June 05, 2019Crawford County senior-to-be Haylea Crandall captured her third straight podium finish in the high jump at the Indiana track and field state finals Saturday afternoon at the Indiana University track and field complex in Bloomington. Meanwhile, the Floyd Central Lady Highlanders came oh-so-close in three events of putting numbers on the board but was left off the podium stand.
Crandall came into the event well less than 100% healthy after having a fever of 102 the night before. The Crawford County jumper appeared tired and fatigued even before she took her first warm-up jump after arriving at the complex.
"It was hard," Crandall said. "My parents, I told them this morning, they asked me how I was feeling, and I was like, 'Oh, I feel like crap, but it's state so I've got to be good."
Despite being ill, Crandall flew easily over her first jump at 5 feet and again easily handled 5 feet, 2 inches. From there, there were long gaps of waiting due to the 5-Alive format used by meet officials. Crandall missed on her first attempt at 5-4 but then had a clean number on her second attempt to move up the ladder.
Racquel Semer (right) completed a handoff to teammate Grace Suer in the 1,600 meter relay to finish 21st in a time of 4:05.14.
"It was sitting around," Crandall said. "Doing the 5-Alive, it's so time consuming. I understand why they do it but, for us girls who wait for such a long amount of time, our legs get tightened up. It doesn't matter whatever we do. I was jump roping and I still felt unprepared to jump, but it happens. You just have to go with the rules, and that's the only fair way to do it."
At 5-5, Crandall missed badly on her first two attempts. On her third try, the junior attacked the bar much more vigorously and cleared it cleanly to move up another step. At 5-6, however, Crandall's legs were all but spent. She missed on all three attempts at the height and had to settle for eighth place and a medal.
"It was disappointing because I did expect a lot out of myself," Crandall said. "I had high expectations out of myself today, but you can't do the best every meet. There's always next year. Most of these girls don't have next year like me, so you've just got to think positively like that."
Crandall hopes to be much healthier her senior year to finish out her high school career with a bang.
"I'm on the podium, and not a lot of girls do that," said the former Junior Olympics high jump champion. "I've just got the think like that. I'm really happy with it. I'm just shocked and disappointed because I expected a lot more out of myself. I've been on bedrest the last three days hoping I'd get better, and I'm still full of stuff. It's just something I've got to deal with."
In the pole vault, Floyd Central freshmen Reece Davis and Annalise Zeinemann first had to shake off some nerves, coming into the biggest venue they had ever competed at the Indiana University complex. The bar started at 9 feet, 6 inches, and Davis missed badly on her first attempt. After shaking off what nerves she might have had, the Floyd Central freshman easily handled the height on her next attempt.
"My hand kind of slid down the pole, so I didn't do so well," Davis said. "Then I just said, 'I'll get it next time.' "
Zeinemann, who passed at 9-6, and Davis both cleared 10 feet cleanly. Zeinemann missed on her first attempt at 10 feet, 6 inches, while Davis missed twice. Both then made the adjustments needed to fly over the bar to advance on to the next round at 11 feet.
Floyd Central's Sydney Liddle (right) paced with Brebeuf Jesuit's Madeline Keller in the middle of the 3,200 meter run. Liddle finished 11th in 11:03.40.
The next height proved to be too much for Davis, who missed on all three tries. Zeinemann, meanwhile, flew over the bar on her first try then later cleared 11-3 to match her personal best. At 11-6, however, Zeinemann struggled. The Floyd Central freshman missed on all three attempts, leaving her two spots short of the podium in 11th place.
"I'm really excited because I got a new PR," Davis said. "That was my goal for the day. To be honest, I wasn't very scared. It was like, 'It's another track meet; just go out and do you your best and get a new PR."
Zeinemann, who was pacing back and forth before the competition, admitted to a few nerves going into the event.
"Just a little," she said. "It's so big. There's so many more people, and it's kind of intimidating."
