by Beau Wicker Sports Editor
---- — FAIRMOUNT — Pioneer freshman Madison Kiser made quite an IHSAA Tournament debut for herself on Tuesday.
Kiser broke the Madison-Grant Sectional record in the 400-meter dash with a time of 58.36 seconds. She defeated runner-up Kaitlyn Daanen of Northwestern by more than a second.
“It was definitely good competition tonight,” Kiser said, “but I was pushed and I’m definitely ready for regionals.”
Kiser also anchored the Panthers’ sectional champion 4x400 relay team. Lewis Cass junior Kelsey Smith was the champion in the 200 dash.
Kiser broke the sectional record in the 400 that was owned by none other than Brittany Neeley of Eastern’s famous Neeley twins who now run at IU. Neeley set the previous record of 58.55 in 2011 and was the state champ in the 800 a year ago.
Kiser thinks Neeley probably didn’t go all out in the 400 when she set the record, but either way it was quite a start to her career for the freshman.
“They’re one of my role models, I’ve always looked up to them,” Kiser said of the Neeley twins. “It’s great a feeling to be able to accomplish something like that.”
Pioneer coach David Gregorich is looking for big things from Kiser in the future.
“I don’t think there’s anybody that I’ve ever seen since I’ve been in track that works harder than her,” he said. “Natural talent to start with and obviously the work ethic, you can’t beat it. Obviously she could be good at anything, it doesn’t matter what we put her in she’s going to strive to be the best at it.”
Pioneer’s Maddie Boucher, Sarah Dorris, Bailey Storey and Kiser won the 4x400 relay in 4:11.95. They won by more than two seconds over the runner-up team from Cass.
Gregorich said he’s not sure the Panthers have ever had a sectional championship relay team in girls track.
“When you come into a bigger sectional it’s pretty tough to have a relay team win. Individuals, we’ve had a few in the past, even just an individual sectional champion is pretty cool,” he said.
The Panther relay consists of a junior (Dorris), sophomore (Boucher) and two freshmen (Kiser and Storey).
“They had a plan. They wanted to be a sectional champion 4x4 team,” Gregorich said. “It means a lot to them and it means a lot to me as a coach that they worked that hard and got that taken care of it.”
Smith took the 200 with a time of 26.12 seconds, which was 0.15 of a second faster than runner-up Tearsten Munson of Northwestern.
Smith was shooting for the 200 title and scratched in the 100 for it.
“It’s my favorite one and it’s the one I’ve really been working hard at,” she said. “It was a pretty good race. There’s some good competition and we’re all really close. We’ve been racing all year pretty close so it’s pretty nice.”
Cass senior Claire Crum set a school record in the 400 with a time of 1:00.95 and placed third to advance. The top four finishers in each event advanced to next week’s Fort Wayne Northrop Regional.
All three of the Kings’ relay teams advanced. The 4x400 team placed second and the 4x100 and 4x800 teams both finished third.
Logansport’s 4x100 relay team placed fourth to advance. The Berries also had an individual advance, as junior Jennifer Crafford placed third in the 1,600 run in 5:39.91.
Logan coach Randy Kuhn thought Crafford would have also been a top contender in the 3,200 but battled a hip muscle injury and finished sixth.
“She got hurt at the conference meet and she just hadn’t recovered from it. It’s just a struggle for her right now, so we’ll see what another week will bring and we’ll go from there,” Kuhn said. “I think she would have had a shot, especially in the two mile.
“This is a pretty good girls sectional. There’s some fast kids here. I thought my kids did as well as they could do.”
Pioneer also had two throwers advance. Mati DeWitt placed second in the discus (113-8) and Monica Compton placed fourth in the shot put (32-3).
Cass senior Maci Maupin placed fourth in the long jump (15-7.25) to advance.
Northwestern was the first post-Neeley twins sectional team champion with 108 points as the Tigers won their first ever sectional title. Kokomo was runner-up with 86 points and Western was third with 70. Cass (51), Pioneer (43) and Logan (35) finished 7-8-9 at the 13-team event.