All three Gibson County high schools will be represented in the June 3rd girls state track meet at Indiana University in Bloomington. For each of the three girls who made that happen, it is a double treat.
Gibson Southern senior Sammi Bittner became the Evansville Regional’s only double winner Tuesday night by capturing both the 100 and 300-meter hurdles. Wood Memorial senior Chloe Bartley, guard and floor leader on the Lady Trojan’s class A state basketball championship team, became a state finalist in two sports by placing 3rd in the 800-meter as she retook the school record she set earlier this season. Princeton Community sophomore Avery Jones-Taylor, who reached state by placing second in last years regional 400, returned to state after Tuesday’s third place finish.
Bittner’s two wins produced 20 of the 24 points that placed Gibson Southern ninth in the team standings, led by Evansville North with 62, follow by Floyd Central’s 61, Evansville Memorial’s 51, and Castle’s 44. Gibson Southern sophomore Maria Hillyard placed fifth in the discus, missing the third and final birth to state by a little over four feet.
Bittner’s first regional win, achieved by winning the 100 hurdles in 15.63 seconds, came as a surprise since she placed in the May 16th Princeton Sectional and second in Tuesday’s preliminary heat. Her 300 hurdles win, achieved in 46.71 seconds validated her number one seeding in the event.
“I felt I had to run the 100 hurdles better than I did in the sectional,” said the 18 year old Bittner, who plans to major in accounting at the University of Southern Indiana and is “thinking about” running track there.
“I switched from three steps to four in the 100 hurdles partly because I felt a little tired, and also because I have shorter legs than the other girls,” said Bittner who stands five-foot-four. “Being first seeded in the 300, I felt I had a good chance to win there.”
“A lot of it was mental preparation. I was visualizing how I would go over each hurdle.”
Gibson Southern coach Jeremy Aydt credited Bittner with “a really good start in the 100 hurdles. When Sammi was a freshman, I knew that she would make things happen. She has worked hard for four years and tonight everything came together.”
Bartley’s trip to state will cap her first season as an 800 runner. She ran the 400-meter dash the past three years.
“I started this season in the 400 but hurt my left leg quad muscle in the first or second meet. So I was willing to change to the 800 because there is less sprinting involved,” said the 18 year old Bartley, who plans to major in nursing and forego sports at Indiana University, but said she is receiving interest from college class coaches.
“Tonight I felt I had to stay with the Evansville Memorial runner (sophomore Claire Sievrn who won in 2:16.92), and I stayed with her for part of the race then she got away from me, so I knew I had to go hard to finish third.”
“Although we won state in basketball, I definitely was not satisfied to get to state in one sport. I decided I had to go there again, and doing it in two sports means a lot. Especially as hard as I have worked these past four years.”
Wood Memorial track coach Kevin Menke, in his second season in that role, and help persuaded Chloe to switch from the 400 to the 800. “As well as she ran in her first 800 race, I felt like that could be her best event,” Menke said. “I could not be prouder of her.”
Dad and basketball coach Johnnie Bartley also played a role in nudging his daughter into the 800. “It took coach Menke and I a year and a half to get her to run the 800,” her dad said.
“I was really excited tonight about how she would perform when she was really challenged. This was the first time she was challenged this hard.”
Floyd Central junior Faith Barba ran second in 2:20.11 Chloe Bartley finished one and one third second ahead of Floyd Central’s fourth place Lillian Pearce.
Jones-Taylor’s third place finish in the 400 came in 1:00.95. Castle senior Sunada Prasade won in 0:59.17 followed by Evansville Central junior Emma Brown in 1:00.12
“After the first part of the event I felt I was also too far behind, so getting back to state means a lot,” the 16 year old Jones-Taylor said.
“After maybe 50 meter from the finish, I knew I had to go really hard to catch the girl who was running third, and I caught her with about 25 meters left. Early on, I think my nerves were getting the better of me, so I had to calm myself and still have a good kick.”
Anticipating her second state track meet, Jones-Taylor said “I feel like I am in a good position this year. Having been to state last year, I know what I am getting myself into.”
By their third place finishes, Bartley and Jones-Taylor each gave their team six points, good for a 29th place tie among the 33 teams who scored.
Washington senior Kaitlyn Davis won the long jump and Southridge junior Tori Tretter won the discus with a 115 throw four inches beyond Evansville Central senior Zion Sanders. Castle junior Maddie Wilson won the pole vault by learning 10’6”, and senior classmate Mikayla Chinn won the shot put at 36’3”.
Bosse sophomore Tionne Brigham won the 100 in 12.65 seconds. North Knox sophomore Makinzi Meurer the 200 in 26.01, Evansville Memorial junior Preslyn Larren 1600 in 5:03.27, Christan Academy sophomore McKenna Cavanaugh the 3200, in 10:55.66. Evansville Memorial won the 3200 relay in 9:39.36, Princeton 11th in 10:35.25. and Gibson Southern 15th in 11:15.99. Memorial also won the 1600 relay in 4:04.83, Gibson Southern 11th in 4:1809. Bosse won the 400 relay in :50.08.