Depth and experience are two components to team success at the Class 1A Girls State Track & Field Meet.
Several communities in Carroll County have combined to give Milledgeville-Eastland both components, and the results have spoken for themselves. The Missiles finished tied for 10th in the team standings at last year’s state meet, and took fifth in 2017.
M-E is expected to be in the hunt for another top-10 finish this weekend in Charleston.
Eastland senior Sage Walrath has qualified for state in all four of her track & field seasons as a part of the Missiles’ relays. She also benefits from having state experience in volleyball and basketball with the Cougars.
Walrath, Olivia Sturrup, Jasmine Sturrup and Alyvia Woodard are seeded ninth out of 34 teams in the 4x100 relay with a sectional time of 50.89 seconds. Olivia Sturrup, Walrath, Woodard and Lydia Coatney’s time of 1:47.90 in the 4x200 relay is ranked fifth out of 33 teams.
“I wasn’t nervous at all going into the sectional. I knew we were going to make it,” Walrath said. “It’s definitely more intense down there with the atmosphere and the crowd. So having experience helps with the nerves.
“Plus, it helps with the entire program. The younger girls see us going to state, and that should push them to be the best version of themselves.”
Olivia Sturrup qualified for state in the same four events for the second year in a row. She won the 100 (12.52) and 200 (26.01) at the Erie Sectional a week ago, and also anchored the Missiles’ sprint relays. Both of her individual times are ranked fifth out of 34 competitors.
In addition to being faster out of the blocks, Sturrup made a change that isn’t so noticeable during competition.
“Last year, I didn’t really breathe when I ran,” she said. “Breathing has definitely made a difference, especially in the 200.”
Sturrup made the finals in the 200 last year, finishing ninth with a time of 26.74 – a time she’s improved by more than a second this season. She was also a part of the Missiles’ seventh-place sprint relays.
A junior at Milledgeville, Sturrup has also taken on a leadership role like Walrath.
“I try to show teammates how to get out of the blocks correctly, and push and motivate them to get better,” Sturrup said. “I want them to push their boundaries and try new things.”
Woodard will also be making her second state appearance in the long jump. She finished 10th at last year’s finals, but is ranked 17th out of 42 competitors with a season-best distance of 16-8 1/2.
Unlike her teammates, Eastland sophomore Karlie Krogman will be making her first state appearance. She is seeded 10th out of 32 competitors in the shot put after breaking her own program record with a toss of 36 feet, 11 inches at the Erie Sectional.
Krogman initially broke Brooke Johnson’s record of 34-10 1/2 back on April 25 with a toss of 35 feet. She made the switch to a glide kick this season instead of what she called “the freshman shuffle,” and has also benefited from a tweak in her finger placement.
“Before that, I had the shot up on my fingers, so basically it would roll off and crack my fingers,” Krogman said. “The point of shot put is to put the shot, so I put my pinkie finger on the outside so I wouldn’t throw it like a baseball.”
Krogman’s older sister, Katie, still owns the program record in the discus, and made state as a junior in 2017. This season, Karlie equaled her sister in heading downstate in two sports, a point of pride for the three-sport standout.
“I was always jealous of Katie since she went to state in volleyball and track,” Karlie Krogman said. “This year, I finally made it in two sports – basketball and track.”
Making it past Thursday’s preliminaries is Karlie Krogman’s main goal. Any result on Saturday is gravy.
“I just hope I don’t choke,” she said.