Floyd Central wins to stay unbeaten
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The Floyd Central Lady Highlanders’ track and field team kept its 2021 season spotless last Tuesday night when it won the Evansville Central regional. It took some big points late in the meet for the Lady Highlanders to pull out a 105-89 win over county rival New Albany.
“It was nerve-wracking,” said Floyd Central coach Courtney Bardach. “New Albany did really well; they put up a good fight. Across the board again we had kids score. In the 13 events we were projected to score, we scored. That’s where we do so well. We have kids in every event … Some we were above and some we were below, but it all balances out. That’s why we’ve done so well this year, because we’re so deep in several events.”
In the early field events, Floyd Central struggled. In the long jump, Shelby Hardin finished well back in 14th with a distance of 14 feet, 6-1/2 inches. In the high jump, Keegan Kaiser finished in a tie for 10th with Mount Vernon’s Lera Wilson at 4-10 and teammate Jenna Nolot was 12th at 4-8. Bella Barney came up with points in the discus with a second-place finish of 111 feet.
“I felt like I needed to go out there and perform like how I’ve been doing in practice and use form just to put it out there,” Barney said. “I wasn’t really trying to muscle throw. I was trying to do all form. … My best throw came on my sixth throw. I was stressed, but I knew I could do it.”
In the initial running events, the Lady Highlanders got their first win in the 3,200-meter relay, finishing in a time of 9 minutes, 45.14 seconds. Floyd Central senior Sydney Baxter gave her team the lead at the beginning of the race, and the Lady Highlanders stayed in front the whole way. Corydon Central scored, finishing seventh in 10:47.33.
“I knew the next seed was a little far back, but you never know what people can bring to regionals, scratching out of the mile or two mile,” said Baxter. “I just wanted to make sure to start off on a good note in the 3,200 relay to make sure I ended on a good note in the 800. We didn’t run our season best, but we definitely had a good time. We’re going to state so that’s exciting.”
“I didn’t know what anybody’s first leg was going to be, so I didn’t know if anybody was going to go out with me or not, which they kind of did but then they didn’t stick with it,” she said. “That’s kind of been my strategy all year, to go out fast so I can stick with it. If I get too far back, it’s hard to make that up late in the 800 so I definitely wanted to go out fast.”
In the 100-meter dash, Corydon Central’s Madison Schilmiller finished sixth (13.29) and Floyd Central’s Shelby Hardin was eighth in 13.54. Hardin later finished eighth in the 200-meter dash as well in a time of 27.64 seconds. The Lady Highlanders scored two in the 400-meter dash with Kylee Lewellen fifth (1:00.52) and Payton Hall eighth (1:03.49).
The most dramatic race of the night came in the 1,600-meter run. Floyd Central’s Jaydon Cirincione and Natalie Clare got boxed in at the start and was pushed well back into the field. Meanwhile, Jasper’s Andi Vanmeter and Evansville Reitz Memorial’s Jacqueline Brasseale battled for position at the front.
Cirincione began to pass runners on the second lap to make up lost ground. By the third lap, the senior was up to third and gaining on the two front runners. On the last lap, Vanmeter fell back slightly and Cirincione raced up to challenge Brasseale. The two runners hit the finish line at the same time in a photo finish. It took several minutes to determine the winner, but the photo showed Cirincione got the lean in a time of 5:05.82 with Brasseale second in 5:05.84.
“It was a very close race,” Cirincione said right after the race. “I sure hope it’s me. I was trying not to go out too fast, especially because a lot of girls do. I went out a little slow and got a little boxed in, but I went around as many as I could. It was hard. I think it affected me a bit, but it also gave me a bit of a rush. I just know I put it all out there, so that’s all that matters to me.”
Cirincione found out the result just before her 3,200-meter run later in the meet.
“I went out there and ran my second best time of the season so just to be able to do that is crazy, so I was just excited about that,” said Cirincione. “I heard it on my cool down, and it was just a relief. That was the relief I needed for the two-mile. It was a pressure I didn’t realize I put on myself. It felt like a big boulder coming off of me.”
