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Bussabarger scores in high jump, places eighth at state

Corydon’s Meghan Bussabarger had a solid day Saturday afternoon at the IHSAA Girls State Track and Field finals on the Indiana University track, finishing in the top nine in the high jump with an eighth place finish.
Meanwhile, runners from Crawford County and Corydon’s Gretchen Zimmerman found Saturday very tough, having to deal with both weather extremes and tough competition.
Zimmerman and Bussabarger took the stage first in the long jump and high jump respectively.
While waiting for her turn to jump in the third flight, Zimmerman had to watch several good jumpers, including event winner Erynn Young of Muncie Central who flew to a distance of 18 feet, 11 inches. When asked if watching those jumpers was intimidating, the Corydon junior said it was just the opposite.
‘It was more entertaining,’ Zimmerman said. ‘It’s not an intimidating thing. When I’m good enough to do that then it will be intimidating next year.’
Zimmerman got two good jumps in her round, the first at 15-6 3/4 and the third at 15-4 3/4.
‘It wasn’t a very good day,’ said the Corydon junior. ‘I wasn’t really as nervous as I thought I’d be. I actually wasn’t nervous at all so competing in it was like watching it. I was watching the girls go in front of me and it’s like sitting back and being a spectator to all the other girl long jumpers. You’re like, ‘Wow, there goes a girl that just jumped 18-11. I’m never going to do that. Not this time.’ ‘
Zimmerman’s better distance was good enough for the 23rd position.
‘There’s a lot of good girls out there,’ said Zimmerman. ‘I can do this just as good as they can so I’m going to come out next year and get it. It was what I expected. I’ve seen it. I’ve been to it.’
‘You’ve always got to step up your game at state,’ said Corydon girls coach Kyle Jones. ‘Nerves come in and Gretchen’s never run on this track. She stepped on it Thursday in practice. That’s with no one here and no one in the stands. The PA announcer is not announcing. You’ve got all the officials around the pit and the board and that kind of plays in.
‘It’s a lot of pressure. She felt it even at sectional with a lot of the photographers and the people standing around the pit. It’s something she’ll learn. I’m sure she’s ready for next year. Over the summer we can work and continue to work on fundamentals through the fall and the winter. Basketball will keep her in shape. I think she’ll go into next season knowing what she needs to do. If she makes it to the state again she knows what to expect.’
In the high jump Meghan Bussabarger first had to wait for nine other jumpers before taking her first turn at the opening height of 5-2. The Corydon sophomore had little trouble with that then sat down next to Orleans jumper Jessica Smith, another qualifier from the Bedford regional meet. Bussabarger and Smith both said having somebody there they knew and could joke around with took away much of the pressure the state meet puts on a competitor.
‘It helps a lot when you’ve got somebody from regional to talk to,’ Bussabarger said. ‘It’s better than being like, ‘I don’t know anybody. I’m nervous.’ It was nice to have a friend and she’s a good high jumper too.’
‘You don’t just sit there staring at the bar and get all tightened up,’ Smith said. ‘It’s great to have people to talk to and laugh with. It helps relax you and get ready for the next jump.’
It took both jumpers two chances to get over the 5-4 height on their next attempts. Twelve jumpers were left as the bar was raised to 5-5. Both Bussabarger and Smith missed on their first attempts there but then successfully cleared the bar on their second tries, Bussabarger coming up with both fists clinched and ready to go again.
‘I was happy,’ said the Corydon jumper. ‘I beat the (school) record (of 5-4 3/4). I’ve been trying all season. This is a good place to beat the record too. Where else would you want to be but state?’
Smith also cleared the height on her second attempt. Both then had to wait for more than an hour as other jumpers went to run other events. When the bar went to 5-6 Bussabarger missed on all three attempts but her previous height was good enough for 8th place. Smith, meanwhile, used her third attempt to clear the bar giving herself, Orleans, and the Patoka Conference a third place finish.
Bussabarger said the back of her leg got sore just as she began her attempts at the 5-6 height.
‘It felt like it was starting to cramp up,’ she said. ‘It probably didn’t affect my jump a lot but maybe a little. It distracted me. The last jump (at 5-6) I thought I had it. I was up in the air and was like, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ but I guess I just forgot my legs.’
Jones said his jumper’s nerve level went up during the hour long wait.
‘Any wait in any event you start thinking about it and you start running it through your mind,’ said Jones. ‘You psyche yourself out. It was just a little too long of wait for her. It got her out of her rhythm.’
Crawford’s first turn on the track came in the first running event, the 3200 meter relay, with an air temperature near 90 degrees and a track temperature of over 100. The Lady Pack got behind early during Ashlee Satterfield’s leg, the heat obviously taking its toll. Renee Darland’s second leg was a slightly quicker but the Lady Pack were a 14 second underdog to its closest competitor.
Crawford was thinking more of another school record than the competition and Morgan Kenner pusher her third leg to try to gain three more seconds on her time at the Bedford regional. Team anchor, Lauren Schaftlein, also tried to make up some time but the Lady Pack came up short of their goal, finishing in a time of 10:26.57.
‘(Satterfield’s) just a freshman, being here her first year,’ said Kenner. ‘She’s done good for us all season though. I think we were all kind of out of it today. It was no one person’s fault. We just didn’t have our best time. I don’t know what’s been the factor. It’s hot but it’s been hot at sectional and regional. It shouldn’t have played that big of factor. It’s our first year but we’ll be back here next year.’
Later in the meet following the 1600 meter run, a heavy thunderstorm forced a 3-hour lightning delay. The meet later resumed for one heat of the 400 meter relay but then was delayed nearly another hour after a single lightning bolt hit the ground right across the street from the track.
Crawford’s Lauren Schaftlein had to wait for the delay to for her turn in the 800 meter run. The Crawford junior said she spent her time doing vocals during the delay.
‘I was over there with my friends singing songs,’ said Schaftlein, admitting one of the songs being ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb.’ ‘We were being silly…It’s nice to laugh. It takes a lot of pressure off.’
Schaftlein came up short to lower her own school record but still ran a respectable 2:26.50 for the race.
‘I wasn’t nervous at all and that might have had something to do with it too,’ said the Crawford junior. ‘We’re very happy to be here. A lot of schools can’t say they’ve been to state before. For Crawford County to get to state is pretty amazing and we’re all excited about this, in two events. Some of these schools can’t say that and we’re all very proud.’