Girls & Boys State Championship Preview (Distance Events)

The state outdoor championships are right around the corner with the girls set to compete on Friday and the boys on Saturday. In this preview we look at what some potential storylines could be in the distance events.

800m Run

Nicki Southerland is coming off a weekend where she pulled off the 800m/Mile double at the RunningLane Championships. In her first event this past Saturday, she took down the Georgia 6A state champion and Illinois 1A state champion, clocking a 2:05.14-just 0.08 seconds off her PR from last year's state championship. More on her impressive feat at RunningLane can be found here. Southerland should have the confidence and ability to easily win the state after a close runner-up finish last year. It will be interesting to see the race for second. Mallory Weller has the second-fastest time of the year (2:09.77) and also holds the #2 seed (2:11.16) heading into the meet. Ellie Barada has had noticeable improvements this year, running the two fastest 800m races of her career these past two weeks-going 2:10.58 at sectionals and 2:12.28 at regionals to win both. Finishing two seconds behind her in both races was Nola Somers Glenn, last year's state finals 3rd place finisher. Other returning podium finishers include Tori Jackson (4th), Summer Rempe (6th), Henny Schminke (7th), and Ciara Kepner (9th).

Nicki Southerland talks about races and upcoming IHSAA state championship after winning the 800m and Mile in 2:05/4:40 at the RunningLane Championships.

The boys' 800m looks to be an exciting race with four favorites and a few dark horses. Last year's 2nd to 4th place finishers-Caleb Winders, Martin Barco, and Matthew Kim are all returning, as well as freshman newcomer Mason Schmitz. Winders ran a 1:51.71 split this past indoor season at the HSR Finals, and Barco clocked a 1:51.57 at New Balance Nationals. They have met twice so far this postseason, with Barco having the upper hand in both. Further north in the state, Kim and Schmitz have also matched up twice between sectionals and regionals. Kim won by a comfortable margin at sectionals, with Schmitz coming even closer at regionals, where Kim secured victory by just 0.14 seconds (1:52.75-1:52.89). Schmitz also has a chance to set the freshman class record of 1:52.68 currently held by Caleb Winders from the state meeet almost exactly one year ago. Evan Mayo and Joey Ashman could also be in the mix, as they have been in the 1:52-1:53 range this season.

Caleb Winders and Matthew Kim finishing the 800m at the state finals last year going 1:52.68 (2nd) and 1:52.71 (4th). Martin Barco would split the difference from the first heat going 1:52.70.

1600m Run

Nicki Southerland should have no problem in the 1600m as well, with her new converted PR of 4:38.88 from the RunningLane Championships. She was able to take out top runners from Colorado and Arkansas about five hours after winning the 800m title. We should expect to see Southerland defend her title after running away with a 4:43.73 last year. Again, more on her accomplishments last week can be found here. Ava Jarrell and Mallory Weller have had the next best times this season-going 4:45 and 4:49, respectively-but appear to be focusing on other events. Josefina Rastrelli has the next best 1600m time from her Flashes Showcase performance, where she ran a 4:54.45. She was the state runner-up last year with a 4:49 and will likely need a similar time to secure a top-2 placement. Other girls who have elected to run the 1600m and have gone under 5 minutes this season include Maggie Powers (4:54.47), Jessica Hegedus (4:56.20), Julia Score (4:56.23), Savana Miller (4:57.10), and Kaitlyn Stewart (4:58.32).

Nicki Southerland leads 3 other girls under the 5 minute mark at the 2024 Flashes Showcase including 2 Indiana girls (Josefina Rastrelli & Mallory Weller).

Martin Barco and Cameron Todd finished 1-2 last year, with Barco unleashing a massive kick on the last lap, dropping a 57.28 to pull away for the win with a 4:07.45. After running a 4:02.94 (4:01.54 converted 1600m) at Trials of Miles in New York, a sub-4 minute mile is definitely on his mind as his high school career approaches its end. Given this, we should expect the pace to be honest from the gun. At the Lafayette Jeff regional, Caden Click was able to hold off Ian Baker by 0.11 seconds. Click was 4th at last year's state finals after positioning himself right behind the leader with a lap to go. Ethan Aidoo also heads into the weekend as the #2 seed at 4:14.06 after a season of significant improvement. From regionals last week, there were nine boys within the 4:16-4:18 range, making the race for the podium interesting.

Martin Barco approaching the finish line at the Trials of Miles meet in New York. He would run a 4:02.94 full mile (4:01.54 converted 1600m).

3200m Run

Several girls have opted to run the 3200m fresh this year, including Ava Jarrell, Addison Knoblauch, Libby Dowty, and Kenya Leitch. Jarrell and Dowty enter with the top times from this outdoor season, with Jarrell clocking an all-time IN #6 performance of 10:11.87 and a IN #11 all-time performance of 10:18.55 at the Carmel 3200m Showcase. Julia Score would also make the top 20 all-time from that race with her time of 10:28.59 and will be looking to podium in the 1600m and 3200m, as she did last year. Mallory Weller would as well but she looks to be doing the 4x8 and 800m double this weekend at state. Knoblauch, not to be forgotten, ran a 10:11.83 at Nike Indoor Nationals and had a consistent outdoor season with mostly local meets. She was the runner-up last year to Sophia Kennedy, who won with a 10:07.86. A couple of other girls to watch include Jessica Hegedus and Kaitlyn Stewart who have ran times of 10:40.20 and 10:41.96 this season. Returning podium finishers include Mary Eubank (5th) and Lexi Panning (6th).

Ava Jarrell takes the win in this year's Carmel 3200m Showcase with a 10:11.87 leading 4 other girls to top 25 performances in Indiana all-time.

In the boys' 3200m, Carmel runners Tony Provenzano and Kyle Grove have been out front early in the past two weeks at sectionals and regionals, pushing the pace with 64-65 second splits for the first lap before working together to finish right around the nine-minute range both weeks. Most of last year's podium returns, including Ryan Rheam (3rd), Will Conway (4th), Cameron Todd (5th), and Shane Conroy (7th). Conway and Todd would run the #1 and #3 times in Indiana boys history for the 3200m at Arcadia earlier this year going 8:41.18 and 8:46.55. Pairing this duo with the Carmel runners' fast start tactics, we could see a group of runners separate early to chase times in the 8:40-8:50 range. Other runners who have been under the 9:10 mark this year and are likely to be in the mix include Westview's Noah Bontrager and Danville's Jack Hearld. With a total of 30 boys going under 9:20 in the 3200m this season, there should be a fierce battle once again to claim those top nine podium positions.

Will Conway taking to the track at Arcadia before running to a Indiana all-time high school record in the 3200m with a time of 8:41.18. He would place 12th in the invitational field with Cameron Todd taking 19th with a 8:46.55. 37 boys would end up breaking the 9 minute barrier.