In the 800-meter run, Baxter ran as she did in the early 3,200 relay, going to the front at the beginning of the race. It appeared Baxter was going to get the win, but Providence’s Lilly Kaiser made a late charge and ran past Baxter down the stretch to win in 2:20.83. Baxter was second in 2:21.52. Floyd Central’s Savanna Liddle was third in 2:21.92, and Corydon Central’s Addison Applegate was fifth in 2:25.43.
“At the very beginning, I was getting pushed to the inside so I had to sprint out super fast,” said Baxter. “That was killer. When I came across, it was my fastest 200 time ever in the 800 and then I tried to take control on the last lap but I just didn’t have anything left on the very last 100. She definitely ran a good race. She’s very good.”
“That’s the first time I’ll go to state in an individual event so it’s exciting,” she said. “I usually choke at regionals, so it was definitely good for me.”
In the hurdles’ events, Forest Park’s Rachel Mehringer blistered the field in the 100 meters in a time of 14.71 seconds. Floyd Central failed to score in the event, while New Albany took second and third places. New Albany’s Journey Howard, who was third in the 100 hurdles behind teammate Elise Gordon, won the 300-meter hurdles event in 46.62 while Floyd Central’s Racquel Semer was eighth in 49.63.
Cirincione came back to the 3,200-meter run to battle Vanmeter again, but this time the Jasper junior got the win, finishing in a time of 11:20.73. Cirincione was second in 11:24.33, and teammate Kaitlyn Stewart was fourth in 11:50.43. Stewart will run at the state finals in the event after Cirincione scratched out of the event at state, moving Stewart up into the slot.
“Me and (Vanmeter) were talking and we wanted to break five (minutes) together in the mile, and we didn’t do that,” Cirincione said. “I know she either wanted to win or get second, so I’m happy she was able to get this for her. It’s super important for all of us because it’s what we strive for. We strive to do the best that we can so she did the best she could. We’ve both put in all of the work, and it paid off for both of us. It’s just in different events.
In the relays, New Albany scored big in the 400 meters with a regional record win of 48.70 seconds with Floyd Central fifth (51.12) and Corydon Central eighth in 52.28. New Albany also won the 1,600-meter relay in 4:07.25 with the Lady Highlanders second in 4:08.33.
In the late-finishing field events of the shot put and pole vault, the Lady Highlanders scored big to determine the final meet championship. Barney, like her result in the discus, finished second with a throw of 39 feet, 7 inches behind Heritage Hills’ Rebekah Gordon, who won at 41-4-1/2 inches. New Albany’s Amelia Tandy was third with 38-5. Corydon Central’s Emma Goss was 12th with 31-9-1/2 inches.
“It’s three inches off my PR,” said Barney. “I just wanted the 40. It was a great job for the girl that won. She threw 41 feet. I’m ecstatic, especially since we didn’t have a season last year. I’m looking to throw in college so, hopefully, I’ll make some noise up there and get some notice. (Throwing coach) Cody (Hamsley) and I worked on my strength and conditioning for about six to eight months, then I would go and throw about three days a week. I was in the weight room about six days a week. I was ready.”
The pole vault was the last event to finish and it was Floyd Central’s Annalise Zeinemann and Reece Davis who went 1-2. Both vaulters flew over the 11-foot, 6-inch bar, but Davis had more misses with Zeinemann getting the win. Corydon Central’s Emily Gunther was 13th at 8 feet.
“I was here with my coaches and my friends,” said Zeinemann. “My brother came, so it was a good night overall. The weather was good. Everything was good, and we’re going to state so it was a good meet. The last two vaults I did I changed poles and I got in my head and I just worked myself through it and I got it off the ground. That was the big thing for me. … I do a lot of running over the summer to get stronger and faster so I think that really helped.”
“My PR last week was kind of crazy, so I was just trying to come out and jump,” Davis said. “I went for my first two attempts at 11-9 and I was just bad on my pole, so it was one of those things I couldn’t get it. So, we changed my run and came back in to adjust it. My last jump was better but not good enough.”
