Area athletes capture 4 championships at Warsaw Regional
WARSAW — Leah Heckaman gave herself a bit of a scare Tuesday night.
Coming into the discus finals at the Warsaw Girls Track and Field Sectional, the Culver Girls Academy sophomore’s best throw of the night was only good enough for fourth place, one shy of state qualification.
Luckily for her, she saved her best for last.
Heckaman threw a 126'10” on her final try, breaking her own school record and topping the field by a little over a foot for the championship and a repeat trip to the state finals at Indiana University’s Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex in Bloomington next Friday, June 1.
“I was really nervous to go in and I’m in fourth place in the discus and it comes down to my last throw, and I look at my coach and I’m just like I’ve got to do it,” said Heckaman. “I go out there and I passed them all, and it was a really great adrenaline rush. I probably shouldn’t wait until the last throw next time, but it was great.”
Heckaman led a handful of area state qualifiers with a pair of championships at the Warsaw Regional, following up her discus championship with top honors in the shot put, where she outdistanced Mishawaka’s Maria Tomlinson by a foot with a 40-11.75 throw to earn her first state qualification in the event.
“Leah threw OK in the trials in the discus. In the finals she was in fourth with one throw to go, and we won on our last throw, which was very very nice to see,” said CGA head coach Michael Chastain. “It’s one of those things that all competitors kind of deal with when the pressure’s on, and she did. In the shot she was in second place going into the next to last throw and she threw her best — 40 foot 11 — so that’s a new school record as well as a personal best. The Tomlinson girl from Mishawaka threw one inch below her best on her next throw so it was some nice competition. Leah needs to understand how to do things when the pressure is on, and she’s doing well. I’m very proud of her.”
Area athletes clinched four regional championships at the Warsaw meet, as Heckaman won both throwing events, Bremen’s Jenna Pfeiffer claimed the top prize in the high jump, and Plymouth’s 3200-meter relay team of Meagan Fisher, Libbie Read, Maggie Morrow and Allie Wright won their event.
Pfeiffer tied her own school record in the high jump with a 5-foot-5 clearance, following up a sectional championship at home last week with a regional title in her senior season.
“Last year I got second in sectionals and regionals in high jump so it feels good to win them both this year,” said Pfeiffer. “I’m going in at the same height seed that I was last year, but my PR has been better this year, I’ve been more consistent at higher heights this year so I’m hoping to put it all together at state and get as high as I can.”
“She looked really smooth today, a lot of power and speed going over the bar, very collected and looked like she had a lot of confidence,” said Bremen head coach Mark Yoder. “I’m very proud of the way she jumped today.”
Pfeiffer also competed in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles Tuesday, falling short of state berths in sixth and 10th, respectively. While she may have fallen short of advancing in either hurdles race, that fact may be a bit of a blessing in disguise as it allows the Lady Lions standout to focus exclusively on her favorite event in Bloomington.
“I was trying to clear the state standard before I went and ran the hurdles. They actually had to hold up the hurdles,” she said. “I was trying for the state standard and I was freaking out, so it felt good to just clear that before I got to the hurdles. Yeah, high jump is always my favorite, it’s always what I like to do the most so it’s nice to just be able to focus on that and be able to only think about my jump instead of hurdles an everything else.”
Plymouth’s 4x800 squad was hardly tested Tuesday as Fisher, Read, Morrow and Wright outpaced the field by nearly four seconds.
“The relay was exciting. The kids ran it super,” said Plymouth coach Paul Patrick. “They led it from probably halfway through the second leg and then Maggie got passed and then she opened it up with 100 meters to go on the third leg and then Allie never trailed. She never really got pushed.”
“I was excited,” said Fisher. “Our NLC time was that good and we had the fastest time coming in, but I wasn’t expecting to win. I figured we would be able to pull out second or third, but to win it was really exciting.”
While the Lady Pilgrims took top prize in the 3200 relay, Wright PRd with a 59.59 in the 400-meter dash for runner-up honors and a state qualification there. Fisher also recorded a PR in the 800 with a 2:18.48 but finished .24 of a second out of automatic state qualification in fourth place. All is not yet lost for the junior, however.
“We’re hoping that maybe she can get down on a call-back time,” said Patrick. “They’ll fill that race up with the fastest non-three qualifiers, and last year she was the fourth fastest. She was two full seconds faster tonight, and we’re hoping maybe she’s got a chance but we don’t know.”
Plymouth’s 1600-meter relay of Fisher, Wright, Emmelyn Brandt and Hunter Stevens placed one above their seed in ninth place in their event, while Shelby Harrell was 12th in the individual 3200, Cassie Quissell PR’d for 12th in the pole vault, Katelyn O’Neal finished 16th in the 100 hurdles, Read was 12th in the 800, Abby Patrick was 13th in the mile, the Pilgrims’ 400 relay of Traci Longanecker, Amanda Wolford, Nicole Snare and Meagan Maxwell was 14th in its event, Sammi Davis was 16th in the 300 hurdles, and Longanecker also competed in the vault for Plymouth.
CGA’s Amber Cowell was ninth in the 300 hurdles and 11th in the 100 hurdles, Motunrayo Adenuga was 15th in the 100-meter dash, Olivia Martinez was eighth in the 1600, the Lady Eagles’ 400 relay of Adenuga, Jessica Morgan, Jasmine Solola, Laura Ma finished 13th in their event, Kennedy Thompson was 14th in the 800, Laura Ma and Adenuga were 13th and 14th, respectively, in the 200, Solola was 14th in the long jump, Sharon Chen competed in the pole vault, Ma, Cowell, Solola and Hannah Buggeln were 14th in the 1600 relay and CGA’s 3200 relay of Thompson, Buggeln, Sarah Jamieson and Kathryn Gawor PR’d by nearly half a minute for eighth in their event.
Triton’s 3200 relay of Courtney Burns, Shana Anderson, Makayla Musilli and Allie Kann finished 13th in their event, Breanna Lemler was 15th in the 400, Autumn Kann competed in the high jump, and Megan Howdesehll was 14th in the discus and seventh in the shot put.
Bremen sophomore Sara Slabaugh finished sixth in the 1600, and teammate Kaley Gann was 11th in the long jump.
Culver Communities saw a pair of eighth-place finishes in the 100 and 200 from Kayla Shaffer, while Tatum Schultz was 14th in the 300 hurdles, and Donna Zehner finished fifth in the discus. Denisha Brown was injured in the 100 and placed ninth behind teammate Shaffer. She broke Shaffer’s school record in the 200 prelims with a 26.25 there, a time that would have been good enough for fourth in the finals of the event if not for her hard-luck injury in the 100 finals.
“It’s really disappointing, but we were kind of talking to her afterward,” said Culver Communities coach Mike Buschman. “If you have to have a disappointing injury like that at least you get to leave a mark. It’d be a lot more disappointing if she had nothing to show for it.”