LOWELL — A handful of Lake Central athletes huddled near the start-finish line on a chilly Tuesday night awaiting the announcement of the final team results of the Lowell Sectional.
Once it was announced that Merrillville finished second, the Indians group screamed in jubilation, quickly running to accept the sectional trophy.
“It means everything to us,” said Kelani Benson, while clutching the trophy. Benson won the 100 in 12.29. “We’ve worked so hard this season.”
Lake Central edged Merrillville 142.5 to 136.5 points. Defending champ Crown Point was third with 102.5.
L.C. reclaimed its sectional supremacy after the Bulldogs snapped the Indians’ state record 25 consecutive sectional titles last year.
“This is really sweet, this was really sweet,” L.C. coach Ron Fredrick said. “Being away from it a year and getting this back was really, really meaningful. It was all the way down to the last event before that I knew that we had moved ahead of Merrillville.
“You have to give them credit. They’re well coached, and they are a very good team.”
Much like last week’s Duneland Athletic Conference meet, L.C. was able to hold off Merrillville for the title on the strength of its sprints and field events.
“The field events were a significant difference,” Fredrick said.
The top three finishers in each event, including relays, qualified for next week’s Portage Regional.
Makeda Ellis and Claire Urchell went one-two in the shot put for 18 big points for the Indians. Urchell was also fourth in the discus. Allie Mularski won the discus.
“I was just hoping I could get the points from my team because I knew that we needed every point that we could get, and I’m very excited,” said Ellis, who holds the school record of 42 feet, 2 inches.
She heaved it 38-4 to win sectional.
“The shot put and discus and all the field events really delivered for L.C. to get the 'W,'” Ellis said.
Lake Central got a win from Destiny Washington in the 300-meter hurdles, and she also placed third in the 100 hurdles. L.C.’s Maddie Rigg won the pole vault with a vault of 11 feet, and LaTreasure Johnson won the long jump with a 17-2 1/4 effort.
“I don’t know if we can do another 25 in a row, but I’m just happy with one,” Fredrick said.
Merrillville was paced by Cailyn Dilosa, who won the 400, and Akilah Ware, who took second. The Pirates also won the 400 and 1600 relays, and Dilosa was second in the long jump.
“It’s always fun,” Merrillville coach Kelly Kratz said. “Coming into the sectional, you get another opportunity to go against a couple Duneland teams. We just want to put a good meet together and advance as many kids as we can. I’m very proud of them. We fought and had a lot of great performances and some good surprises. That’s what the postseason is about.”
Crown Point got wins from Maddie Russin in the the 800 in a battle with Lowell’s Annalise James, Savy White in the 200 and Alyssa Hennessey in the high jump.
James won the 1,600 for Lowell, while Jordyn Boyer ran away from the pack to win the 3,200.