KNIGHTSTOWN — The weather was agreeable for this year’s version of the annual Panther Invitational track & field meet at Knightstown High School’s Don Willard Field Friday evening, and seven local athletes won eight of the individual events plus a relay.
Shenandoah, Tri, and host Knightstown were this year’s team participants from the local area, and each of them had at least two athletes win an event. Eight schools fielded teams for both the girls and boys meet.
South Decatur was team champion of the girls meet with 113.5 points. Finishing second through eighth, respectively, were North Decatur 105, Shenandoah 89, Tri 72, Waldron 70, Milan 48.5, Knightstown 36, and Indiana Math & Science 32.
Shenandoah senior Erikka Hill was a dual winner in both shot put and discus. Hill, the defending IHSAA state champion in girls shot put, had a monstrous throw on her first heave, as the heavy sphere traveled 46-3, which was the winning distance. Hill’s toss was an astounding 17-3 further than those of Tri senior Averi Phelps and Shenandoah junior Baylee Kokena, who tied for second place at 29-0.
Hill’s first heave on Friday broke her previous school record by more than two feet. That mark was set in the 2019 IHSAA state finals.
Hill, who will compete in track & field next season for the University of Miami (Florida), also finished first in discus, as she hurled the dish 120-2, which was 22-6 further than that of second-place Phelps.
Hill placed third in the girls 100m dash in 13.72 seconds, behind first-place Hope Barker (13.53 seconds) of North Decatur and second-place Jalynn Webb of Indiana Math & Science.
Tri junior Gracin Jessup won the girls high jump event with a leap of 4-9. South Decatur senior Lana Bell also matched Jessup’s height, but Jessup was awarded first place because she did it on fewer tries. Shenandoah sophomore Ali Brown placed fourth (4-7).
Knightstown senior Makinze Garrity won the girls 200m dash with a time of 28.51 seconds, 0.26 seconds ahead of Indiana Math & Science sophomore Jalynn Webb. Garrity also placed fifth (13.75 seconds) in the 100m dash.
Tri senior Maddie Burchett won the girls 100m hurdles in 18.54 seconds, just 0.01 seconds ahead of Shenandoah junior Lexi Gruesbeck, who finished second. Raider sophomore Lillian Coccia placed sixth (21.64 seconds).
In addition to those already mentioned, several other local girls placed sixth or better in events.
Tri freshman McKaela Betsch was second in the girls 300m hurdles (57.46 seconds). Tri sophomore Stella Houchins placed second (1:09.06) and Shenandoah junior Holley Shepherd fifth (1:11.86) in the 400m dash.
Shenandoah junior Abby Buskirk was second (6:25.99) and Knightstown sophomore Cassidy Bertram sixth (6:50.02) in the 1600m run; Knightstown sophomore Alexis Shaw placed fifth (14:48.66) in the 3200m run; Tri sophomore Lilli Cox was fifth in long jump (13-3.5); and Shenandoah freshman Madison Cooper finished sixth (3:13.23) in the 800m run.
In the relays, Shenandoah (56.05 seconds) was second, Tri (56.44 seconds) third, and Knightstown (57.77 seconds) fifth in the 4x100m; Tri (4:54.38) was second and Shenandoah (5:01.10) fourth in the 4x400m; and Shenandoah (12:01.50) was second and Knightstown (12:37.27) fifth in the 4x800m.
Milan won the boys team championship with 126 points. Finishing second through eighth, respectively, were Tri 101, South Decatur 94, North Decatur 77, Waldron 66, Shenandoah 60, Knightstown 40, and Indiana Math & Science 5.
Knightstown senior Sam Thomas placed first in boys discus with a toss of 131-10, a distance that was 18 feet further than that of second-place Kaden Riggs (113-10), a Tri junior. Thomas also was fourth in shot put (40-0) and Riggs sixth (36-2).
Tri senior Luke Hill won the boys high jump with a leap of 5-7, one inch further than that of South Decatur junior Kelby Shook.
Shenandoah senior Justin Hummel won the boys 110m hurdles with a time of 18.22 seconds, which was 0.14 seconds faster than North Decatur sophomore Ellis Loehmer, who was second. Tri sophomore Gary Paull (18.51 seconds) placed third and Knightstown freshman Isaiah Paris fifth (19.89 seconds).
The Titan 4x100m relay team of Vade Dishman, Parker Burk, Luke Hill, and Christian McLemore finished first with a time of 46.03 seconds, 1.89 seconds ahead of the second-place team from North Decatur. Shenandoah (49.23 seconds) placed third and Knightstown (49.41 seconds) fourth.
Several other local boys placed sixth or better in events. In the 200m dash, Tri senior Vade Dishman placed second (23.80 seconds), Titan junior Christian McLemore third (24.03 seconds), and Shenandoah sophomore Keaghun Fitch fifth (25.20 seconds). Dishman was third (11.48 seconds), McLemore fourth (11.63 seconds), and Fitch sixth (12.13 seconds) in the 100m dash.
In the 400m dash, Tri sophomore Gary Paull was second (54.40 seconds) and Tri freshman Kyran Huffman fourth (58.10); Shenandoah sophomore Logan Renz was fifth (2:33.64) in the 800m run; Shenandoah sophomore Sam Hinshaw finished third (5:17.65) in the 1600m run; and Shenandoah sophomore Clayton Lovett placed fourth (49.35 seconds) in the 300m hurdles.
In boys long jump, Tri senior Vade Dishman placed second (20-10), Shenandoah sophomore Dylan Ayres third (19-5), Tri junior Christian McLemore fourth (19-5), and Knightstown sophomore Mason Fields fifth (18-04).
In boys shot put, Knightstown senior Liam Orcutt finished third (40-4) and Tri sophomore Parker Burk fifth (37-1).
In the other two boys relays, Tri placed second (3:58.58), Shenandoah fourth (4:02.15), and Knightstown sixth (4:30.42) in the 4x400m; and Shenandoah was third (10:11.03) in the 4x800m.