CHESTERTON | Lake Central pole vaulters Brooke Lambert, Katie Brown and Kaitlyn Moricz have dominated the area all season, placing 1-2-3 in every meet they've entered.
It was only fitting that the trio secured the Indians' third regional title in a row Tuesday, scoring 24 points with their finish to lift L.C. over Merrillville, 85-68. All three qualified for state, exceeding the 11-3 standard, which is believed to be a first in Indiana.
"It's awesome. We've been waiting so long," Lambert said after breaking the meet record with a vault of 12 feet, 3 inches. "We want to finish it out -- that's the goal."
Merrillville led for much of the meet on the strength of Airrica Harper's big day, but the vaulters brought home Lake Central's fifth regional title in six years.
"It's nice to have. I just wish they'd score (pole vault) a little earlier, so they're not announcing us not being in first place," L.C. coach Ron Frederick said. "We've been trying for six years (to qualify three). It's no accident. They vault, vault, vault. You're talking three girls who should be in the top nine at state. The bar's been set at 13 (feet in practice), and 13 will win state."
Moricz had one of the Indians' other two firsts, repeating in the long jump with a leap of 18-2. L.C.'s 1,600 relay held off Chesterton to cap the night.
Harper (100, 200), the defending champion in her events, and LaPorte's Elena Lancioni (1,600, 3,200) were double winners, with Harper also helping the 400 relay to a victory.
"I don't want to even think about state. The girls are so fast," Harper said. "I just want to get a bag of Doritos and a Pepsi.
"I wanted to come out and repeat like last year. I had a lot of pressure from (Wallace's) Arielle Borders -- she's my best friend -- (K.V.'s) Leanna Mulloy and my teammate, Anjelica Peppers. Overall, I'm pretty happy, considering it was really hot. I was trying to stay hydrated. I felt a little bloated."
Bowman's Keyera Lige denied Kassidy Swenson a hurdles sweep, but the Valparaiso senior qualified for state in both for the third time. She missed her sophomore season due to a knee injury.
"I definitely feel grateful to have the opportunity," Swenson said. "(The 100s) felt really fluid, nice and simple. (The 300s,) I was a little tired at the end, but I tried my hardest."
Chelsie Meeks of Rensselaer repeated as discus champion with a throw of 141-8. Wheeler's Kelly O'Shea took the 800, while two freshmen -- Merrillville's Alivia Ash (high jump) and Michigan City's Jasmine McLemore (400) --- also captured firsts.