ANDERSON — It’s been 19 years since the city of Anderson has seen an individual Indiana state track and field champion, but Anderson boys’ track and field coach Cary House said he thinks this year might be the year.
Friday evening, Anderson senior long jumper Jalin Beard will take to the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex in Bloomington in hopes of ending that streak.
With a jump of 22 feet, seven inches in the Ben Davis regional meet last Thursday, Beard is seeded sixth in Friday’s meet, certainly no lock for the title.
But his coach said he thinks his senior has what it takes to make his best-ever jump and put himself in the mix for Anderson’s first state title since both Brian Gehrke of Madison Heights (100 meter high hurdles) and Kyle Baker of Highland (1,600 meters) both took home state titles in 1994.
House said that Beard performs better with larger crowds. In Bloomington tonight, he’ll almost certainly be jumping in front of the largest crowd he’s ever seen.
After practice on Wednesday, Beard left the track after achieving the best jump of his career, an unofficial mark of 23 feet, seven inches, but he said he thinks he’s got an even better jump left.
“I feel like I could jump 24 (feet) and win state, and I feel like that’s what I’m going to do,” Beard said. “I wanna win state, I don’t just wanna go.”
The Pendleton girls’ track and field team hasn’t had to wait quite as long for a state title since Elli McCardwell won back-to-back state pole vault titles in 2009 and 2010, but coach Melissa Hagerman has been working since then to get the Arabians back.
This year, she boasts two runners who each won regional titles in their respective events – one of which who will be competing in two events Saturday.
Junior long jumper and 400-meter runner Kiawna Cottrell had been to regionals her freshman and sophomore years, but it took a spectacular meet at the North Central Regional May 21 to finally taste the satisfaction of securing a trip to the state meet
“I just couldn’t stop smiling,” Cottrell said. “I was just going into regionals thinking I wanted to get top three to move on or get the state standard time, and I ended up winning. It was just an overall great feeling.”
For Cottrell’s teammate, freshman 3,200-meter runner Alex Buck, the road to the state meet wasn’t quite as easy.
After what Hagerman said was a great cross country season for Buck, the freshman suffered a broken foot and had to stop training and wait for it to heal. Yet Hagerman said she knew the freshman’s determination would get her back in the mix of things quickly.
“She’s confident, and it’s neat to see her so excited,” Hagerman said. “She can hardly wait till Saturday.”
Joining Cottrell and Buck from Pendleton Heights is senior long jumper Sean Brady, senior Skyler Prol in the shot put and the girls’ 4 x 800 meter team that includes two seniors, Emma Manchess and Anna Dudley.
With so many Arabians competing this weekend, Buck said she thinks their teammates will be able to help boost each other to their best performances of the season.
“We knew Kiawna Cottrell had a really good chance of making it to state, but we wanted to go with her,” Buck said. “We rose together as a family, so we wanted to go to state as a family. I think that motivated us and pushed us more to get more girls to go.”