There will be many stories that emerge at the IHSAA State Finals this Friday evening in Bloomington. With 16 events, there will be a lot of outstanding performances that arise.
Heading into the meet, though, there are several stories that have been writing themselves this season. Let's take a look at five big headlines.
1. Can Ramiah Elliott of North Central win four blue ribbons?
Elliott has established herself as one of the all-time great Indiana sprinters. She has a very legitimate chance at sweeping the sprints. Elliott is ranked first in the 100m, 200m, and 400m dashes. Although her seeds are not insurmountable over her competitors, she is battle tested after winning the 200m and 400m dashes last year. She also competed on the 4x100m and 4x400m teams last season for North Central as well.
Elliott will not have easy go, running five races before ending with the 4x400m relay, but she has proven over the last two years that she is a huge race day performer. She has a major shot at winning a quadruple, something never done by any Indiana athlete in the past. 6 races over a 4 hour period can be daunting but, given her track record, who would bet against her?
2. Who can break up Addy Wiley's, Huntington North, shot at sweeping the distance events?
Wiley has proven to be one of, if not THE, best Indiana track and field distance runner of all-time. Wiley currently owns the all-time best performances in Indiana in both the 800m and 1600m. She was a national champion last year in the mile. Her times of 2:04 and 4:36 in those events earned her a path to the University of Colorado to continue running competitively.
Wiley has run four events in many meets this season and has also been reported clocked under 57.12 in the 400m. She has the finishing speed, the strength, and the experience to win all three races.
However, Nicki Southerland has emerged this season as a legitimate threat in the 1600m and 3200m. Southerland just ran 2:08 and 4:43 (mile) at the Running Lane National Championships. Southerland can very much challenge Wiley. Kaylie Politza of Valpo has a tremendous 800m resume and could surely push Wiley to the line in the two-lap event. Sophia Kennedy is also emerging after a tough spring to round into shape at the state finals and should be around for much of the 3200m to help push Wiley's limits.
3. Will Hadley Lucas of Bloomington North emerge as the double winner in the throws?
Lucas comes in ranked #1 in both the shot and the discus. She has spent virtually all season in those positions. She has clearly established herself as the elite discus thrower in Indiana with her 163-08 throw over 16-feet clear of the state this season.
Hadley has also been the most consistent and furthest shot putter this season. Her 48-03 throw has her better than the next best putter by over 16-inches. However, going into the State Finals, Lucas has a .25 of an inch lead over Shelby Wingler of Center Grove as both threw almost 47-00 in the Regional.
Lucas, only a sophomore, could continue to lay a foundation as an all-time great thrower. That's a huge compliment for the budding star.
4. How many additional repeat champions will Indiana have this season?
Indiana has seven returning state champions from last season. Elliott and Wiley were double winners in the 200/400m and 800m/3200m events, respectively. Since we have looked at their chances above, let's look at the other returning champions.
Rachel Mehringer from Forest Park took the 100m Hurdles title in 2021. She has the fastest time turned in this season at 14.06. However, she is currently coming in seeded 12th on the performance list with a 14.90. The weather was tough at some of the Regional sites so it is hard to read into that number much. She did hit the standard in the Regional, showing her fitness is strong. Mehringer is in a strong position to repeat as the state champion in her signature event.
Reese Sanders, Cathedral, has had an excellent track season. Sanders has experimented with the multi-event competitions over the indoor season and excelled in the hurdles and the even the 400m. Her 43.53 time in the 300m hurdles is almost a one-second lead on the field. Her speed mixed with endurance over 400m and multiple events seemingly gives her a huge edge in repeating as the 300m hurdles state champion.
Zionsville's Michelle Nazarov is looking to defend her long jump title. She is coming into the state finals with the best mark from the Regionals with a 18-09.25. That mark is only a quarter of an inch in the lead though. Nazarov is a great competitor though who is also a part of Zionsville's top-ranked 4x100m relay team. With her experience and current performances, Nazarov is in prime position to win a second title.
5. Who will win the team title?
- North Central has big points coming at least three individual events with potential for a few points coming from a couple of event areas. They also have points possible in all three relays.
- Carmel has less top-end points based on the performance chart- but they have big points possible in the relays and in the 400m on up through distance events. They could easily put together enough points to be in contention.
- Hamilton Southeastern has huge numbers qualified with a mix of points across the board. This is another well coached team with relays and individuals who have upside for lots of points adding during the meet. Getting way into the mid-30's is a possibility.
- Noblesville has a huge upside at the meet with a great mix of qualifiers in the field events, hurdles, and distance. They are another team that could score in multiple relays and both have some high points and patch together some all-important smaller numbers throughout the meet. This is another team that could easily get into the mid-to-upper 30's.
- Zionsville is both field event and relay heavy. They will have to rely on a few big point numbers to help out their overall total. Their upside could include winning and placing in the Top 3 in a few events to jump up that point total toward 35-40.