ON YOUR MARK: Seymour and Brownstown Central athletes prepare for girls state track meet


All eyes will turn to the Robert C. Haugh Track & Field Complex at Indiana University on Friday.

The heats for the 2018 girls track and field state finals are set, and Jackson County will be represented by five different athletes across three events.

Seymour to compete in two events

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The fastest 4×800 girls relay team in school history from Seymour High School will bring its talents to IU.

Fresh off of a school record-setting time of 9 minutes, 44.74 seconds at the Bloomington North Regional, seniors Abby Voss and Claire Loebker, junior Ashton Chase and sophomore Makenna Sunbury will take to the field of 27.

While the team has succeeded much of the season, Owls coach Spencer Sunbury wasn’t sure how the 4×800 team would come together at the beginning of the campaign.

“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t sure who our 4×800 would be,” he said. “As the season went on and the girls worked and worked, I realized we would have a pretty good team.

“I knew that Abby, Ashton and Claire were strong half-milers. Makenna ran some of the 4×800 last year, but I wasn’t sure if she had all the speed we needed. She has dropped 15 seconds on her 800 time from the start to end of the season. I think she has gained a lot more confidence in herself. You can see it in the way she attacks her races.”

Makenna, like her teammates, said the strength of the relay team is the bond between the girls.

“We’re all really good friends,” she said. “Going up there is just another memory that we’re making. I’m really excited for it. It’s going to feel so surreal.”

The fastest time coming in is 9:13.56, while Seymour is seeded 22nd for the relay after finishing third at regional.

Chase will be the first runner in the relay, followed by Loebker and Sunbury before Voss anchors.

Both Loebker and Voss said they’re finishing their running careers at SHS on top.

“It is an exciting feeling,” Voss said. “Not everyone makes it to state. It’s an honor to go and represent Seymour. It’s the perfect way to end senior season.”

Loebker missed the 2017 track season due to injury, and Voss stepped away her junior year before coming back this spring.

“With Claire’s surgery at the end of cross-country two years ago, I think she wanted one more shot at proving herself,” coach Sunbury said. “She came out and worked hard this spring. I knew the effort would always be there.

“Abby ran her freshman and sophomore years but not last year. She came out this year and worked. I think it was the hardest I’ve seen her work in four years of cross-country and track. She was really gritty. She earned her spot as an anchor. She proved that if she was in a race situation, she would come through.”

Coach Sunbury said the goal is to break the record again, shooting for 9:40.

Loebker said she was pleasantly surprised at how well the team ran at regional and looks forward to state.

“We were all so excited,” she said. “I was actually really surprised. I thought the competition was going to be way more intense. We did really well, and I was so glad we could all push ourselves. We all had (personal records). I think it’s because we all have hardworking attitudes and want to reach our goals. None of us will back down. I know that we will always try our hardest. We all work so well as a team.”

Chase also will compete in the 1,600-meter run at state after finishing third at regional — her second straight year qualifying for the event. She’s seeded 24th of 27 with a time of 5:13.99.

Carmel sophomore Phoebe Bates comes in as the favorite to win after clocking 4:54.34 last week. The top four seeds all enter with times under 5 minutes in the mile.

“I just want to have fun this meet,” Chase said. “I have my girls with me, so it’s going to feel a lot different. We’re going to make memories and just go out, run and have fun. We need to all go out and show a lot of heart.”

At last year’s state meet, Chase ran 5:13.65 for 15th of 26. The school record in the mile was set by Zoey Johnson at the 2013 state meet in 5:06.6.

“I was anticipating, in the beginning of the season, her making it back to state,” coach Sunbury said. “I think adding the 4×800 takes away a little stress. Fortunately, she has a bigger gap between the relay and the mile. I think the 4×800 is a fun race for her and that being there with a team will fuel her more. It will make her more excited to race. Ashton is one that it doesn’t take a lot to get her fired up and excited. She’s a competitor. I think, if anything, running the relay could put her a little more at ease and help her keep focused.”

Brownstown’s Snodgrass making third straight trip to state

No Brownstown Central girls sprinter had advanced to three straight state finals before Brooklyn Snodgrass took third at the Bloomington North Regional last week.

The junior is running some of her best times in the postseason.

By hitting the finish in 12.61 at the regional, Snodgrass again punched her ticket to the big show.

“It’s really exciting to see her make it again in the same event,” Braves coach Maria Conklin said. “A lot of sprinters get slower throughout the year, but she was able to break her school record again. Her blocks have been pretty good. At sectional, she got out of the blocks really fast. I think regional was decent but not quite where she wanted. I think that’s where she can get an edge on people.”

In the sectional, Snodgrass beat her own school record in the 100 by clocking 12.47.

“I had a lot of adrenaline going into that race at sectional,” Snodgrass said. “Alexis Harsh (from Jennings County) and I have become pretty good friends, and she had beaten me a few weeks before. I wanted to come out and beat her. I really wanted to get the sectional title and had a really good race from start to finish.”

Going into state, Snodgrass is seeded 26th of 28.

This year’s state meet is one of the fastest in recent years with six sprinters coming in already meeting the state standard. The top three seeds are all under 12 seconds, and Brebeuf Jesuit junior Semira Killebrew is the favorite, coming in at 11.59.

“I don’t want to get last,” Snodgrass joked. “The seeds are pretty quick this year. They are a lot faster than last year. I’m going to come out and run my best. I’m going to have a lot of fast girls around me to push me. It’s going to take every bit of energy I have in me from start to finish.”

She placed 21st (12.70) her sophomore year and 24th (12.92) her freshman year at state.

Snodgrass said she isn’t as nervous going into this year’s state finals.

“I love their track at IU,” Snodgrass said. “It’s a different atmosphere. Everyone is friendly there and so excited and cheers you on.”

Only one female athlete has made it to state all four years in a career at BCHS. Distance runner Kassie Kovert represented the Braves from 2004 to 2008 before going to Purdue University.

“People are kind of in shock (of making it three straight years), but they also think it’s really cool,” Snodgrass said. “It’s really hard to go three years in a row. A lot of people have told me that’s a really big accomplishment.”

Conklin said she would like to see Snodgrass run around 12.3 at state.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

What: 2018 Girls Track and Field State Finals

When: 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Robert C. Haugh Track & Field Complex at Indiana University in Bloomington

Who: Seymour’s Ashton Chase, Claire Loebker, Makenna Sunbury and Abby Voss and Brownstown Central’s Brooklyn Snodgrass

Admission: $10


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