Todd Sheely, the head coach of the Elkhart Memorial Unified Track team, admitted he had a few moments of disappointment after his Crimson Charger team came up a little short of repeating as the state champions, finishing in third place on Saturday at Indiana University.
Then after thinking about all the success his team has had in the past two years, the smile came back to his face.
"The competitor in me definitely came out and I was a little disappointed,'' Sheely admitted. "But after about 15 minutes or so, the accomplishments of this team in the past two years really hit me and how could I be upset? I'm just so proud of our kids.''
The Chargers got first place finishes from Tyler Lehner in the 400, along with Logan Mullins and Brian Ketchum in the mixed long jump. Memorial also had second place finishes from Amariah Donovan and Alicia Aguire in the mixed 100, the girls 400 relay team of Donovon, Viviana Ponce-Acevedo, Emily Kersten and Tatiana Ponce-Acevedo and Isiah Johnson in the shot put.
Valparaiso took home the team championship this year with 124 points, with Bedford North Lawrence second (109) and Memorial in third (101). Penn High School, in its first year competing in Unified Track, was fifth with 95 points.
"I took a look at the team pictures and Valpo and Bedford North Lawrence have about 100 kids and we are thrilled to have 48,'' Sheely said. "But I wouldn't trade our kids for the world. They have worked so hard and accomplished a lot in the last two years.
That includes three invitational titles, two sectional championships, a regional win, a third place finish at state and of course, last year's state championship.
At the IHSAA Girls State Track & Field Finals – which were still going on at press time – Elkhart Memorial's Morgan Dyer made the podium in the 1,600 with a time of 5:00.51, just missing the top six. According to Memorial head coach Adam Homo, the time beat her personal best by eight seconds.
The Penn High 3,200 relay team posted a third place finish in the first event of the day, as the team of Ellie Jankowski, Julie Smith, Brooke Neal and Nicole Marshall posted a time of 9:20.81, finishing behind state champ West Lafayette and second place Hamilton Southeastern.