Seymour Unified track and field season kicks off

On a regular basis, Eric Juarez Zarate and A.J. Engel have reminded their new Unified track and field coaches that they were part of the team that made it to the state finals last year.

Seymour High School made history in 2021 by qualifying for the big stage for the first time. The Owls tied for ninth out of 12 teams.

That team lost 11 seniors to graduation, but several returnees are blended with newcomers this season.

In the opening meet Wednesday at Bulleit Stadium, the Owls and coaches Jackie Hare and Ronda Cain couldn’t have asked for a better start. They scored 75 points for the win, followed by New Albany with 65 and Columbus North with 64.

“We take times, but those kids, everybody knows what their time is, and everybody knows what they want to beat without us even telling them,” Hare said. “They are unified, and they are in it to win it. As coaches, I don’t think you could really ask for anything else. The attitude is awesome.”

Cain said the team had three weeks of practice before the opening meet, and she was definitely impressed with the effort and showing.

“Everybody did outstanding,” she said. “I saw a team unified. We were definitely a team. Everybody helped each other, and it was so great to see the ones that we were worried about that succeeded.”

Whether it was newcomer Rolando Baltazar-Felipe sprint around the track to easily win his 400-meter dash heat or returnee Claire Carlson run 100 meters as the girls 4×100 relay leadoff, the Owls had successes all around.

“They get here and they are serious and they are here to compete, so I think what they do here is even worlds better than what we’ve seen in practice because they are amped up and ready to go,” Hare said. “We had success and good times. I think everybody just pulled it out and did a really great job. It helps us just as much as it helps them to know that they are serious and that everybody on the team is taking is seriously. We all want to make it to state.”

Unified track and field started at SHS in the spring of 2018.

Unified Sports has been a joint effort between the Indiana High School Athletic Association and Special Olympics Indiana since 2012. It recognizes and offers opportunities for students with and without disabilities to participate on the same team for sports training and competition and compete in an IHSAA-sanctioned activity.

Senior Sami Foster has competed for three of her four years at SHS. The 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I absolutely just love it, and these kids just make me so happy,” she said after Wednesday’s victory. “Just seeing Claire celebrate at the end of running 100 meters is the best thing ever. The celebration, even with the smallest victories, I think that’s why I’ve stuck with it.”

After a good start to the season, Foster is excited about what’s to come.

“Just seeing how we develop and continue to grow, not only as a team but individually seeing each person continue to grow,” she said. “What a great way to start. Awesome start to senior year.”

Fellow senior Keara Riley said throwing the shot put, running the 100-meter dash and running the third leg of the 4×100 relay was tiring, but it was awesome at the same time.

“It’s just a good time,” she said of Unified track and field. “I like making friends and just having fun and doing your best.”

Another senior, Anne Lenart, is back for another year on the track. She said she’s happy to be doing long jump, the 100-meter dash and the 4×100 relay again this year.

Senior Levi Mora is a newcomer for the Owls.

“I just wanted to try something new, and I felt like I was getting quicker throughout the year because I’ve been running a lot here recently, so I just decided, ‘Yeah, I’ll see what I can do on the track here,’” he said. “And I wanted to help these guys out. This school, man, amazing team. I just want to help them out, not just for me, for them. They are getting the best of it, that’s for sure.”

He had a memorable opening meet when he lost his left shoe at the start of the 400-meter dash. He managed to lead the competitors in his heat and crossed the finish line with only one shoe.

Later, when the meet results were announced, he enjoyed celebrating with his new teammates.

“I was so excited. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what’s up?’ I was jumping up and down and smiling, pointing everywhere,” he said. “It was crazy. Amazing way to start the season.”

Zarate, a sophomore, said he’s happy to be back this year. In the first meet, he tried a new event, the 400-meter dash.

“I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, I don’t want to do a 400,’” he said, smiling, about trying something different. “Last year, I was just watching the 400 and I was like, ‘Should I do it?’”

He performed well in that event and also did shot put and ran the third leg of the winning boys 4×100 relay, which boosted the Owls to victory.

Engel, a senior, was the leadoff in that relay. He also ran the 100- and 400-meter dashes.

“The 100 was great, man. I loved it,” he said. “(The 400) wasn’t the greatest, but in the relay, I made up for it. It was great. I just couldn’t ask for any more from the relay team.”

Engel was in on the team celebration at the end, and he hopes the Owls have a lot more celebrating to do this season.

”It was fun,” he said. “This team is great. They are always behind me, they are always there for me and the coaches are wonderful.”

Seymour High School Unified track and field 

Coaches: Jackie Hare and Ronda Cain


Freshmen: Ally Bryant, Hailey Burke, Ashley Darlage, Mattie Findley, Eli Fox, Kimmey Garcia, Greer Henry, Kalli Napier, Maddie Schrader

Sophomores: Claire Carlson, Aleia Findley, Daniela Jimenez Viveros, Diliana Juan Gaspar, Eric Juarez Zarate, Rachel Lenart, Angelina Ortiz, Olivia Reinhart, Delaney Thomasma, Morgan Waskom, Andrew Wiggam, Jesse Young, Aleigha Zike

Juniors: Samantha Carter, Carly Kaiser, Ally Leinart, Maria Morales-Acevedo, Janette Romero-Sanchez

Seniors: Rolando Baltazar-Felipe, Kailee Edwards, A.J. Engel, Bailey Engel, Sami Foster, Anne Lenart, Levi Mora, Keara Riley, Kevin Robb, Caleb VonDielingen, Audrey Wiggam


April 6 Seymour 75, New Albany 65, Columbus North 64

April 27 at Columbus East with Jennings County, 5:30 p.m.

May 9 at Bedford North Lawrence with Columbus East, 6 p.m.

May 16 vs. Jennings County, 5:30 p.m.

May 21 at Floyd Central Sectional, 12:30 p.m.

Unified track and field 


At Seymour 

Seymour 75, New Albany 65, Columbus North 64 

(Seymour varsity results) 

Long jump: 1-Andrew Wiggam 16-95, 4-Rachel Lenart 11-6, Anne Lenart 7-35, Caleb VonDielingen 5-9

Shot put: 5-Levi Mora 30-4, 6-Audrey Wiggam 26-0½, 8-Eric Juarez Zarate 22-4½, Keara Riley 9-7½

100-meter dash: 3-Andrew Wiggam 12.78, 6-Zarate 14.37, 7-R. Lenart 14.39, 8-A.J. Engel 15.02

400-meter dash: 1-Rolando Baltazar-Felipe 1:05.25, 2-Mora 1:07.21, 5-Engel 1:11.34, Zarate 1:30.52

4×100 relay boys: 1-(Engel, Zarate, Eli Fox, Baltazar-Felipe) 57.75

4×100 relay girls: 2-(Anne Lenart, Samantha Carter, Keara Riley, Carly Kaiser) 1:17.72

(Seymour junior varsity results) 

Long jump: Greer Henry 10-10, Maddie Schrader 9-4, Jesse Young 7-9½, Kevin Robb (no distance listed)

Shot put: Morgan Waskom 21-8, Kailee Edwards 19-54, Angelina Ortiz 6-9, Claire Carlson 6-2

100-meter dash: Young 15.18, Ally Bryant 15.56, Kaiser 15.68, Daniela Jimenez Viveros 15.78, Edwards 17.49, A. Lenart 17.87, Riley 18.16, Robb 31.25

400-meter dash: Kaiser 1:19.95, Schrader 1:19.99, Samantha Carter 1:24.84, Young 1:39.30, VonDielingen 1:50.87, Robb 2:58.89