Pair of Warriors earn sectional championships

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Pair of Warriors earn sectional championships

File photo by Travis David | North Knox senior Briley Utt spins in the discus ring during a meet earlier this season. On Tuesday, Utt became a sectional champion in the shot put at the Princeton Community Sectional. Utt will be making her second straight trip to the regional in the event.
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Last season Briley Utt was able to experience a regional track and field meet by qualifying third at the sectional. But in her final year in a Warrior uniform, the North Knox senior wanted a different experience.


Utt wanted to head to the regional as a sectional champion.


Mission accomplished.


The Lady Warrior senior lived up to her No. 1 seed in the shot put at the Princeton Community Sectional on Tuesday and was crowned a sectional champion for the first time on the track.


Utt will not be heading to next week’s regional alone either. Freshman Olivia Knabel also claimed a sectional championship, winning the 400 meters.


“I could not be more proud of our entire team,” Lady Warriors’ coach Josh Adams said. “The kids all looked like they were having fun competing in the soaking rain. And I am glad to be able to work with Briley and Olivia for at least one more week.”


In the shot put, Utt entered as the top seed. In the first throw of the finals, the North Knox senior had her top throw of the night which went for 32 feet, 7 inches. South Knox’s Meredith Adams also matched Utt’s mark, but the Warrior thrower had a better second throw, which is the first tiebreaker.


“It was really fun,” Utt said of being a sectional champion. “I didn’t throw as well as I wanted to but I just went in hoping that I could do well enough to get the win so that was exciting knowing that I will be going to the regional as a sectional champion.”


Utt also competed in the discus and placed fifth.


The top three place finishers automatically qualify for the regional.


“I am not the greatest discus thrower and never claim to be,” the senior said with a chuckle. “So I didn’t really expect to get out.”


Utt entered the event seeded sixth. 


She admitted the weather (heavy rain) affected her throws, but everyone else battled through the same elements as well.


“It was actually a pretty good downpour at times during the discus,” she explained. “Not very many of the girls had their best throws, but the shot put went afterward and it wasn’t near as bad. My socks were soaking wet, which bothered me some, but there weren’t any puddles or anything in the ring and it didn’t affect my mechanics.”


File photo by Travis David |
North Knox freshman Olivia Knabel runs towards the finish line in a race earlier this season.
On Tuesday, the Lady Warrior freshman won the sectional in the 400 meters at the Princeton Community Sectional.


In the 400, Knabel let the competition set the pace early in the race and she made her move on the final turn and down the straightaway. 


“I was probably middle of the pack until around that last curve then I remember there were a few seconds where it was me in line with two other girls and I just slowly started to pull away,” the freshman explained. “I knew the curve was going to be the equalizer because it always is. I was just trying to hold my position and then kick it in for the last 100 meters and I knew I would have a shot.”


As she pulled ahead and could see the finish line in sight, Knabel used another sense to make sure she held her top spot.


“So at the start of the race, one of the girls next to me was wearing a very distinctive deodorant,” Knabel explained with a smile. “And when I was coming down the straightaway, I caught wind of it again so I knew she was close and I didn’t want to let up.”


The freshman knew entering the race that she would have to post a personal record if she wanted to advance to the regional.


“I knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Knabel said. “I was going up against a lot of runners older than me and who had been doing this longer than I had, but looking at the (seed) times, we were all super close.”


It also took a little while for the freshman to process what had just happened.


“I felt like I was going to pass out,” Knabel said after crossing the finish line. “It was like my body was on overdrive … I was like excited and all, but it took me several minutes after the race to process what had just happened.”


As for other Lady Warrior athletes, Hayden Coats came up short in a return trip to the regional. The sophomore qualified for the finals in the 100, but placed seventh overall with a time of 13.98. The sprinter also qualified for the 200 finals, placing eighth in the prelims before her time of 29.44 in the finals was good for seventh. In the high jump, Coats finished fourth by clearing 4-10. The sophomore’s mark was just three inches shy of the third and final qualifying spot.


Jade Ritcher placed sixth in the high jump, clearing 4-06. 


Sophomore Abbi Urbain rounded out the Warriors’ individual scoring by placing eighth in the pole vault, clearing 6-06. 


Utt and Knabel will head to the Evansville Central Regional on Tuesday. 


“These girls have set and met goals all season,” coach Adams said of Utt and Knabel. “Now it’s time for them to adjust their goals one more time and see what happens at the regional.”


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