“They both got state standards so that’s awesome,” Bardach said. “Back-to-back weeks getting state standards, that’s huge, two vaulters going to the state doing that. Annalisse is finally starting to consistently jump those heights because she’s had kind of a mental block. Again, everybody came out across the board and did what they’re supposed to do and got us points.”
Girls’ scores – Floyd Central 105, New Albany 89, Evansville Reitz Memorial 52.5, Heritage Hills 31, Jasper 27, Evansville North 27, Evansville Mater Dei 26, Evansville F.J. Reitz 25, Princeton 22, Forest Park 22, Providence 20, South Knox 20, Gibson Southern 19, Southridge 13, Evansville Bosse, 13, Evansville Central 12, Boonville 12, Barre Reeve 12, Evansville Harrison 11, Corydon Central 10, Wood Memorial 10, Borden 7, Vincennes Rivet 6, Loogootee 6, Castle 5, Mount Vernon 4, South Spencer 4, North Daviess 3.5, Shoals 3, Perry Central 3, Vincennes Lincoln 2, North Posey 2, Tell City 1.
Girls’ results (top 3 to state) – 100-Meter Dash-1. Brianna Brown (NA) 12.63, 2. Cayla Frierson (NA) 12.81, 3. Rahel Mehringer (FP) 12.82; 200-Meter Dash-1. Taylor Johnson (EvRM) 26.08, 2. Bailey Keusch (SRG) 26.55, 3. Hope McGuire (EvRM) 26.56; 400-Meter Dash-1. Alexia Smith (EvB) 56.94, 2. Taylor Johnson (EvRM) 58.99, 3. Laci Spore (Prnctn) 59.53; 800-Meter Run-1. Lilly Kaiser (Prov) 2:20.83, 2. Sydney Baxter (FC) 2:21.52, 3. Savanna Liddle (FC) 2:21.92; 1,600-Meter Run-1. Jaydon Cirincione (FC) 5:05.82, 2. Jacqueline Brasseale (EvRM) 5:05.84, 3. Andi Vanmeter (Jspr) 5:15.18; 3,200-Meter Run-1. Andi Vanmeter (Jspr) 11:20.73, 2. Jaydon Cirincione (FC) 11:24.33, 3. Katie Winkler (HH) 11:46.04; 100-Meter Hurdles-1. Rachel Mehringer (FP) 14.71, 2. Elise Gordon (NA) 15.22, 3. Journey Howard (NA) 15.92; 300 Hurdles-1. Journey Howard (NA) 46.92, 2. Claire Lange (HH) 46.91, Rachel Mehringer (FP) 48.52; 400-Meter Relay-1. New Albany 48.70*, 2. Evansville Central 49.94, 3. Heritage Hills 50.36; 1,600-Meter Relay-1. New Albany 4:07.25, 2. Floyd Central 4:08.33, 3. Evansville North 4:11.63; 3,200-Meter Relay-1. Floyd Central 9:45.14, 2. Gibson Southern 10:01.01, 3. Princeton 10:07.84; High Jump-1. Josie Page (WM) 5-4, 2. Margaret (EvMR) 5-2J, 3. Kalea Fleming (Lgt) 5-2; Pole Vault-1. Annalise Zeinemann (FC) 11-6J, 2. Reece Davis (FC) 11-6, 3. Abby Ballengee (BR); Long Jump-1. Elise Gordon (NA) 17-11, 2. Aliyah Schwenk (Jspr) 17-8-3/4, 3. Morgan Alderton (VR) 16-6-3/4; Shot Put-1. Rebekah Gordon (HH) 41-4-1/2, 2. Bella Barney (FC) 39-7, 3. Amelia Tandy (NA) 38-5; Discus-1. Mariah Dickerson (EMD) 120-3, 2. Bella Barney (FC) 111-0, 3. Ava Weisheit (GS) 110-10.