With 13 freshmen and sophomores on a roster of 17, South Central coach Rachel Werner knew the program's future looked promising.
As it turns out, the future is now.
The Satellites went 11-0 in the dual season and captured their first Porter County Conference round-robin title since the school joined the ranks in 2003.
"Part of me is surprised. Part of me's not," Werner said. "To be honest, I really felt we'd be good. I just didn't realize we would pull this off as young as we are. That's a big hurdle."
Werner coached the eight freshmen, including daughter Kyleigh, a distance standout who already has broken records in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, at the junior high level last season. She also was familiar with the sophomore group from the prior year, when she was the junior high boys coach.
"I knew there was a lot of talent in the high school program," Werner said. "I knew they were missing a few things, but there were girls coming up to fill in some blanks. We're pretty well covered. I'm very fortunate to have a good jumper, a good thrower, good short distance, good middle distance and good long distance all together at one time."
Savannah Little, one of only two juniors on the team, sensed the potential for big things back in March.
"The first day of practice, I could tell all the talent we had," Little said. "I was excited for the season, to surprise everybody."
S.C. opened some eyes early on when it edged Hanover Central. It locked up the title last week with a win over four-time defending champion Hebron.
"It was a sweet victory," Little said. "No one expected us. People were so shocked. They were like, South Central? They beat who?"
In addition to Werner, the 400 relay of Little, high jumper Sydney Payne, hurdler Taylor Johnson and Rylee Nunemaker broke the school standard that had stood for 26 years. Johnson busted the 100 hurdles mark and Nunemaker topped her own record in the 100.
"They're all pretty talented, pretty focused athletes," Werner said. "I try not to put a lot of pressure on them. I tell them, let me worry about the worrying, you just stay healthy, keep working hard and show up and do what you do best."
While the team has its stars, Werner emphasizes it's an all-hands-on-deck approach, with everyone contributing.
"Some of them have to do four events," she said. "They're willing to do whatever they're asked. There have been a lot of times where if somebody doesn't score that one point, we don't win. From the top leaders to the person who's maybe not sure of herself, they're all important."
Werner also gives the team an A in chemistry.
"They're not selfish," she said. "They cheer for each other. If somebody sets a record, they're there hugging them. It's really awesome to watch. They enjoy being together. There's none of that girl bickering. You don't always get that combination with a group. They're just a pleasure to coach. They're like a family."
South Central will try to build on its round-robin success in tonight's PCC meet. Little speaks for the group in expressing her excitement about the postseason — and beyond.
"It's only going to go up," she said.