By Jason Haddix
For The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
Pendleton Heights continued to flex its track muscles as the Arabians captured their third straight girls sectional crown Tuesday by outlasting Mt. Vernon, 143-115.50.
“I am proud of the girls,” Arabians coach Melissa Hagerman said. “They have come on at the right time. I am extremely excited at how they pulled together once again. We did that at conference, we pulled together as a team.”
Junior speedster Kiawna Cottrell led the Arabians as she collected 40 of the PH total team points. She cruised to first-place finishes in each of the four events she was entered in — 100- and 200-meter dash, 400-meter run and the long jump.
“I just do what I can for my team to help get a sectional title,” Cottrell said. “We all do our best and try our hardest.”
Her time of 58.34 seconds in the 400 set a new sectional record. She needed a little extra boost to stave off Bryanna Graat from Blue River, who also cam in under the previous record with a time of 58.64.
“I was really happy with that,” Cottrell said. “With a time like that, maybe peaking a little more at regionals, I can get into state.”
She was not the lone reason for Pendleton Heights moving on. Twelve student-athletes, who will participate in 12 of the 16 events, will represent the Arabians at the regional meet.
“They have been a fun group to coach,” Hagerman said. “I am blessed, too, because I have some wonderful assistant coaches who are behind the scenes. I am just one out of many.”
Joining Cottrell with individual sectional crowns were Maddi Hinton in the 1,600, Emma Manchess in the 3,200 and the 4x800 relay team that consisted of Monica Dudley, Anna Dudley, Teresa Dudley and Micalah Booher.
Liberty Christian freshman Michaela McCurdy became the first track member in program history to advance to the regional meet. She finished in third place in both the 1,600 (5:49.51) and 3,200 (13:07.78).
“It is fun to represent my school in this way,” McCurdy said. “I am really thankful for the opportunity to get to run like this.”
She is the lone female athlete from Liberty Christian to move out of a sectional tournament. She advanced to semistate in cross country in the fall.
“This is a big day for Liberty Christian,” coach Paul Jessup said. “She brings a great pride to the school. McCurdy is a rare breed.”
Other area first-place finishers were Anderson’s Taylor Potts in the shot put with a throw of 40-feet-5 and Lapel’s Morgan Tarlton with a record-setting throw of 127-2 in the discus.
The top-four finishers in each event move on to the regional round at North Central next Tuesday at 6 p.m.
“It is going to be tough,” Hagerman said. “We are in one of the toughest regionals. We have a couple of events we are focused on and getting those kids to state.”