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Ruffner is SCC high jump champ

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By Andrew Harner

CARLINVILLE – Junior Sierah Ruffner was the lone champion for Vandalia at Tuesday’s South Central Conference girls track meet, but first-year Gena Nance was left satisfied by a solid team-effort that earned the Lady Vandals sixth place.

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Ruffner placed first in the high jump, clearing 5 feet on her third attempt at that height. She was assured of first place after clearing 4 feet, 10 inches, however, because neither of the two individuals who tied for second place could clear that height.

One of them, Vandalia freshman Johanna Walton, helped the Lady Vandals earn valuable team points.
Freshman Ally Sasse placed second in the 200-meter dash finals, with a time of 0:28.23. All three of them receive all-conference honors.

“I was so impressed with the girls who stepped up today,” Nance said. “There’s so many things today that make me smile.”

And those ranged all the way from the beginning to the end.

In the day’s final event, the 4X400-meter relay, Vandalia had to shuffle its order due to a minor ankle injury to Walton.

Sophomore Randi Evans, who wasn’t listed as alternate and hadn’t run a 400 in a meet since the eighth-grade, stepped in and had the best split (1:09) to help the relay team to a fifth-place finish.

“That was a great team-effort and a great time,” Nance said.

The short sprint relay teams continued to impress, with each the 4X100-meter and 4X200-meter relay teams placing fourth in very strong times.

In the 4X1, freshman Jessica Booker, Ruffner, Evans and Sasse ran a season-best 0:55.86, and in the 4X2, the same four had a 1:59.76.

“Awesome,” Nance simply said. “That was best the 4X1 time we have had. Those girls all ran such good times.”

Those two relays have progressively gotten better as the year has gone along, and Nance credited that to changing the running order to maximize each individual’s specific talents and to the handoffs greatly improving throughout the season.

Also placing at conference were the 4X800-meter relay team of Kendall Leander, Makenzie Roberts, Nicole Wells and Brittany Cook, which placed fifth in 12:31.9.

Junior Austyn Krueger had a pair of sixth-place finishes, throwing the shot 25 feet, 9 ½ inches, and passing a runner in the final 25 meters of the 800-meter run, which she finished in 2:42.5.

Greenville won the team championship, with 116 points. Vandalia had 39 points.

The girls will travel to Litchfield on Saturday for the freshman/sophomore conference meet as the final preparation for the May 11 sectional at Newton.

“I still have a lot of things to think about,” Nance said of the sectional. “There may be some things that are changing, but I have seen a lot of good things.”