May 14, 2024 at 11:46 p.m.
JCHS girls track

Sprint stars

Patriots win 4x100 relay, finish third in sectional
Jenna Dues (left) and Ariel Beiswanger of Jay County High School cross the finish line side by side Tuesday during the 200-meter dash as part of the sectional meet at Delta. They teamed with Morgan DeHoff and Matilda Mende to earn the Patriots’ only title of the event in the 4x100 relay. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)
Jenna Dues (left) and Ariel Beiswanger of Jay County High School cross the finish line side by side Tuesday during the 200-meter dash as part of the sectional meet at Delta. They teamed with Morgan DeHoff and Matilda Mende to earn the Patriots’ only title of the event in the 4x100 relay. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)

MUNCIE — The Patriots didn’t have the individual speedster who could dominate a race.

Put their top four sprinters together, though, and no one could catch them.

Jay County High School’s girls track team earned its lone championship in the 4x100 relay during Tuesday’s sectional meet at Delta, utilizing its depth of talent to overcome the teams that were able to beat them in the individual sprints.

The victory from Morgan DeHoff, Matilda Mende, Ariel Beiswanger and Jenna Dues led the Patriots to a third-place finish in the 13-team field with 74 points. They advanced athletes to the regional — the top three finishers automatically move on to the meet Tuesday at Pike — in five events.

The host Eagles won their third consecutive title with 161 points while Yorktown was the runner-up with 120. Wapahani trailed Jay County with 50 points.

“We did what we set out to do,” said JCHS coach Joe Imel, “just to get as many kids out as we could. …

“I’m really proud of the girls,” he added of the 4x100 team. “They took pride in that. I think they wanted to do better than that in the individual races, but that just shows how tight a group they are.”

Having lost their top sprinter from a year ago to graduation, the 4x100-meter relay didn’t seem to be the likely highlight event for the Patriots. But with the additions of Mende, an exchange student from Germany, and Beiswanger, a freshman, the sprinting group has thrived.

Having already broken the school record in the 4x100 relay to win the Allen County Athletic Conference championship, the JCHS quartet showed off its speed again Tuesday. It looked as if the race might be close at the midway point, but Beiswanger staked the Patriots to the lead on the third leg and DeHoff ran a strong final 100 meters with no one making a serious challenge.

“I was a little nervous … because we had someone pretty close, and then Ariel really ran well on this curve and got me a little bit of a lead going into the finish, which was wonderful for me,” said DeHoff, pointing to the north end of the track at Delta.

Jay County finished in 51.51 seconds, 0.23 seconds faster than runner-up Muncie Central.

All of the rest of the Patriots’ regional berths came with third-place finishes.

Jordyn Hutzler was in the lead in the shot put only to have Zoe Ogden (34 feet) of Union (Modoc) and Ruth Sherck (33 feet, 11 inches) of Delta surpass her on their final attempts. Her toss of 32 feet, 9 inches, was still good for third place and a regional berth.

“She’s been coming along here as of late,” said Imel. “She was in first all night long, and then the two girls on the very last throw threw their PRs to take first and second. So you’ve got to take your hats off to those two girls — really clutch performances …”

DeHoff claimed the No. 3 spot in the 100 hurdles, coming up just short of a runner-up finish. She crossed the line in 17.25 seconds, just one hundredth behind runner-up Lanie Burger of Winchester. (Delta’s Jillian Barr won in 16.41.)

Senior Cash Hollowell gave JCHS a second regional qualifier in the hurdles as she placed third in the 300 event in 50.69. She was less than two tenths of a second behind the top two finishers — Analyn Hymas (50.53) of Yorktown and Barr (50.56) of Delta.

“Morgan’s a workhorse. She’s been a workhorse for a long time,” said Imel. “100 hurdles, third place … She’s the anchor of that 4x1 team.

“Cash in the 300s, I’m just really happy for her to get out this year. Freshman year is the last time she competed in sectional. … I’m just really, really happy for her, personally, to make it out, move on, to finish up her high school career.”

(Hollowell suffered a season-ending knee injury early in her sophomore campaign and  missed last year’s sectional following injuries sustained in a car accident.)

The Patriots also earned a regional berth in the final race of the night, with Makinsey Murphy, Aixa Lopez, Mya Kunkler and Hollowell posting a time of 4:23.62 in the 4x400 relay. They weren’t in contention for the win, but had a five-second advantage over fourth-place Randolph Southern.

Jay County has a chance to get several more athletes through to the regional to fill out the field of 16. That group includes Mende, Dues and Lopez, who finished fourth in the 100 dash, 200 dash and 400 dash, respectively. (Those athletes will have to wait for an answer, as the Pendleton Heights and Lawrence Central sectionals were both postponed until Wednesday, as were the field events at the Decatur Central sectional.)

Also scoring with top-eight finishes for the Patriots on Tuesday were aDues (fifth – 100 dash), Hollowell (fifth – 100 hurdles) and DeHoff (fifth – long jump, eighth – 300 hurdles), Mende (sixth – long jump), Molly Muhlenkamp (seventh – high jump) and Kunkler (seventh – high jump). The 4x400 relay team of Alexis Sibray, Molly Muhlenkamp, Willow Hardy and Murphy placed seventh.

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