonald and clinch a share of the State championship for the Wildcats with Northrop, putting the teams in an even tie at 42-42 on the very final race of the night.
"It was just great for Ashley," said Lawrence North Head Coach Hilary Church. "I know she tripped in the 300's, and I know that she wanted to do everything that she could for her team. I felt like if it came down to the four by four, I'd feel pretty good for our team going in."
Of course though Spencer's leg was great, her teammates in Majaica Brooks, Antonio Franklin, and Chelsey Miller helped put Spencer in position to finish with a State record time of 3:47.37, capping off what was a memorable day for the Wildcats. Along with the first-place finish in the 1,600, Brooks, Spencer, Alyssa Walker, and Christa Hammond finished with a first-place in the 400 meter relay with a time of 47:02, and Spencer finished with two second-place finishes in the 100 and 300 hurdles.
To defeat Spencer in the 300 hurdles it took a State-record time of 42.03 from Westview Junior Skyler Carpenter, who finished in first of the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 14.36 as well.
"I consider the 300 to be my race," said Carpenter. "And I knew if I just stuck to my form and ran my splits that it would pull me through. But it was really freaking me out that Ashley Spencer was so close to me in the end."
Though it could be argued that Spencer enjoyed the most overall and team success of the day, it would be hard to argue that nobody left more impact on the State record books on Saturday then Culver Academies' Senior Waverly Neer. Running practically all by herself in both races, Neer smashed the State mile record held by Carmel's Katie Harrington by six seconds with a time of 4:43.46, and then came back in the 3,200 meter run to break Amy Yoder's 15 year-old record with a time of 10:20.66.
"I'm beyond cloud-nine," said Neer after her races. "I'm so excited and I just can't tell you what it finally feels like to realize these goals that I've been dreaming about since I was a little girl. To finally achieve them is amazing."
Park Tudor's Abby Farley also broke her own State record time with a 2:08.91 in the 800 meter run, while Portage's Tori Bliss threw the longest shot put in State Finals history with an attempt of 50-09.00.
The meet was primed for excitement even from the very start, as Carmel's 3,200 relay squad of Sarah Bennett, Irene Gibson, Lauren Kahre, and Alex Chitwood took the championship on the final 100-meter stretch to oust Franklin Central with a time of 9:13.01.
"I knew the Franklin Central girl was going to be fast," said Chitwood. "But I didn't expect her to take it out quite as fast, and when she passed me, I knew she went out a little hard. So I thought to myself that I could catch her, I could catch her, so I stayed right behind her. And then when it came down to the last 200, and when my legs felt like bricks in the last 100, but it's alright because I got her."
Meanwhile in the field events impressive heights and distances were being set. The Gutermuth twins of Fort Wayne Leo took first and second in the pole vault with Nina Gutermuth jumping 12-09.00, Westview's Skyler Carpenter was able to capture her third State championship of the meet with a jump of 18-03.50, Southridge's Cassie Wertman threw the discus for a length of 143-04, and Fort Wayne Snider's Shanelle DeJournett won the high jump with a height of 5-08.00.
"At 5-08.00, I wasn't really expecting to jump it," said DeJournett. "And I don't know, it just happened."
Back on the track Indian Creek's Katie Wise and Pike's Morgan Yeadon one-upped each other in one event a piece. Wise bested Morgan 11.91 to 11.99 in the 100 meter dash, while in the 200 Yeadon (24.10) defeated Fort Wayne Wayne's Brionna Thomas (24.44) and Wise (24.50) for that title.
"It was really exciting," said Wise about the 100. "I knew that I had it about half-way through. I just started to have a big smile on my face because I knew I had such a big accomplishment."
Then in the 400 meter dash it was Lawrence Central's lone State champion in Montayla Holder holding off Bishop Chatard's Maggie Bell with a time of 55.27 to take the State crown. Pretty good for a girl who only started running the event at Sectionals.
"I run the four-by-four and I had ran a split of 54," said Holder on how she got into the event. "So my coach asked me if I wanted to get fifth or fourth in the 300 hurdles or win State in the 400, so I was like let's go win state!"
But in the end the story of the day was the Wildcats and Fort Wayne Winthrop sharing the team-title.
"This one is awesome because a lot of the girls we won with two years ago are seniors now," said Church. "Ashley Spencer, Antonia Franklin, Alyssa Walker, Chelsea Miller, so a lot of seniors on this team. This one is really special though because Ashley is such an amazing athlete, and I just wanted her to go out that way."
Lawrence North shares State title with Fort Wayne Northrop
Led by Senior Ashley Spencer's two individual second-place finishes in the hurdle events and first-place finishes in the 400 and 1,600 relays, the Wildcats tied Fort Wayne Northrop 42-42 for a share of the Girls' State Track and Field championship.
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