Sophomore motors in main race, sparks Raider

By BRENDAN PERKINS
Herald Sports Editor

HUNTINGBURG — With all respects to the competitor that lined up to her left, Aubrey Main wasn’t about to be spooked by Heritage Hills distance star Sienna Crews.

Main

Main considers the 800-meter run her race. Her baby. So the Southridge sophomore wasn’t about to let Crews trot away with all the glory in Thursday’s Southridge Invitational.

Crews, who’s only run the 800 sporadically this season as she mends from a stress fracture in her shin, was good enough to win the two-lap race. But a motivated Main buzzed more than six seconds off her previous-best time in her signature event and nosed out Crews, a fitting ending on a night when traveling faster and higher than ever before was the thread among three local schools.

Southridge snared first place in its own invitational for the first time in five years, racking up 127 points to beat runner-up Perry Central by 17 points as Northeast Dubois (83) and Heritage Hills (79) claimed the next two places in the eight-team get-together. By the end of the night, the entire Raider squad got in on the celebrity spotlight that shone on Main after the night’s most gripping finish.

In the 800, Main grabbed the lead first. Crews got it back. Main inched back in front. Crews edged ahead. Then Main raced ahead over the final 60 meters and won in 2:21.9, as Crews finished exhausted and in tears on the ground off to the side of the track while Main accepted hugs and high-fives from every Raider supporter in her radius.

As Main heard from assistant coach Fred Giles: “That was a race, young lady. That was a race.”

“It was important to my team that I do well in that race, because it’s my good race and I just kind of let it all go at the very end,” said Main, who also secured second in the long jump and was the meet’s co-MVP along with Perry Central’s Cathryn Peter. “I couldn’t really tell you exactly what got into me. I just didn’t want her to win and I just used my anger, I guess you would say, that I kind of just took it all out.”

The Raiders’ closing speed became a trend.

Kadie Dearing burst up through the pack on the backstretch to win the 400 in a personal-record 1:01.52. And Southridge senior Grace Maxey passed five runners on the second leg of the 1,600 relay, putting the Raiders in position for a surprise first-place result in that event. Heritage Hills’ team crossed the line first, but after finishing, a runner threw the baton while still on the track, resulting in a disqualification.

A bonus for Maxey. Raider coach Elaine Main said she had a tough meet against Jasper on Monday but “made up for it completely” Thursday, also taking second in the 100 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles. In turn, Maxey said she was simply trying to make up for Taylor Neukam, the leadoff Raider runner in the 1,600 relay who was out with the flu earlier in the week but returned Thursday to run four events.

Maxey

“I knew if we wanted to do this, we wanted to win, I was going to have to track them down,” Maxey said of the runners she picked off on her relay leg.

“And we don’t have school tomorrow, so I figured I’ll rest up then,” she beamed, adding that she’d likely be treating herself to a 10 a.m. wakeup today.

Expressions of celebration came in the moment, meanwhile, for Kandace Buechler as the Heritage Hills pole vaulter pulled off a 10-foot jump to land the meet record.

Buechler doesn’t hesitate to show her colors after a satisfactory jump, hopping up and standing on the mat and raising both arms skyward. And why not, when Buechler eclipsed her prior season-best by a full foot and her personal record by 2 inches Thursday.

“I want to break our school record this year, which is 10-7. I eventually want to get 11 by the end of the year,” she said. “Hopefully I can still keep going up.”

Other records could face extinction at Northeast Dubois, the way Alicia Betz continues her incremental climb.

She skittered to victories in both hurdles races Thursday, joining Southridge’s Morgan Meyer (shot put and discus) as one of three athletes with multiple individual wins. Without a doubt, her 300 triumph was Betz’s sweetest.

The junior had never seen the underside of 50 seconds in the event. As she met a wall of happy teammates after the event, Betz smiled and summoned the little oxygen she had remaining to say one thing: “49.7.”

“I’m actually looking for beating both of the hurdle records, so I’m really pushing myself lately,” Betz said. “It felt really good. I’m kind of surprised because I have shin splints in one leg and it actually didn’t hurt today, so I was excited.”

The Jeeps’ 400 relay team (Betz, Brynn Hoffman, Ashton Knies, Kateland Bailey) also dashed to the top spot, and Jeep coach Tammy Schulthies saw personal-bests sprinkled all over the track; Bailey cleared 8-6 for second in the pole vault and 3,200 runners Latesha Merkel and Abby Merkley clocked their best times.

Betz

“We’ve had so many PRs, and we haven’t had many meets, so that’s exciting,” Schulthies said.

“We’ve got to look at some places for different relays, and that’s what we’re doing. And they’re willing to do that, that’s good.”

For Heritage Hills, Crews still left the field behind in the 1,600 (5:30.5), and Patriot coach Dawn Mix applauded Gabby Yeager for passing 15 feet — by nearly 2 inches, at that — to win the long jump. And before the disqualification in the 1,600 relay, Shelby Deller, Mary Ellen Laughlin, Kaebra LaGrange and Crews assembled a season-best time, “still something to be proud of,” Mix said.

Ditto on those good vibes for Southridge. Afterward, Elaine Main spooled through the list of girls who made the trophy happen. It started with the usual standout suspects and extended to runners like Casey Lamb and Morgan Peter who quietly helped the Raiders keep rolling up points.

“We knew we could win but we knew we would have to perform well,” Main said. “I’m really proud and happy for the girls, because they knew what was expected and came and surpassed our expectations in some cases.”

Contact Brendan Perkins at bperkins@dcherald.com.




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