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Noblesville edges Warren Central for first Girls Track Crown

David Woods, Special to
Posted: June 3, 2023
2022-23 GTr Noblesville State Champions
Photo Credit: Double Edge Media @demllc

BLOOMINGTON – If there are lessons to be learned from the girls state meet in track and field, they are these:

There is redemption, team first, family matters.

“We still have one more year to do it,” said Laila Smith, a junior at Warren Central, which was edged by Noblesville 45-44 Saturday night.

In winning its first state championship in this sport, Noblesville climbed one place higher from 2022. That’s what Warren Central can do in 2024. That’s what Brownsburg’s boys did Friday night.

Girls scoring was the fourth one-point outcome in Indiana history. Cathedral edged Warren Central 40-39 in 2021.

Fittingly, Noblesville invited Warren Central’s girls to join them in a group photo holding first- and second-place trophies. It was a virtual tie anyway. Carmel was third with 33 points and Bloomington North fourth with 30. Heritage Christian was sixth with 27, all by Kya Crooke.

If there had been athlete-of-the-meet trophy, that could have been a tie, too.

State meet records were set by Rachel Mehringer (13.38) in the 100-meter hurdles, Gretchen Farley (2:04.95) in the 800 meters and Kailee Swart (13-6.5) in the pole vault. Smith had two seconds and two thirds, Nicki Southerland ran a 4:43.73/2:05.06 double, Crooke became the first to score in four individual events, and Alexia Smith went from seventh seed in the 400 meters to fifth in Indiana history.

3200 Meter Relay
The 3200 Meter Relay (Photo courtesy of Double Edge Media @demllc).


Noblesville completed a cross-country/track sweep of championships. Oddly, it wasn’t solely because of distance runners. Oddly, too, Noblesville became state champion after not winning in conference, sectional or regional.

The Millers scored in seven of 16 events, featuring 31 points in the field and 17 by thrower Hannah Alexander. She upset defending champion Hadley Lucas to win the discus, then improved on a No. 9 seed for third in the shot put.

“We talked about, ‘Hey, we can score all over the place,’ “ coach Jim Pearce said. “Keep scoring.”

That’s what Summer Rempe did. Her 2:09.98 anchor leg brought Noblesville from seventh to fourth in the 4x800 relay, and she climbed to sixth in the 800 meters. Rempe was also on the Millers' state championship in cross-country last fall.

Every point was precious.

Yet Smith, daughter of Warren Central coach Le’gretta Smith, elaborated on what was won and not lost. Laila missed all of last season to injury. She was second in the long jump (19-5) and 100 hurdles (14.19), third in the 300 hurdles (42.97) – all in personal bests. She ran a 56.69 anchor in the 4x400 relay, in which Warren needed second to tie Noblesville and finished third.

“It’s all I really could have asked for,” she said.

Aubrey Runyon of Franklin Community
Franklin Community's Aubrey Runyon in the 100 meter hurdles (Photo courtesy of Double Edge Media @demllc). 


Family was everything for Park Tudor’s Sophia Kennedy and Farley, too. Each won first state titles, extending legacies.

Sophia is the daughter of Bob Kennedy, an Ohio high school champion before becoming a two-time Olympian and American record-holder. Farley’s older sisters, Hannah and Abby, were three-time state champions in the 400 and 800, respectively.

“This is the most special moment. I remember as a little kid, sitting up in the stands, watching my sisters win and win,” Gretchen said. “I wanted to be just like them. To finally get it, it means so much. It really does.”

Farley vs. Southerland was perhaps the most compelling race of a memorable two days at Indiana University. At 2:04.95 and 2:05.06, they climbed to Nos. 4 and 5 in the nation this year. Both were under the state meet record of 2:06.26 set by Huntington North’s Addy Wiley last year.

Farley aimed for a fast first lap to gap Southerland. At 61.93, that did not happen. Instead, it became a reprise of the Pike Regional, where Farley held her off, 2:05.88 to 2:06.12.

“I saw her, and I felt her on my shoulder, and it was like, ‘All right. It’s on. Let the race begin,’ “ Farley said. “I knew she was going to do that. I had an extra gear in me because it was my only event today.

“That whole race, I just said, ‘I won, I won, I won.’ And I just kept going until I won. Never a doubt. It’s all mind over matter.”

With an evenly split 61.94/63.01, Farley approached Wiley’s fastest times -- 2:04.40 at Renton, Wash., in 2021, and 2:04.64 at Eugene, Ore., in 2022. Farley will have a chance to break the all-time state record June 14 in the Brooks PR Invitational.

Also at Brooks PR will be Kennedy, who won the 3,200 in 10:07.86, just off Lily Cridge’s state meet record of 10:03.16.

“Another chance to run fast out there,” Kennedy said. “Hopefully, it’s coming. Sub-10:00 in the works.”

Mehringer, of Forest Park, twice smashed her own state meet record in the 100 hurdles, winning a third title in 13.38. More impressively, she became No. 2 in Indiana history behind Rhonda Brady of Calumet. Brady, then 16, clocked a wind-aided 13.25 (+2.3) in winning the 1976 U.S. Olympic Trials. Brady's wind-legal best was 13.53, so Mehringer should be credited with the all-time Indiana record.

She ranks No. 7 in the nation this year.

