Jamie Patterson opened the night with a strong performance for GHS in the 100 meters. Her time of 12.40 trimmed .29 seconds off of her seed time. Patterson placed fourth in the first heat of prelims and then had to wait for the other two heats to see if she would qualify for finals.
When all the times were in, Patterson was 10th, the lowest time not going to the finals. She had missed qualification by just .02 seconds.
"You can't blink your eye in .02 seconds," GHS coach Garry Anderson told some of his other athletes.
While the situation could have been heartbreaking to his runner, Anderson put it into perspective.
"It's unfortunately for her, but somebody's got to be 10th," he said. "She was (seeded) 17th and went down to 10th. My gosh, that's incredible."
Laura Weatherford's shot in the 200 came next. The junior came into the event with a 21st seed, so it was going to take quite an improvement to advance. Weatherford ran a 26.05, shaving .11 seconds off of her seed time. She also improved from 21st to 15th.
"I was hoping she'd get low enough to break the school record, but it didn't happen," Anderson said.
"It was nice to move up," Weatherford said.
"It was our goal to improve on position," he said.
"They could've come up here and flopped. They didn't. They're both competitive," Anderson said.
Although neither girl made the finals, both Patterson and Weatherford, along with teammates Megan Clodfelter and Laura English, could now focus solely on the 400 relay, in which the Tiger Cubs held the 12th seed. They began to really focus, believing that, just like last year, they could improve on time and seed enough to finish in the top nine, and thus earn a medal.
Anderson and the runners knew, though, it was going to take a very fast time to make it. GHS came in with a seed time of 49.23. Anderson figured it would take a sub-49 run to make the finals.
However, as the girls really began to focus, Mother Nature had plans of her own. As the 1,600 (the race right before the 400 relay) began, rain started falling. As the race concluded, lightning was sighted. At 6:40 p.m., just five minutes short of the scheduled start of the relay, the meet was suspended.
So the waiting game began. Storm cells continued to move through the Bloomington area for the next two hours. By IHSAA rules, an event cannot resume until 30 minutes after the last spotted lightning. The skies began to clear shortly before 9 p.m., and the meet resumed at 9:10 p.m., but only briefly.
As the first heat of the relay finished (GHS was slated for the second heat), lightning was seen again. The waiting started anew.
At 10:20 p.m. the meet finally resumed for good. Greencastle's team, which had now warmed up three times, was in the first race off the blocks.
The team ran a 49.04, finishing fourth in their heat. With the top nine seeds all running in the last heat, this did not bode well for a podium finish.
After the finals, Greencastle's 49.04 was good enough for a 12th place finish. They had held their seed.
While the time and placing were not as low as desired, Anderson was smiling and proud of his girls afterward. Their time was the best they'd run all year.
"It was outstanding. That was their best time of the year," he said. "I told them it would take below a 49, and that's what it took."
"I hate to end on a note like this, but it's our best time," he added.
The coach believed the rain had been a factor. Having to physically and mentally prepare for a race three times is tough. Additionally, the girls had not eaten in 10 hours. But Anderson also knew his team was not the only one dealing with these problems.
"That's hard, not just on my team, but any team," he said.
Patterson agreed the delay was a factor. After the race, she obviously wanted more.
"It took forever," she said. "I think we'd have done better if we didn't have that (delay)."
Clodfelter, the lone senior in the group, did not believe her career had ended on a sour note. She was smiling after the race, realizing she and her teammates had accomplished something excellent.
"It feels amazing. In the 4X100, we worked really hard. Coach always pushes us really hard," Clodfelter said.
"I know we didn't get as good of a time as we did last year, but I still think we did amazing," she added.
Reflecting on her four years of track, she chose to think about the closeness she had to the Greencastle track family.
"I've had many experiences I'm never going to forget. The track team is like my other family, and Coach is like my other dad. All the girls on the team are special to me."
At the other end of the spectrum from Clodfelter, English was at state as a freshman. However, the sense of awe at the team's accomplishments was much the same.
"It's amazing. All the girls here are really talented. We all did really well," English said.
"I'm planning to be back, for sure," she added.
Weatherford also seemed content afterward, knowing the team had run its best race of the year, in spite of all the weather distractions.
"(The meet) got off to a really good start. I was ready," she said. "The rain was a downer, but we pushed through it. It was a tougher field for the 4X100 this year."
Weatherford also knew she would have one more chance at the state finals next year as a senior. She wants to return to the top nine in her final campaign.
"My goal is to medal next year, but of course, that's everybody's goal," she said. "I may come back in an event other than the 200, like the 400 or 800. And hopefully our 4X100 will be back because we still have three of the four girls."
In his final assessment, Anderson simply had to say he had fun this year, having another good spring with his team.
"I've really enjoyed this year," he said.
Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex
IHSAA Girls' Track State Finals
(Putnam County Results Only)
100 -- 5. Jamie Patterson (GHS) 12.40.
200 -- 15. Laura Weatherford (GHS) 26.05.
400 R -- 12. Greencastle (Megan Clodfelter, Weatherford, Patterson, Laura English) 49.04.