Senior Trace Stookey of Warsaw winds up to release the discus during Tuesday evening's NLC track meet.
Senior Trace Stookey of Warsaw winds up to release the discus during Tuesday evening's NLC track meet.
WARSAW – It felt like old times for the Warsaw Tigers boys’ and girls’ track and field squads at the 400-meter oval in the Tiger Athletic Complex (TAC) Tuesday night with both squads hoisting championship hardware at the 2022 Northern Lakes Conference championship meet.

The boys’ squad hadn’t enjoyed the sweet taste of an NLC championship since 2017, but the Lady Tigers continued to win the title in its recent dominant fashion, their 17th consecutive conference crown.

Warsaw’s girls, who dominated each of its NLC dual meets, led team scoring with 191 points followed by Northridge’s 118.5 points; not much change from recent seasons. NorthWood, however, finished closer than expected to the runner-up Raiders with 106 points for a third-place team showing. Wawasee finished sixth in team scoring with 60 points.

The Lady Tigers’ wins have been so dominant their dual meets showcase more competition within their squad than with the scheduled opponent.

Tuesday night was no exception.

The 800-meter run, a back-and-forth finish at the final straightaway between classmates Ava Knight and  Wini Barnett, was the most notable display proving the Tigers’ toughest opponents are, frankly, themselves.

Knight crossed the line 0.02 seconds ahead of Barnett with a 2:21.1 finish in the two-lapper. When the seniors weren’t battling each other, they were working together with Ella Laput, and Amanda Lusinde (3200-meter relay – 9:50.63), and with Rylee Burns, and Mikayla Mimnaugh (1600-meter relay – 4:03.86) for a pair of first place relay performances.

NorthWood’s strong sprint performances put a twist on the typical NLC girls’ meet finishes of years past, fueling their best team finish in several seasons. The Panthers Elayna Yoder was a triple winner among the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and on the anchor leg of the 400-meter relay.

 

The Lady Tigers captured five additional first places to accompany the 800-meter run and the aforementioned relays. Field event winners stepped up in a season where sprinters were not as dominant as in years past.

Marin Hart was a double winner in the 100-meter hurdles (16.38), and the high jump (5’4”). Hart added a third-place finish in the 300-meter hurdleS. Joey Rastrelli added a double win in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs in respective times of 5:13.3 and 11:34.32.

Abby Sanner (shot put – first place – 41’0.5”, discus – second place – 126’8.5”), and Josie Niebbia (pole vault – first place – 10’6”) rounded out Warsaw’s blue-ribbon performances.

NLC meet individual runner up and third place finishes for the Tiger girls’ squad included efforts from the 400-meter relay team (50.92 seconds) of Avery Fitzgerald, Jordan Love, Burns, and Camryn Burner.

Warsaw scored a two-three finish in the 400-meter dash with Ali Barkey in second place (1:02.65), and Mimnaugh (1:03.25) in third place. Erika Bugg was a runner-up in the long jump with a distance of 15’11”, Anna Buzzoni pole-vaulted 9’0” for another Tiger second place ribbon.

The Tiger boys’ NLC team title performance was not as dominant as the girls’ win, but it was convincing, nonetheless. Warsaw’s boys also used solid field event performances and middle-finish depth to pull away from Concord 168-134.5, followed closely by Mishawaka (131 team points). Wawasee scored 14 for an eighth-place team finish.

The Tigers’ thrilling moment was on the final straightaway of the 1600-meter relay when Jeremy Johnson chased down Concord’s triple winner (100- . 200-meter dashes, anchor on 400-meter relay) Jaton Thomas, who led the four-lapper relay’s anchor leg by 10 meters. Johnson, the evening’s 400-meter dash champ (50.4 sec.), made his winning move against Thomas on the last 40-meter stretch toward the finish line.

Warsaw broke 3:30 for the first time this season, capturing the final event in 3:28.55. Johnson’s teammates, Morgan Johnson, Andrew Frush, and Colton Martin stayed tight with their conference foes to set the table for the big finish.

Morgan Johnson led a group of three other Tigers field event athletes capturing the NLC title in the pole vault (12’6”). Trace Stookey (discus – 146’10”), Noah Chew (shot put – 49’6.5”), and Ben Brander (high jump 6’1”) were the trio of Warsaw’s blue ribbon field event performers.

Tucker Curtis (pole vault – 12’0”), Morgan Johnson (20’5.5”) scored key runner-up points for the Tigers.

Concord’s Thomas, the aforementioned winner of three events, swept the 100- and 200-meter dashes along with the anchor leg in the 400-meter relay. Another double winner in the boys’ meet was Mason Floria, who capped off his impressive prep hurdling conference career in the 110-meter (15.53), and 300-meter (40.26 sec.) events.

 The Tigers’ second and third place finishes were critical to ending their team title drought Tuesday night.

Frush (110-meter hurdles – 15.74 sec.), Aiden Woods (300-meter hurdles 41.03 sec.), and Jeremy Johnson (200-meter dash – 23.19 sec.) each took home red ribbons Tuesday evening.

The Tiger 400-meter relay team of Haydin Rodriguez, Morgan Johnson, Curtis, and Ashton Wade, took third place (44.53 sec.).

The other area NLC competitor, the Wawasee Warriors, had a notable performance from Dylan Konieczny, who captured the title in the girls’ long jump (16’5.5”) and placed second in the high jump (5’1”).

The Warriors and Tiger girls’ squads will compete in the IHSAA sectionals Tuesday 6 p.m. at the TAC while Wawasee’s and Warsaw’s boys make the trip to Goshen for a 6 p.m. sectional meet start time Thursday.