“I wasn’t expecting a 13.3. But I was really hoping for something close to that,” she said.

She completed a hurdles sweep in 42.72 over Crooke (42.85) and Laila Smith (42.97).

Another record-breaker was Swart, of Cathedral, who became a pole vaulter after frequent injuries in gymnastics. She broke the record of 13-6.25 set in 2009 by Pendleton Heights’ Ellie McCardwell. Swart nearly no-heighted, requiring three attempts to make her opening bar of 12-3.

“That was a lot. I knew I had to make it,” Swart said. “I just had to do what I know how to do and make that bar. And then I knew I’d be fine for the rest of the bars.”

Kailee Swart of Indianapolis Cathedral
Kailee Swart of Indianapolis Cathedral set a new state record in the pole vault clearing 13-6.5 (Photo courtesy of Double Edge Media @demllc).


Until 2019, athletes were confined to three individual events and one relay. With the IHSAA now allowing four individual events, Crooke took advantage: first in the long jump, 19-10.75; second in the 300 hurdles; third in the high jump, 5-9, and eighth in the 100 meters.

“I knew beforehand that it was going to be difficult. So kind of worked with trying to save energy as much as possible – which was way harder than I thought,” the sophomore said.

Upset of the day was by Alexia Smith in the 400 meters. After finishing fourth in the long jump and second in the 100 meters, “I knew I had to win something today,” she said.

The Evansville Bosse sprinter, out of lane 8, turned in a 54.12 that made her No. 5 on Indiana’s all-time list (just ahead of Hannah Farley, 54.21 in 2008).

Less of an upset, but nevertheless a surprise, was the 24.50 by Connersville freshman Ahniyah Bennett in the 200 meters. She was fifth in the 100, an event in which she was projected to be a potential champion. Angel Thomas of South Bend Adams took the 100 in 11.65.

“I was upset about that 100. That made me run faster than I normally do,” Bennett said.

Other field event champions included Lucas, of Bloomington North, who repeated in the shot put at 49-5, and Wood Memorial high jumper Josie Page at 5-10.

49th Annual IHSAA Girls Track & Field State Finals
Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex, Indiana University

Bloomington, Indiana

Top 10 Teams  
1. Noblesville 45
2. Warren Central 44
3. Carmel 33
4. Bloomington North 30
5. Center Grove 28
6. Heritage Christian 27
7. Brownsburg 26
8. Evansville Bosse 23
9. Columbus North 22
T10. Forest Park 20
T10. Fishers 20
T10. Park Tudor 20
T10. Bloomington South 20
T10. Indianapolis Cathedral 20

State Champions
3200 Relay: Columbus North (Lily Baker 12, Julie Klaus 12, Carys Glyn-Jones 10, Jessica Meza 12), 9:11.22
100 Meters: Angel Thomas, 12, South Bend Adams, :11.65
100 Hurdles: Rachel Mehringer, 12, Forest Park, :13.38 State Record
200 Meters: Ahniyah Bennett, 9, Connersville, :24.50
1600 Meters: Nicole Southerland, 11, Delta, 4:43.73
400 Relay: Brownsburg (Darrelle Rice 12, Izzy Neal 10, London Smith 9, Paige Kirtz 12), :46.71
400 Meters: Alexia Smith, 12, Evansville Bosse, :54.12
300 Hurdles: Rachel Mehringer, 12, Forest Park, :42.72
800 Meters: Gretchen Farley, 12, Park Tudor, 2:04.95 State Record
3200 Meters: Sophia Kennedy, 12, Park Tudor, 10:07.86
1600 Relay: Carmel (Gabriela Grande Rosas 9, Olivia Cebalo 10, Cambell Wamsley 12, Emily Norris 10), 3:47.86
Discus: Hannah Alexander, 11, Noblesville, 158-08
Shot Put: Hadley Lucas, 11, Bloomington North, 49-05
Long Jump: Kya Cooke, 10, Heritage Christian, 19-10.75
High Jump: Josie Page, 11, Wood Memorial, 5-10
Pole Vault: Kailee Swart, 12, Indianapolis Cathedral, 13-06.50 State Record

Rachel Mehringer of Forest Park High School Takes Home Mental Attitude Award
Members of the IHSAA Executive Committee named Rachel Mehringer of Forest Park High School as the winner of this year’s Mental Attitude Award in Girls Track and Field.

Rachel is a three-time State Champion in the 100 Meter Hurdles and she broke her own State Meet Record in the 100 Hurdles on Saturday, finishing with a time of :13.38. Rachel also won the 300 Hurdles state title Saturday night. Rachel is a highly decorated runner.

Rachel has earned a 3.80 GPA in the classroom. She was a four-year member of the Forest Park chorus and Forest Park Volleyball team. She actively volunteers her time assisting her community through her church and spends summers working for Anderson Woods, a summer camp designed to offer camping opportunities to children and adults with special needs.

The daughter of Kerri and Tori Mehringer of Schnellville, Rachel will attend Indiana State University on a Track scholarship and will study physical therapy.

The IHSAA Executive Committee, on behalf of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, presented a $1,000 scholarship to Forest Park High School in the name of Rachel Mehringer.

Hadley Lucas of Bloomington North
Junior Hadley Lucas of Bloomington North repeated as shot put state champion with a throw of 49-5 (Photo courtesy of Double Edge Media @demllc).