Byrd still highly motivated

She knows that her basketball career won’t last forever and that the end is near, but that hasn’t kept North Montgomery graduate Kelsi Byrd from staying motivated throughout her first three years as a basketball player for IUPUI.

After being a star and all-conference player for the Chargers, Byrd knew that playing at the highest level collegiately would come with a whole knew territory. 

“Knowing that I was going to be playing with and against some of the best basketball players in the Midwest, I knew that things would be much different,” Byrd said. 

She noted that she was aware that her days of being the absolute star were over as she headed to the next level, but quickly accepted it.

“I love taking a new challenge and doing everything I can to be an important puzzle piece for the team,” she said.

In her freshmen and sophomore seasons Byrd played in nearly every game for the Jaguars including 26 starts in her sophomore campaign and averaged over six points a game. As IUPUI continued to build on their recent success it looked as if Byrd would become a centerpiece in their plans for her last two seasons.

However, in 2015-16 Byrd saw her playing time diminish. She still played in 30 games, and average nearly 20 minutes per game, but only attempted 107 shots the entire season and didn’t make a single start.

“It was tough for me, but it taught me so much in a quiet way that I’m actually glad that I experienced it,” she said. “It was like an obstacle and I was being tested everyday and you learn how to look at things in a positive way and become a better person and think more clearly in the process.”

Like any other student athlete, Byrd struggles to keep up as the academics continue to get harder. The exercise science major noted that every year the schoolwork gets more challenging.

“The biggest challenge is that the classes get harder and require more time and effort, but at the same time you have to continue to devote the same amount of time for basketball as well,” she said.

Byrd said that playing at the Division I level has been nothing more than a humbling experience and that she’s not discouraged heading into her senior season.

“I’m going to just keep doing what I’ve always done and that’s giving 110% every day and never getting out worked on the floor because that’s who I am and how I was raised by my amazing parents,” she said. “I know that I won’t be able to play basketball forever so I will continue to pour my heart and soul into this game as I have my whole life.”

Tolin named Derby Queen runner-up

Montgomery County’s own Mallory Tolin was crowned first runner-up in the first-ever Derby Queen Pageant on July 16. 

Originally there were 27 applicants for the pageant, but 16 were eliminated leaving only 11 young women to participate in the actual judging of the pageant, which took place June 30. The contest had three main areas — interview, swimsuit and formal gown with an onstage question.

The interview portion was considered most important and counted for 50 percent of the final score. Five finalists were selected, including the 22-year-old Tolin. Each finalist was given $650 to shop and prepare for the final night when the queen and court would be announced during the 22nd Running of the Grade II Indiana Derby. 

While she was preparing, Tolin’s family provided moral support and even lent her things for the pageant. Tolin called special attention to her mother, Connie, and her friend, Tori Mills, for helping her shop and make decisions.

“Honestly, pageants are just really fun to me,” she said. “I love the opportunity to get to meet girls and make connection with judges and everyone involved.”  

The Derby Queen contest was the second pageant Tolin took part in. In 2012, she was selected as Montgomery County’s winner for the Distinguished Young Woman pageant, a national scholarship program for women. She hopes to compete in the All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen Contest and even plans to return to the Indiana Derby Pageant next year.

Tolin advises all girls who participate or might consider participating in a Derby Queen Contest to simply enjoy themselves.

“It’s not often you get to dress up like that, meet new people, and be surrounded by people you love who are there to support you,” she said. “Indiana Grand does a phenomenal job making everything to do with the Indiana Derby Pageant truly enjoyable and a great experience. I would encourage girls to not stress, rather take the time to enjoy what you’re doing in this pageant.”

Tolin is currently enrolled in graduate school at Butler University. She is working to become a physician assistant and plans to get into a medical school in the future. At Butler, she was recently named one of the university’s Top 100 Outstanding Students. She hopes one day to combine her three passions of serving the Lord, medicine and horses by opening a Christ-centered therapeutic riding center using retired barrel and race horses.

City street deptartment wins new event

A friendly battle between the Crawfordsville Street Department and the Montgomery County Highway is brewing. 

Gary Booth invited each department to participate in the Fourth Annual Excavator Rodeo at the 2016 Montgomery County Fair. 

Four city employees, Doug Edwards, Troy Payne, Danny Harwood and Bill Hutchison, formed a team and were crowned team champions. One county highway employee participated in the event.

“It was a blast being in the excavator competition,” Edwards said. “I think we did pretty good considering we walked into it blind. With the large crowd it was a whole lot of fun. We are hoping more guys from the county will show up next year because it could become a pretty fun thing to do each year.”

