Stookey's homecoming highlights strong Lapel showing

Apr. 18—ELWOOD — Lapel football coach Tim Miller has added "track-and-field coach" to his resume as he and girls soccer coach Chad Soden have been guiding the Bulldog spring athletes the last two years.

He concedes, however, what he is really doing is recruiting many athletes from the halls at Lapel to add track to their own resumes as well. The goal is to surround the team's deep and talented corps of distance runners, improving Lapel's chances of scoring well.

That strategy has been working well for Miller and Soden, as the Bulldogs performed well as a unit at the Madison County meet and, in the middle of a busy week, dominated a four-team meet at Elwood on Thursday, defeating Taylor by 74 points on the boys' side and the host Panthers by 58 in the girls' meet.

"We have our distance runners, and those are our track kids, then we get a bunch of other athletes out to fill in the other events. That's pretty much how it works," Miller said. "Nothing but respect for our distance kids. They grind harder than the rest of us. That's for sure."

Having a healthy and dynamic sprinter on the girls' side has not hurt one bit, either.

In something of a homecoming for the former Elwood Middle School student, Lapel senior Regan Stookey built off her long-awaited Madison County championship in the 100 meters to win three events Thursday. She also won the 200 and ran the anchor leg of the winning 400 relay team.

Stookey has always shown flashes of brilliance when healthy but is enjoying a new level of success as a senior after two seasons of being slowed by injuries.

That early success has bred confidence as she shed .65 off her rain-slowed time at county for a 13.04 in the 100 Thursday.

"It felt great. I wasn't expecting it because I felt kind of tight," Stookey said of her county title. "But that adrenaline kicked in, and I thought, 'I'm in first!' Finally, after four years and I'm senior and it's coming to an end.

"I'm feeling good. I haven't had any injuries, thank God. I hope it stays that way, but so far so good. It feels like I'm improving each time out."

"It's been great. I'm really happy for her to win county," Miller said. "She keeps getting better with each meet."

It was a dominating effort from the Bulldogs all the way around. They won 13 of the 15 events on the boys' side while taking 12 of 15 on the girls' side. The team's depth led to a sweep of all relay races and the distance runners — despite missing key runners Cameron Smith and Jack Combs — took care of business as well.

Simon Nickelson won the 1,600 and 3,200, and Braxton Burress — runner-up to Nickelson in the 1,600 — won the 800 for the boys while Hannah Combs took first in the girls' 1,600 and 3,200 and Kaylyn McMillian won the 800.

A trio of Lapel runners took the sprints — Logan White (100), Elijah Stires (400) and Nick Witte (200) — while Landan White earned a hurdles split for the Bulldogs, taking the 300 while Kaci McCray won the 110 for the host Panthers, the lone victory for the Elwood boys.

Britton Dillon of Taylor won the boys' discus — the only win overall for the Titans — while Lapel took the remainder of the field events. J.J. Baxter won the shot put, while Stires and Landan White added wins in the long jump and high jump, respectively.

Not to be outdone on the girls' side, multi-sport athlete Elizabeth Stern won a pair of events as she was first in the 300 hurdles and the shot put. Leila Wilson added the 400, and AnnaLee Stow took the high jump to round out the night of first-place finishes for the Bulldogs.

Overall, the Lapel boys scored 119 points followed by Taylor (45), Elwood (29), and Liberty Christian (12). The Bulldogs tallied 106 points in the girls' meet, with Elwood's 58 points in second followed by Taylor with 21 and LC with 10.

"I thought we did pretty well," Miller said. "To be honest, it's kind of an odd week, and tomorrow will be our third meet. Other than (Burress) and a couple others, we limited some events, but we did well overall."

Elwood's Savannah Garcia repeated her county title by taking the 100 hurdles and added a first-place 14-foot-9 distance in the long jump.

Prior to the season, Garcia was very excited about her prospects this spring, and the season to-date has done little to disappoint.

"For me, personally, I've been achieving my goals, and Madison County proved it being first and the champ overall," she said. "But, honestly, I think our team has been doing great overall, and they've been getting a lot of PRs."

Zoie Horton added a third Panthers' victory as she took the discus title at 70-3.

Liberty Christian's night was highlighted by a pair of runner-up finishes by freshman Tywaine Fuller in the 100 and 200. A state qualifier in middle school, this was his first high school meet, and he is already looking forward to being ready for the postseason.

Gabrielle Burks added a third-place in the 100 and was runner-up in the 200 for the LC girls.

Contact Rob Hunt at or 765-640-4886.