The Top 5 Athletes To Watch At The IHSAA State Championships

* Gretchen Farley and Kole Mathison are two of the state's best distance runners in history

Photo Credit: Owen Fink/MileSplit

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The IHSAA State Championships will take place in Bloomington, Indiana this weekend and it will be the final stretch of the regular season for athletes in the state. 

The boys will compete on Friday and the ladies will earn their crowns on Saturday at the Haugh Track and Field Complex at Indiana University.

The state not only has elite talent in the distance events this year, but also in the field and in the sprints. During this jammed-pack weekend, we took a deeper dive into the top athletes to watch ahead of the state championships.

Check out the top five athletes to watch at the IHSAA State Championships below.

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* Gretchen Farley won the IHSAA Regional 5 Meet in the 800m

Photo Credit: Owen Fink/MileSplit

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In her final season with Park Tudor, Gretchen Farley is on the hunt for her first IHSAA state title. This will mark the third straight season Farley has ended her season at the state championships. 

The Notre Dame recruit will enter the 800m field in Bloomington as the top returner and the No. 1 seed. At the IHSAA Regional 5 Meet, she posted a lifetime best of 2:05.88 to win the title. It also was a new Indiana No. 1 and is currently ranked U.S. No. 5 in the nation.

Her performance equals No. 2 all-time in Indiana history behind Addy Wiley's 2:04.00 from the NSAF Outdoor Nationals in 2022. 

The 800m is a sweet spot for the senior as she carries 4:48 1,600m strength and 56-flat 400m speed. To her advantage, no one has been able to take her down in the two-lap race. With this being her final time competing against the state competition, this is her final opportunity for her to grab the gold.

She has a strong chance of doing that. 

* Nicki Southerland is the fastest girl in the state this season in the 1,600m

Photo Credit: Owen Fink/MileSplit

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It's been a busy season for Delta's Nicki Southerland

It's not stopping anytime soon. 

The junior from Muncie is bookending her week after recent forays at the RunningLane Track Championships over the weekend. 

Southerland put together strong performances at IHSAA Regional 5 qualifier in the 800m and the 1,600m and then within five days, she was in Huntsville, Alabama competing at the RunningLane Track Championships in the 800m and mile. 

That didn't stop her from putting down some of the best times in the country.

At her regional qualifier, Southerland was the runner-up to Farley in the 800m with a personal best and No. 3 Indiana all-time performance of 2:06.12. In the 1,600m, she finished with a 4:50.97 performance.

Southerland was close to her personal best in the 800m at RunningLane when she finished second in 2:06.99. She earned the gold with a new lifetime best of 4:45.02 in the mile. 

It's a new week and now Southerland, who's the fastest girl in the state in the 1,600m with a 4:47.27 best, can be a contender for the 800m-1,600m double. Earlier this year, she was the runner up at the IHSAA State Cross Country Championships. 

* Kole Mathison en route to his regional title in the 3,200m

Photo Credit: Owen Fink/MileSplit

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It's been a somewhat quiet outdoor season for Kole Mathison, but the Carmel senior will bring the noise to his final IHSAA State Championships on Friday. 

The defending champion in the 1,600m and 3,200m will line up this weekend looking to earn two more state titles before heading to Colorado in the fall.

Last year was a memorable one as Mathison set a lifetime best of 4:04.82 in the 1,600m, which is No. 3 in Indiana history. It was his first state title. 

So far this season, the Champs Sports National Cross Country Championship winner has clocked bests of 4:12.99 and 8:56.38 in the 1,600m and 3,200m.

The biggest question for Mathison is how fast will he be as he toes the line at his final state championships. 

* Sophia Kennedy is one of the top contenders in the 1,600m and 3,200m this weekend

Photo Credit: Owen Fink/MileSplit

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One of the best runners in the state will contest for the 1,600m-3,200m double. 

Sophia Kennedy has already made history this season in the 3,200m. Not only is she currently the fastest girl in Indiana and is U.S. No. 13 with her personal best of 10:00.56 from the IHSAA Regional 5 Meet, but her performance holds as Indiana's No. 1 all-time mark in history.

She also doubled back to win the 1,600m in a season's best of 4:55.16. 

During cross country, she finished as the third-place finisher at the IHSAA State Cross Country Championships before she was seventh at Nike Cross Nationals. 

Kennedy is the top returner in the 3,200m as she was second overall with a 10:25.02 best. 

* At the IHSAA Regional 3 Meet, Bode Gilkerson clears the high jump to qualify for the state championships this weekend

Photo Credit: Owen Fink/MileSplit

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Bode Gilkerson of Plainfield has become one of the best high jumpers in Indiana.

The Purdue signee has cleared four marks at 6-7 before he cleared the No. 1 jump in the state at his sectional meet with a 7-0.25. His performance equals the fifth-best jump on Indiana's all-time high jump list. 

At his regional meet, Gilkerson cleared 7-0 for the fourth time in his high school career. 

In 2022, the defending IHSAA high jump champion became the bronze medalist at adidas Outdoor Nationals with a 6-4.75 jump.