BENNETT'S MINUTES: Wilson’s feat among best ever

Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Emma Wilson navigates the pack in the 3,200 on Saturday.
Banner Graphic/JOEY BENNETT

BLOOMINGTON — The Indiana High School Athletic Association has had a girls’ state track and field finals for the past 44 years, and Greencastle sophomore Emma Wilson did something on Saturday that hasn’t been done very often before.

And, with half of her high school career still left to go, she is in a position to move into even higher ground in the history of Indiana high school girls’ distance running.

Wilson’s double victory in the 1,600 and 3,200 on Saturday marked just the eighth time in more than four decades’ worth of competition that someone pulled off a win in the two longest distance events.

The most recent was Mishawaka’s Anna Rohrer in 2015. Others to complete the feat were Celeste Susnis of Kankakee Valley in 1990, Collette Douglas of Valparaiso in 1991, Katie Harrington of Carmel in 2003, Michelle de la Vina of Wheeler in 1999 and Alex Banfich of Culver Academies — the only female ever to do it twice — in 2007 and 2008.

Of that group, the one with the most interesting story is de la Vina, who was the only sophomore to pull off the 1,600-3,200 double win.

In her junior year, de la Vina won the 3,200 and placed second in the 1,600.

Greencastle sophomore Emma Wilson flashes a big smile as she ascends the winners’ stand.
Banner Graphic/JOEY BENNETT

According to the NWI Times, de la Vina “withdrew from prep competition for her senior year, and earned a scholarship at Arkansas on the strength of AAU accolades.”

The article continued to say that de la Vina did not find success at Arkansas, and “eventually more or less disappeared.”

Stay in school, kids.

The IHSAA groups the 800 and 1,600 events together in its records as “middle distance,” so there is no specific notation of runners with the most career victories in the 1,600.

Three runners have won the 3,200 for three consecutive years — Banfich from 2006-08, Susnis from 1988-90 and East Noble’s Amy Yoder from 1994-96.

Can Wilson pull off double victories for the next two years to become the first person EVER to accomplish that feat? Sure.

Will she? As Greencastle coach Craig Jordan said on Saturday, it’s hard to say.

From watching her perform for the past 15 months, it’s clear that Wilson has the talent, the work ethic and the determination to accomplish the feat.

There were physically smaller runners than her on Saturday, and there were taller ones. But there weren’t any faster ones.

There will be plenty of known competition for Wilson over the rest of her career.

The top four finishers in the 3,200 all return, with the second- and third-place finishers being sophomores like Wilson. Among the 1,600 frontrunners, three of the top four will return next year — and third-place finisher Ava Gilliana was just a freshman.

If they are all as competitive as Wilson, they will undoubtedly train even harder for next year — along with even younger athletes moving up from middle school — to knock her off the pedestal.

Wilson seems to have done a great job of avoiding the injury bug that sometimes plagues distance runners, and that aspect will obviously affect her future performance.

For a point of comparison, Wilson’s career best time in the 1,600 (set at this year’s regional) is 4:55.96. The state record in that event is 4:43.46, set by Waverly Neer of Culver Academies in 2011. Wilson has two years to trim 12.5 seconds off her time if she hopes to break that mark.

In the 3,200, Wilson’s best time was also at this year’s regional with her effort of 10:41.86. The state record in the 3,200 is 10:11.20, set by Rohrer in 2015 — putting Wilson a shade over 30 seconds away from that standard.

I would predict setting state records like those would be nice for Wilson, but she would gladly accept a few more trips to the top rung of the winners’ stand in place of them.

Her primary focus for now is cross country, where she hopes to pass the five returning runners from last fall who finished ahead of her in the state meet.

Don’t bet against her.

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  • "Can Wilson pull off double victories for the next two years to become the first person EVER to accomplish that feat? Sure.

    Will she? As Greencastle coach Craig Jordan said on Saturday, it’s hard to say."

    Please let her enjoy her victories! That's a lot of pressure to put on her for the next two years. She needs to know that her community supports her regardless of the outcome.

    Congratulations Emma!

    -- Posted by 3m50 on Wed, Jun 7, 2017, at 8:29 PM
  • I had to go the IHSAA website to find out where Greencastle finished in team standings. Emma's 20 points earned Greencastle 8th place.

    -- Posted by Ben Dover on Sun, Jun 11, 2017, at 9:18 AM
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