10 Distance Stories to Watch Going Into the State Tournament

Top 10 Distance Stories to Watch Going Into the 2012 State Tournament

By Drake Sterling and Colin Altevogt



1.      Can anyone stop the Sisters Neeley? The seniors from Eastern (Greentown) have lied relatively low since Bethany ran 4:57 for 1600 and Brittany ran 2:14 for 800 at the New Balance Indoor Nationals. Bethany was also the champion at the Flashes Showcase in mid-April with Brittany not too far back in the race. Assuming that each runs her best event in the tournament, Bethany should be the odds-on favorite in the 1600, although she’s certain to face a host of challengers that could include Center Grove’s Tori Schoettmer (last year’s runner-up), Hamilton Southeastern’s Rachel Nichwitz (runner-up at the Flashes Showcase), Colleen Weatherford (third at Flashes Showcase and All-State in last year’s 800) and perhaps Ashley Erba. Brittany should get strong competition from Evansville Central’s Taylor Wiley (third last year and runner-up in 2010) and potentially Willman and Hostetler.


2.      Who is the girls team favorite?
Lawrence Central is currently ranked number one by both Indiana Runner and the coaches association. We split with the coaches on the number two team, with us tabbing nine-time (and co-defending) state champion Fort Wayne Northrop and the coaches picking Hamilton Southeastern. A quick tabulation of the current leaderboards look like this…

1) FW Northrop 55
2) Lawrence Central 50
3) Pike 43
4) Westview 39

Pike and Westview may be dangerous if the top two teams split up but are both heavily dependent upon stars. Pike will need a huge day from senior Morgan Yeadon, who was first in the 200 and second in the 100 last year at the state meet. She currently sits first in the 100 and fifth in the 200 on the leaderboards, with her 4×100 relay holding the second best time thus far. The Devils will need that and more from her to keep pace with the top two. More on Westview’s superstar later.


3.      The Boys State Finals 4×800: Avon and Pike are on fire…and dead even! You can’t count out Lawrence Central who has all the tools to put a team back in the low 7:40’s. Snider won indoors in 7:53 and has laid low all outdoor season (notice Dutton not on the current 800 top 25 list). Also look out for Warsaw who will boast two splits under 1:55 most likely. After that it gets messy, as we look at multiple teams capable of going under 7:55. The State Meet atmosphere always adds to the chaos in the 4×800. It’s anyone’s guess come race day.


4.      The 800 favorites lay low: The top two returners from last year’s 800 have not run any faster than 1:57. To their credit, they both have 4:20 or faster 1600’s to their belt. Will they both be able to put it together and give current favorite, Matt Dorsey a run for his money?

5.      What to do with Willman? Noblesville has a decision to make with superstar Helen Willman in each round of the tournament. Willman is currently in the top nine in all three distance events, with her team also holding the state’s best 4×800 performance by over seven seconds. Last year, she was third in the 1600 and fourth in the 800. Will she sacrifice an individual event—it seems unlikely that someone not named Neeley will win the 1600—for relay glory?


6.      The South has risen! Connor Sorrells had an amazing month of April as we featured him for a close call Athlete of the Month. Can he keep it up into June? Time will tell. Also, lately, Tyler Schickel has been on a roll, running 9:07 and 4:13. He appears to be coming on strong when it counts. Also, keep an eye on IR Blogger, Caleb Kerr, who is set up nicely for a great end to his season.


7.      How to handle Hostetler? The Fremont sophomore is one of only two girls to rank in the top nine in the 800, 1600 and 3200. Since Fremont is a school of just 385 students, there won’t be any relay considerations deep into the tournament. Hostetler should get her pick of events, but probably has to decide on two of three. She was a finalist in both the 1600 and 3200 as a freshman, finishing All-State in the latter.


8.      Jason Crist’s final attempt at an Individual State Championship: He’s finished 2nd twice (2010 Cross Country and the 2010 1600 Final) as well as 4th in last year’s 1600. He looked extremely strong at the Miracle Mile, taking down some big kickers.


9.      How low can they go in the Girls 3200? State cross country champion Ashley Erba got things started by running 10:40 indoors at the Indiana Runner Showcase in January. Then, North Central’s Brenna Poulsen and Northridge’s Corrine Cominator ran 10:36 and 10:39, respectively, on the same day. A week later, Carmel’s Renee Wellman—last year’s runner-up and preseason favorite in the event—ran 10:44. All of these efforts have come relatively solo (although Poulsen did gap Wellman early in her 10:36). How fast can they run in a race together?


10.  Futsum Zienasellassie will be competing in both the 1600 and 3200…at least at Sectionals. He could very well decide to drop one or the other after a round or two of the tournament. Futsum has recently expressed quite a bit more interest in the 1600. After setting the All-Time State Best at 3200 meters, he has shifted his focus to a new challenge. He’s already signed up for the Adidas Dream Mile – where Lukas Verzbicas broke 4:00 last year and Austin Mudd went 4:01.83. We really didn’t know what to expect from Futsum at 1600/Mile until recently. He showed speed in March, running 1:54 for 800…then ran basically a solo time trial at the Marion County Meet, going out in :57, and 2:00 en route to a 4:10 personal best. Can Futsum win both the 1600 and the 3200 at the State Meet? Absolutely! Can he win both and break the 3200 meter State Meet Record? That’s the storyline to watch!

One response to “10 Distance Stories to Watch Going Into the State Tournament”

  1. James says:

    The Neeley twins are juniors.