Another spring, another strong season.
Cathedral High School girls track and field, one year after the most successful season in program history, followed that with more historical success in 2022.
“It was a fun year,” Irish girls track and field coach John O’Hara said in mid-May. “It’s always good to have numbers and it’s been a very enjoyable group. We’re not at the most elite level in every category, but in every event, we had a chance to get somebody to state, which is really fun.”
With senior Reese Sanders again one of the state’s top athletes, the Irish – the 2021 Indiana High School Athletic Association state champions – won the 2022 City Championship. They followed that with a fourth-place finish at the Section 19 meet at Lawrence Central and a second-place finish at the Region 5 meet at Ben Davis.
Sanders was among six Cathedral girls track athletes who qualified for the ’22 state meet. Junior Kailee Swart qualified in the pole vault, with junior Karsyn Kramer qualifying in the long jump and the 4x400 relay team – senior Milani Kimble, junior Sidney Sanders, Reese Sanders and freshman Kate Kubacki – also qualifying.
Reese Sanders, who will run collegiately at Notre Dame, qualified for state in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles after winning sectional and regional titles in both events.
“When it’s all said and done, Reese will be the most accomplished track and field athlete this school ever has seen,” O’Hara said. “It’s hard to put into words what she has meant to this program – not only in the team element but just knowing what it looks like to be a student-athlete, to be a faith-filled leader, to be a confident professional at the ages of 14-18.
“That’s not an easy thing to do and to handle all the press – it doesn’t get much better than that.”
O’Hara said in a very real sense the Irish’s success the past two seasons was built on a program that has developed and improved over the last half decade.
“When Reese was a freshman, she was able to learn from a few other groups of girls who were sophomores, juniors and seniors who were perennial state qualifiers in the sprints and relays,” O’Hara said. “When she came in, she had seen some high-level people before her. That was kind of the beginning of this trend where it was, ‘Hey, can we not just have 25 girls and kind of build a larger program and try to make it more well-rounded?’
“I think we’re in that spot right now.”
Swart, a junior, broke the city record in the pole vault and entered the postseason ranked second in the state. Kimble continued to be a critical part of the team, again turning in key performances on the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
“She’s done a little bit of everything and she’s also a senior we’ll be sad to see go,” O’Hara said of Kimble.
The Irish finished fourth in the sectional with 83 points behind sectional champion North Central (141), Brebeuf Jesuit (88.5) and Bishop Chatard (84.5). Sectional champions included Sanders in the 100-meter (14.55 seconds) and 300-meter hurdles (43.68); the 4x400 relay team of (3:59.53) Sidney Sanders, Kubacki, Kimble and Reese Sanders; and Swart in the pole vault (12-feet, four inches).
“It’s always tough to see a senior class go,” O’Hara said. “We have some great seniors with Reese being the key leader. But there are other contributors who are seniors and we got some new athletes come out for the first time as seniors. That was cool. You don’t see that too often.”
Also qualifying for regionals with sectional performances: Junior Grace Bragg (800, fifth in sectional, 2:29.21), sophomore Ainsley Danilson (pole vault, fifth, 9-06), sophomore Nichole Mayo (100 hurdles, sixth, 16.66), Kramer (long jump, fourth, 16-06) and freshman Ellie Barnes (long jump, sixth, 16-01½). The girls 4x100 relay team (Kimble, Sidney Sanders, Kubacki, freshman Annah Wasiak) qualified for regionals with a fifth-place sectional finish in 50.96 and the 4x800 team (junior Dearbhla Delaney, junior Brooke Wojcieszek, junior Madeline Taylor, Bragg) qualified for regionals with a third-place sectional finish in 10:15.62.
Sanders won the regional title in the 100 hurdles with a time of 14.91 and won the 300 hurdles in 43.53. Swart won the regional pole vault with a vault of 12-06.00 and Kramer finished third at regionals with a long jump of 16-09.00.
The 4x400 advanced to state with a third-place regional finish in 3:58.00, with the Irish finishing second as a team with 52.5 points behind North Central (101).
“I was very pleased,” O’Hara said. “Brebeuf and Chatard have done a good job over the last 10 years kind of being the marquis schools for spring sports for girls. We’re still building to that over the course of the last few years. If you can get in that range of 50 athletes, you might be able to build something pretty nice.
“Kids are starting to see the success and the fun and the family atmosphere. We can continue to be a really deep team.”
For updates on the Irish in the postseason, please visit gocathedral.com.