Carol Bauer has always known she’s had a good girls track team at Fieldcrest.
A good girls track and field team, however, was a different story.
“We’ve always had talented athletes, but we’ve never put together a true team,” the Fieldcrest coach said. “We could always win track meets, but we could never win track and field meets.”
That was until Saturday.
Backed by points in 12 of the 18 events, the Lady Knights scored 88.5 points to edge second-place Henry-Midland (78.5) and third-place Princeton (66) to win Saturday’s Rollie Morris Invitational at Hall.
It’s the first major invitational team title Fieldcrest has ever won in the school’s 21-year history, according to Bauer.
“I’m about to cry. It’s incredible,” said junior Maria Baldwin, who won two events Saturday. “I never thought that in my high school career I’d ever be part of a team that would win a title. This is amazing.”
Baldwin and sophomore Tessa Holland led the Fieldcrest charge as each won a pair of events Saturday.
In her first 3,200-meter run of the season, Baldwin cruised to a victory with a time of 12:12.39, while she also won the 1,600 with a mark of 5:36.77.
Holland soared to a victory in the high jump with a leap of 5 foot, 3 inches, while she was also victorious in the 300 hurdles with a time of 48.42.
Holland also placed second in the long jump and anchored Fieldcrest’s runner-up 1,600 relay.
“We’ve always been known for having decent distance kids but not a true track and field team,” Bauer said. “Now, we’re picking up points in the field events. It was an influx of some very talented freshmen, and that just ups the level at practice.
“In the past, we’d have four kids who were on the relay and this person is the alternate. Now I have six or seven girls who are all fighting for that spot. There’s a lot of excitement going on and they want to be part of it, so they have to work harder at practice just to earn the spot.”
In all, 15 local athletes or relays won events on Saturday, with five athletes claiming two individual titles.
In addition to Baldwin and Holland winning multiple events, Mendota junior Kaitlyn Horn swept the weights as she won the discus (35-5) and the shot put (104-1).
Princeton senior Phoenix Smallwood won the long jump (15-5 1/2) and the triple jump (35-6), while junior Zoe Mead picked up victories in the 200 (27.15) and the 400 (1:01.96).
“This is awesome,” said Mead, who also swept the 200 and 400 at Princeton’s Howard-Monier Invitational earlier this month.
Henry-Midland’s second-place team finish was anchored by its relays as the Timberducks claimed the 400 relay (53.38), the 1,600 relay (4:18.08) and the 3,200 relay (10:31.53).
It’s the second consecutive year H-M finished second at the Rollie Morris Invitational.
“Given that we are missing some of our team today, I thought we did really well,” H-M coach Clark Owsley said. “I didn’t really place our kids to win the meet; I just put them so that they’d do well individually. In hindsight, maybe I’d do it differently if I knew we’d be so close, but for us to place second is really good.”
Other area winners include Putnam County’s Paige Griffith in the 110 hurdles (17.63) and Hall’s 800 relay (1:56.14).
Notes: While Fieldcrest won the team title, Mendota placed fifth (48), Bureau Valley sixth (47), Hall seventh (45), Putnam County eighth (41) and St. Bede 10th (14). … With only two competitors in the pole vault, neither Princeton’s Sierra Storm nor Bureau Valley’s Krista Naaktgeboren cleared a height meaning no competitor won the pole vault.
Jared Bell is a NewsTribune Sports Writer. He can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.