"If I would have made 11-6, that would have been a PR," Zeinemann said. "It was 11-3, so I tied it. I was a little nervous. I was a little shaky, but I kind of just told myself it was just another meet. If I did bad, I did bad. It's just an experience for now."
In the first running event, the 3,200-meter relay, the difference of being on the podium or not came down to mere seconds. Chloe Loftus got the Lady Highlanders off to a good start to set up her teammates for a good run. Loftus ran a 1:07.016 on her first lap then was six seconds slower on her second. Jaydon Cirincione took the hand off from Loftus and had a slightly faster first lap of 1:07.007 and a second lap of 1:15.300.
The second laps took their toll on each runner with times continuing to drop a few seconds slower. Floyd Central dropped slightly as Natalie Clare took the baton for her run; the Floyd Central sophomore ran a first lap of 1:06.439. Clare's second lap, however, was 11 seconds slower at 1:17.569. On the anchor leg, Sydney Baxter's first lap was the fastest for the team at 1:06.090. Her second lap came in at 1:14.904. The Lady Highlanders' combined time of 9:29.44 just missed the podium cut by four seconds in 10th place.
"It's kind of heartbreaking," Loftus said. "I'm not going to lie. We all left what we had out there, so I guess that's all we could ask for. It's a school record, and we're all back next year so, hopefully, we can pull something out."
"The strategy was to go out and try to get in front of the pack and not get boxed in, if I could, take my time to get in," Loftus said. "I ended up staying on the outside lane the whole time so that was hard, a little rough. My strategy was to get out fast and hold on."
The Floyd Central junior said coming so close was a blow to her team but will make them fight more next year.
"This will make us work harder," Loftus said. "It will help us work harder, and we'll remember it. We'll be back."
Floyd Central's Sydney Liddle was another one who just missed an all-state spot, this time by two places and just over seven seconds in the 3,200-meter run. Christian Academy of Indiana's McKenna Cavanaugh started the race with the front six while Liddle was a little farther back after getting jumbled around during the early laps.
At the halfway point, Cavanaugh was still with the lead group but began to struggle somewhat. Liddle kept her pace going and still remained in striking distance back to about 15th. With about two laps to go, Cavanaugh fell out of the top 10 back to 12th while Liddle held her spot. On the last lap, both runners made a final charge. Cavanaugh moved back up to grab the final all-state spot at ninth in 10:56.32 with Liddle two places back in 11th in 11:03.40.
Liddle said the pace of the early laps made it tough.
"They did go out really fast and, at first, I had a pretty good position going out," she said. "I made sure to be at the top of the pack that was starting the first block. Then, the other girls came in at the 100 mark. I was still in an OK place, and then some more girls were getting up there. I was trying to maintain my spot. My goal was to be in the fifth to 15th spot going out so I was about at that.
"I think a little before the mile the first pack started pulling away, and I was in a group of girls behind that," Liddle said. "So, I was trying to catch back up to that pack. It's OK. I did my second best time this year. It's the best time I've finished here at state, so I'm pretty pleased."
Liddle said it was good to see Cavanaugh medal in her last year.
"I'm really proud of McKenna, especially since this is her senior year," Liddle said. "I know she's really been working for that. So next year, next year."
In the final event of the 1,600-meter relay, Floyd Central's Racquel Semer, Grace Suer, Keegan Kaiser and Natalie Clare ran a 4:05.14 for five seconds faster than their regional time. Semer and Suer combined for a 2:02.737 for the first 800 meters, then Kaiser grew fire under her shoes, running the fast lap for the team with a 58.958. Clare finished with a one-lap time of 1:02.587 that put the Lady Highlanders in 21st place.
"We felt great," a smiling Suer said after the race. "We PRed by five seconds, 15 by the beginning of the season, so it's a lot."
Suer said the team, made up of freshmen and sophomores, came in with no pressure and has made the foursome even hungrier for next year.
"We just came in with no worries because we weren't seeded high and because we've got nothing to lose," the Floyd Central sophomore said. "It's just run fast. It motivates me a lot because this is my favorite meet. It was fun for us because we had nothing to lose."