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Prep track and field: Fairfield girls, VBC boys compete at Central Indoor

Mar. 20—PELLA — They were good in the hurdles. They were good in the relays.

The only thing the Fairfield High School girls track and field team didn't get a chance to test out in their final indoor meet of the season was how good they could be in the one race that combines both events. The Trojans finished the indoor season scoring a trio of top-10 finishes at the Central College High School girls meet on Saturday.

Teammates Lilly Bergren and Maya Lane both made their way into the 60-meter hurdle finals after putting up two of the top-10 times in the 11-heat preliminary races. Both Bergren and Lane then led off Fairfield's 4x200 relay effort, winning fourth heat of the race on the way to an overall 10th-place finish in 1:58.13.

For Bergren and Lane, putting together their skills as both hurdlers and relay runners is what the two are most excited about heading into the track and field season. The two are hoping Fairfield can produce special results in the shuttle hurdle relay, a race that has produced special results in recent seasons for the Trojan girls.

"It's really special for us going into this year because we didn't lose anybody off that team from last year," Lane said. "I'm a senior. Lilly's a junior and we've got some other girls that are sophomores, so it feels like we're still building."

Lane, Bergren, Hayley Reinier and Isabel McCready qualified for state together in the 3A girls shuttle hurdle, placing 23rd overall in 1:12.53. Lane was the only runner that had returned to compete in that event last year after being part of Fairfield's third-place finish at state in the same event in 2022 with Kelsey Pacha, Anna Dunlap and Mallory Lyon posting a time of 1:06.23 in the finals.

"We'll get even better last year than how we finished last year with everyone back this year," Lane said. "It's definitely the most fun we have in any event. We push each other. There's just something about that race that's special to us."

Bergren and Lane pushed each other into the 60-meter hurdle finals at the Central College Indoor for the second straight year. After finishing seventh in qualifying in 10.27 seconds, Bergren finished eighth in the finals on Saturday lowering her time down to 10.12 while Lane finished 12th in 10.41.

"Going into the finals, being able to shave some time off really felt good," Bergren said. "I really wanted to get out fast in that final race. I'm really happy with how I performed.

"That 4x200 could also be a pretty special race for us. We've run it the last two meets. I feel like we have the athletes to be very good at it. We've got a lot of depth with our 200 runners this year. We have a few girls we can switch in and out. We just need to keep working at it, but I think we can come a long way in that race this year."

Carley Seeley also brought home a top-10 finish at Central on Saturday, finishing 10th in the 3,000-meter run in 12:12.61. The Fairfield senior is hoping to build off a successful final high school cross-country season that saw Seeley finally advance to run at state this past fall.

"With track, there's something so different than there is with cross-country," Seeley said. "I feel like it's more individualized. There's a lot more splits that I have to focus on. It's more difficult in track to run my own race, but that's what is encouraging me. I feel like I've been able to go into the season with a lot of confidence. I'm excited to see if I can break some personal records that I set during my freshman year.

"I actually went out too fast in this race. I know going forward that I need to focus on running slower in the first half and faster in the second half. That's what has been most successful for me."

The Van Buren County Warriors took part in the boys portion of the Central College Indoor on Friday. Lincoln Bainbridge, coming off a top-20 finish at state to close out his freshman season last spring, went the distance to pick up a win in the 3,200-meter run in 10:26.94 edging out Carlisle senior Brody Roth at the tape by less than a quarter of a second.

Bainbridge and Warrior teammate Korbin Camp both secured top-10 finishes in the 800-meter run on Friday with Bainbridge placing fifth in 2:11.09 while Camp finished seventh in 2:14.46. Tyler Stoltz, coming off a top-10 finish at last year's state meet finishing tied for seventh in the 2A boys high jump, placed fifth in the same event on Friday crossing the bar at 6-0, just one inch off his state place-winning jump from last May.

Van Buren County also scored a third-place finish in the boys' 4x200 relay in 1:41.83 and a seventh-place finish in the 4x400 relay in 3:55.92. Kayden Simmons added a pair of top-10 runs for the Warrior boys, finishing eighth in the 60-meter hurdles in nine seconds flat and ninth in the 400-meter dash in 56.25.

"Starting from middle school, we have a lot of athletes that can run pretty fast in the hurdles," Simmons said. "We've placed very well in those events for several years."

Van Buren County was scheduled to open outdoor competition this week, but Monday's scheduled Columbus High School meet was called off due to the weather. The Warriors are scheduled to open the outdoor portion of the season on Monday at the Pekin Invitational while the Fairfield girls are set to head outdoors for the first time next Tuesday at the West Burlington Falcon Relays.

"The big key for us is that we're showing good effort. We're not going to have our best marks of the year yet, but we're looking for our girls to go out there and compete," Fairfield head girls track coach Jerrod Belzer said. "We're not perfect yet, but you don't expect that at this time of the year. I'm happy with where we're at."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.