By Josh Brown
TIPP CITY — With Saturday being the last race of his high school career, Tippecanoe’s Mitchell Poynter knows there’s no point in holding anything back.
“He’s ready to go,” Tippecanoe track and field coach Bob Crawford said. “He’s ready to drop some serious time and really challenge for that top spot.”
Poynter, a senior, will run in the 1,600 Saturday during the Division I portion of the state track meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, and he will be joined by a group of his teammates as the Red Devils’ girls 4×800 team will compete on Friday and Kaili Titley will run the 800 on Saturday.
For Poynter — who led the Red Devils to the school’s first team state championship in during cross country season as a junior and finished as the D-II state runner-up in the fall — was the regional runner-up in the 1,600, running a time of 4:18.01 and finishing just behind Beavercreek’s Benjamin Ewert’s 4:17.36. That 4:18.01 is the eighth-best regional time entering the race, but as a junior Poynter ran a 4:14.22 and finished third.
“Mitch has his head in the game,” Crawford said. “He’s been looking forward to this meet all year. We had him go down to a big, fast meet in Lousville and another one in Mason this year. We’ve been getting him high-speed competition all season long. He and (Troy’s) Stephen Jones have had great competition all year long when they’ve run against each other, too.
“Mitch has that senior confidence working for him right now. He has worked hard and has put in the miles. He’s ready to go.”
Meanwhile, the girls 4×800 team — comprised of three freshmen in Titley, Katie Taylor and Jillian Brown and a sophomore in Makenzie Dietz — will be competing in its first state track meet on Friday. After easily winning a district title, they were nipped by defending state champion Alter, 9:35.98 to 9:37.97.
And while, going by regional times, the Devils wouldn’t be on the podium, Crawford has complete confidence in them.
“It’s just a case where, every week, they’ve stepped up a little more because they’ve had to meet the challenge,” he said. “Coach Nick Culver has done a great job of preparing them for each race. They knew at district they weren’t going to win by 80 meters. They won by about 20. And at the regional, they only lost by about five meters.
“They’re young, and they’re hungry. They don’t know how good they are yet or what to expect, and I think they will rise to the occasion again. I think they’ll make a good run at the podium.”
During cross country season, Titley and Taylor helped the Devils finish as state runners-up. Titley will compete individually in the 800 Saturday after winning a regional championship in the event.
“She doesn’t run like a freshman. She’s not intimidated when she’s challenged,” Crawford said. “We’ve really been blessed this season by having a lot of young runners that have been making an impact.”
* Bulldogs’ Bobbitt
Back at State
WEST MILTON — Ever since her first trip to the state meet, Beyonce Bobbitt has been ready to get back.
Disappointment can be one heck of a motivational force.
“She can’t wait to get there, just to prove it to herself,” Milton-Union track and field coach Michael Meredith said. “She’s known for the past 12 months that she’d be back here. It’s like the whole season was just practice for this. She’d be the first to tell you that she kind of choked last year, and she is ready.”
After finishing 13th as a freshman in the discus, Bobbitt will return after finishing as the regional runner-up this past weekend, ready to erase the memories of last year’s competition and take the next step forward Friday at the Division II state track meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus. And to add to that, though, the Bulldog sophomore will also compete in the shot put on Saturday.
Bobbitt threw 112-04 in her first trip to state and did not reach the finals, but in this year’s regional she threw 131-3, second only to Brookville’s Allie Conroy’s 132-11. That regional throw would have been good for fifth in last season’s state competition, and Bobbitt is entering this year’s with the sixth-best throw.
“Her physical ability has greatly improved. She threw 144 at Covington earlier this year,” Meredith said. “She’d have the third-best throw in the state if they took the whole season.
“But it’s more mental for her right now. She’s ready for this. Her confidence is just ballooning right now, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.”
It’s not just the discus this season, though, as she qualified in the shot put with a throw of 38-1.5, the 12th-best throw in the competition.
“The shot, that’s just icing on the cake for her,” Meredith said. “The discus is her identity, but suddenly she just grasped the shot, too. Her confidence level as a thrower in general has grown. Up until three weeks ago, I didn’t think she was on the radar in the shot. But that’s just her. She’s a tremendous athlete.
“She’s looking at getting on the podium in the discus. In her heart, she wants to be top five. She’s only a sophomore, so she wants to get as high as she can early on. Eventually, she wants to win, and it’s been a natural progression for her so far.”
And she’s more than ready to take the next step.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.