Jarrell, Norris take sectional titles on record-breaking night

May 15—PENDLETON — Even after the one event she did not win Wednesday night, Pendleton Heights junior Ava Jarrell was earning rave reviews from everyone who watched her anchor lap of the 1,600-meter relay that closed out the Pendleton Heights girls track-and-field sectional.

Taking the baton in third, Jarrell quickly made up the ground to take second and caught the leader, Lawrence North's Ava Grace Winters, heading into the final turn. While Winters had enough left in her own tank to outrun Jarrell to the finish line, the effort was not lost on the LN coaches, who stopped to praise Jarrell after the race.

"It's really cool because when it's the other coaches, that's really nice for them to go out of their way to come over and tell me 'good job,'" Jarrell said. "That feels really good."

The praise may also have had something to do with what Jarrell had already achieved during the competition.

Jarrell broke her own sectional record in winning the 1,600 before also claiming the 3,200 championship later in the event, leading Pendleton Heights to a third-place finish in the sectional.

Lawrence North was champion with 178 points, followed by Mount Vernon with 118.5, the Arabians with 71, New Castle at 62 and Daleville was fifth with 52 points.

Jarrell went out fast in the 1,600 and was ahead of last year's pace throughout and unchallenged in the race. She finished in 4:54.9, beating her time from a year ago by nearly seven seconds. She will now fully focus on the 3,200 next week at regional after taking that event in 10:58.63, beating her teammate and fellow regional qualifier Jaycee Thurman by almost a minute.

"I wasn't where I wanted to be, but it was OK," Jarrell said. "I was trying to pace by myself, and that makes it harder. But, trying to do it solo, it was pretty good."

Also advancing from PH was freshman Maddy Pfister, who placed third in the 100 after she was seeded fourth coming in. Hadley Walker stormed back late to take third in the 800 to move on and also — along with Addison Stanley and Ava Reed — joined Jarrell in advancing with the 1,600 relay.

Pfister, who placed fourth in the long jump, also advanced after one of the top-three scratched out of regional.

The Daleville effort was highlighted by Faith Norris taking home the 800 championship with a time of 2:24.64, edging Blue River Valley's Charlee Gibson by just under two seconds. The conference rivals were side by side until Norris nosed ahead and took control over the final 200 meters.

"Me and Charlee have always been competitive in cross country, and in the 800 she's an amazing runner," Norris said. "In the 800, I was just hoping to advance and wasn't expecting much."

Norris was also runner-up to Jarrell in the 1,600 and will advance. The Broncos will also await word on freshman Kynlie Keffer's chances to advance on time after she placed a strong fourth in the 3,200.

Eastern Hancock was sixth with 42 points, followed by Shenandoah with 26 points.

The Raiders will send Haley Hughes to the Pike regional next week after her third-place finish in the discus. Shenandoah coaches also felt the fourth-place 1,600 relay team — Brooklynn VanBuskirk, Kayci Hill, Lydia Waggener and Grace Lee — will have a strong enough time to advance, but that will not be official until all times from the other feeder sectionals are submitted.

Lapel was next with 21 points. The Bulldogs had a pair of regional qualifiers with Regan Stookey in the 200 and AnnaLee Stow in the high jump, both placing third.

Anderson followed with 18.5 points and their 400 relay team — Jacelyn Starks, Cambre'Anna Austin, Jamyia Foster and Maileyonna Johnson — placed third and will run next week at Pike.

Anderson Prep — which placed last as a team a year ago — was next with 17 points, well ahead of Blue River Valley's eight points and the six from Knightstown. Julia Smith, having already reached a senior goal of winning the Madison County 300 hurdles championship last month, crossed another goal off her list by qualifying for regional with a third-place run in the event Wednesday.

"I'm really excited. My main goal this year was to get to regional," Smith said. "Last year, I came out super slow, so I just came out as good as I can."

Jets coach Donald Quarles was ecstatic at the growth of his team, moving up three positions from last year in the standings and, aside from Smith, returns most of the talent next season.

"I'm very, very proud," he said. "Last year we came in last place and nobody believed in us. This year, we raised a bunch of eyebrows the first two weeks of the season, and we showed people what we were capable of doing."

Earlier in the day, it was also confirmed Frankton's Chelsea Newton had advanced to the Fort Wayne Carroll regional on time from Tuesday's Marion sectional after her fourth-place finish in the 1,600.

Contact Rob Hunt at or 765-640-4886.