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Moving indoors

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Franklin County's Ashlan Hill lands her long jump at the 2019 Hoosier State Relays at Anderson University on Saturday. Hill wound up with a distance of 16 feet, 4 inches. The FC junior wound up second at the meet.
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Connersville's Trevor Hux receives the baton from teammate Jacob Sanders during a relay at the Hoosier State Relay, inside the Kardatzke Wellness Center on the campus of Anderson University on Saturday. A total of 20 teams attended the indoor meet.
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Connersvillejunior Ally Bell goes into her wind-up in the shot put competition at the 2019 Hoosier State Relay track and field meet, Saturday at Anderson University. Bell finished with a throw of 27 feet, 7 1/2 inches.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

ANDERSON — The rain was falling on Saturday, and the temperature wasn’t cooperating for track and field athletes, either.

Fortunately, for Connersville, Franklin County, and 18 other schools, none of that mattered.

That’s because all 20 of those teams were enjoying the indoor comforts of the Kardatzke Wellness Center, on the campus of Anderson University, taking part in the Patriot Invitational track and field meet.

The event was part of a Hoosier State Relay series, several meets being run throughout the state in recent weeks, leading up to the state finals, which will be held on March 23.

To qualify for the state championships, an athlete or relay team would need to finish in the top 24 among all of those qualifier meets held throughout Indiana.

The Spartans competed in two of the qualifiers, also participating at East Central on Saturday, March 2.

While none of Connersville’s competitors earned a state finals berth, participation in the two meets were a rousing success, according to the coaching staff.

“This is a great way for the kids to get used to this kind of atmosphere, and that’s really how we use these meets,” coach Jeff Cooley said afterward. “It’s a learning meet that shows them, among other things, when they need to warm up so that they can be ready to go.”

Seeing what’s out there can be an eye-opening experience, and that’s a plus as well, coach Kelli House added.

“Coming to Anderson and competing in this meet gives the kids an opportunity to see some of the bigger competition that is out there,” she said. “For instance, the kids got to see North Central at this meet, and that’s the No. 1 ranked team in the state.”

Both coaches agreed that the experience is particularly valuable for the freshmen on the team. 

Ninth-graders competing at the two qualifier meets for CHS were Hailey Aviles, Rudy Branstetter, Braylind Colassaco, Molly Crank, Garrett Davidson, Cameron Dobbins-Parks, Brayden Jones, Austin Lancaster, Logan Lynch, Dustin McCarrell, Keaton Oakley, Treyton Pollitt, Brooke Sudhoff, Erika Smith, Breanna Thurston, Hayden Turney and Austin Wenta.

By the numbers, Connersville wound up with a couple of outstanding performances at the two qualifiers.

Colassaco finished 51st among all the qualifying meets in the high jump with a leap of 5-foot-8, and Jessica Beckman was also 51st-best in the shot put event, finishing with a throw of 34-feet-2 1/4.

“For Jessica, that throw was a personal best, indoors or outdoors,” Cooley pointed out. “Braylind was impressive for a second straight week. He jumped 5-4 last week at East Central, so his 5-8 jump at Anderson was really good.”

But beyond the numbers that Hoosier State uses to determine its state finalists, both Cooley and House noted there were several performances that caught their eye.

“Adam Arndt ran a personal best (10:40.15) in the two-mile, which is a credit to how smartly he ran that race,” House said. “The runners just really took off in that race, but Adam held back and ran very conservative. It was great to see how much maturity he had during that run.

“I also thought that Dylan Cox had a great split in the 4x200 relay. He is the leader of this team, and his example contributes a lot to our team.”

Speedster Gabby Gonzalez caught some notice as well.

“Gabby finished with a personal best (8.66) in the 60,” Cooley said. “It was good to see her running that fast this early.”

In addition to the stellar performances, there were some miscues on the day, as there were a couple falls in the hurdle events, and a dropped baton during one of the relays.

 

But even those errors, or more to the point how they were dealt with, gave the CHS coaches cause for optimism.

“How they dealt with those mistakes was really exciting,” House said. “They just got up and fought to finish strong. I loved watching how they responded to those moments, as it showed what these kids are made of. It’s definitely what we want on this team.”

Franklin County also fielded a team at HSR qualifiers (including the meet at Anderson on Saturday), and the Wildcats qualified two for the state finals.

Senior Anna Schatzle will head to the finals in the pole vault, following an effort of 10-foot-6 at Anderson.

Joining her will be junior Ashlan Hill, who leapt a distance of 16-10 3/4 in the long jump at the Lawrence Central qualifier on March 1.

Franklin County also had a pair of near-misses.

Lauren Kelley finished 28th in the two-mile run with a time of 11:54.03, and the 4x400 relay team wound up 29th with a time of 4:22.29.