|Panthers Score 81 In Omaha; Roll To 2nd Team Championship|
|Written by thenebraskasigna|
|Wednesday, 23 May 2012 14:04|
By GREG SCELLIN, Signal Editor
It's hard to think that setting a new Class C girls' team scoring record could be a disappointing thing, but before the last event at this year's NSAA State Track & Field Championships, a few Fillmore Central athletes' heads were dragging a bit around Burke Stadium in Omaha.
After all, FC was unable to capture wins in several events where the Panthers were leaders in the state rankings or had the best times in the preliminaries. But, they still piled up the points in all these events in Omaha. In fact, FC scored points in 10 events at the State Meet.
And when 1,600-meter relay anchor Lindsey Maloley hit the line well in front on Saturday afternoon, it was time for the Panthers to celebrate a team championship. And an ultra-impressive defense of its State Championship in Class B last year, putting up 81 points on the new jumbotron at Omaha Burke Stadium.
"We had a target on our back all year," FC coach Nancy Kindig-Malone said. "When we knew we were moving down to Class C this year, we weren't excited either way because we knew there are quality athletes in this level too. What I did tell the girls is take care of your business down here and we're coming to Omaha to win.
"I can't even begin to tell you about the quality of this group of girls. We knew that four years ago. We knew they had tremendous potential if we could avoid injury, animosity in the group, families moving out of the district... The unity of this group was phenomenal. Scoring in 10 of the 11 events we qualified in down here... I'm not sure when or if we'll ever have another group of girls like this."
FC continued its dominance in the relay events—winning two in Omaha and taking second in the other. Maloley teamed up with Maggie Malone, Christa Scott and Heather Broman on the winning 1,600-meter relay team. Scott and Broman teamed up with Nicole Beam and Quinn Wragge to win a second gold medal in the 3,200-meter relay (9:51.39). The Panther 400-meter relay team was a close second in Omaha with Scott, Maloley, Macy Jones and Audrey Malone combining to run the event in 50.896 seconds.
A nagging quad injury could have factored into M. Malone not being able to defend her triple jump title at State on Saturday morning, but the University of Nebraska track recruit sailed to an All-Class gold in the long jump on Friday afternoon covering 18-feet, 11.5 inches in Omaha. Malone has been the State runner-up in the event for the past three years. She still finished a strong third in the triple jump (first in the event in 2010 and 2011) with a jump of 36-6. The three-sport standout picked up her fourth State medal finishing fifth in the 200-meter dash.
But, running a leg in the Panthers' golden 1,600-meter relay was the icing on the cake for Malone.
"That's the way to end it," Maggie said. "I would take a four by four gold medal over a triple jump gold any day because I get to share it with my teammates. I'm going to miss every one of them so much. They've been such a great support system for me. And, I promise I'll come back and continue to support them as much as possible.
"I didn't jump well today (Saturday), but I'm going to be good. You have to take what God has given you and appreciate it."
Audrey Malone finished fourth in the long jump (17-8.25) and took third in the 100-meter hurdles. Maloley placed eighth in the 200-meter dash and took third in the 400-meter dash in Omaha—an event the Panther junior dominated all season and cruised to the fastest time in the preliminaries on Friday. Jones, who hit the medal podium late Saturday afternoon in a walking boot, placed second in the pole vault in Omaha despite not losing a competition all season long. And, despite only being a freshman, Wragge placed third in the 800-meter run. A finish she will undoubtedly improve on in the coming years.
"The 1,600 (relay) was really a redeeming race for everyone," Kindig-Malone said. "It was our best time this year and the best all of them had run. But, we did good in so many events—our best in the long jump, 800... The kids just did awesome.
"I think these girls are just such competitors that the points don't matter that much. Their expectations for themselves were higher than what they were achieving. At this level, they just know they have more to give and want to win every event so bad. But, really it's hard to be disappointed with second or third. All the points add up."
Kindig-Malone said M. Malone, Broman and Beam will be sorely missed. Haley Norvell, also a senior, participated in the long jump at State but failed to make finals. She mentioned the leadership all four provided the team and how unselfish they had been through their track careers.
And, still, the cupboard is certainly not bare with Scott, Maloley, Jones and A. Malone returning next season. Wragge will be moving out of the FC School District with her family this summer.
"We'll regroup with the kids we have and go on," Kindig-Malone said. "We have some plans... We'll find out what we need to do for next year."
Kearney Catholic was a distant second to the Panthers in Omaha. This year's back-to-back team championship is nothing new to the former Geneva School District, as the Wildcats were Class C State Champions in 1983 and 1984. GHS was also team champions in 1995.