Every year since its inception, Booth has added to the event. This year he added an exhibition by 4-H’ers and the governmental department contests.

“The reason we do this is to bring more people to the fair,” Booth said. “Everyone has a lot of fun and this year we had a record number of attempts by contestants. We had a standing room only crowd at Saturday’s championship.”

The open class champion was Emmanuel Albrook, who overtook the previous two-time champion Glen Price, who dropped to third place, in the third round. Both men work for Price Excavation. Jared Brenda of Hay-Bush Mechanical placed second by finishing the course only two seconds faster than Price.

Albrook won $500 as the champion.

Bart Maxwell of Maxwell Farm Drainage recorded the fastest time in the group contest.

The 4-H exhibition youth competing were Nickola Brann, Braden Smith, Chloe Maxwell and Cole Price, who won the youth prize.

Dreams Realized

For 70 years John Norman has been coming to the Montgomery County 4-H Fair as an exhibitor, father and grand-father always searching for a swine grand championship. Finally, on Wednesday, the streak was ended on Wednesday when his grandson Drew Norman claimed the Grand Champion Barrow. The elderly Norman was showing off his pride in the swine barn after the show.

“That was exciting,” John said. “That is the first championship our family has won. We have been waiting a long time and seeing my grandson get the first one was a big deal for us.”

Drew was just as excited as his grandfather. But, he never expected his heavyweight Crossbred Barrow to claim the top prize until he noticed something during the show.

“Honestly, I thought I had zero chance of winning at this fair,” Drew said. “I thought he was the worst of my pigs because he is so wide. But, as the day went on I noticed the judge was picking wider hogs. The more I watched the show the more I realized I had a chance with the judge.”

Drew, who will be a sixth-grader at Northridge Middle School this year, said his 270 pound barrow fit the bill in the eyes of the judge.

“I was shocked when he came over to shake my hand as the champion although I noticed he kept looking at me a lot,” Drew said. 

The champion barrow will not be going to the State Fair, but was sold at Thursday’s auction. Drew, who only participates in swine projects, was predicting the auction would not be easy for him.

“I think the auction is going to be emotional for me,” Drew said. “It might not be easy.”

Drew is the son of Shelle and Jeff Norman and a member of the Anti-Cants 4-H Club. He thanked parents and sister, Macee, for helping and supporting him in 4-H.

The grand champion gilt was shown by 11-year-old Jordan Gilstrap. In just her third year to participate in 4-H, Gilstrap saw an accumulation of hard work pay off at Wednesday’ swine show. 

“I work walk our pigs about 20 minutes every day before the fair,” Gilstrap said. “My brother and I work hard. This was the seventh show I have been to with my pig this season. We do this as a family.”

Gilstrap, who also shows sheep at the fair, is a first time champion. said she believed before the competition her Heavyweight Crossbred Gilt champion had a chance to win.

When not showing pigs, Gilstrap keeps busy playing volleyball and basketball for New Market Elementary. She is the daughter of Jeff and Janna Gilstrap and attends New Market Elementary while being a member of the Can-Do-Crew 4-H Club.

Gilstrap plans on showing the champion at the Indiana State Fair. She said she likes here chances at the state fair because her animal’s breed is one of the most popular breeds in the Midwest. 

After winning the championship Gilstrap thanked her parents and brother, Ty Gilstrap who works and shows hogs alongside his sister.

The reserve grand champion gilt was shown by Cody Meadows. The reserve grand champion barrow title went to Ellie Sennett’s lightweight crossbred hog.

Morrison elected by caucus

Greg Morrison was elected to the Montgomery County Council by a Republican caucus Thursday.

Morrison, who was one of three Republicans to win their party’s nomination for the three at large council seats in the May primary, will fill the remainder of Tom Utley’s term. Utley resigned from the council on June 23 to become the executive director for both the Crawfordsville/Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce and Indiana West Advantage Inc.

Morrison won the caucus vote, edging Gary Booth 13-12. In addition to being a candidate for the vacant seat, Booth also serves as a precinct committeeman who had a vote.

Before the precinct committeemen voted, Booth and Morrison were given a chance to address the caucus.

Morrison told the caucus that he wanted to move the county forward. He pointed out that both he and Booth are candidates for the at large council seats in November. Both of them, along with Terry Hockersmith were set to take seats on the council in January. He said that when Utley resigned his seat, it gave two of them a chance to get started early.

Booth took a different approach in speaking to the caucus. He pointed out that normally a caucus would be between people the voters had not had a chance to vote on. He said that he was the only candidate who should be considered for the vacant seat because he had more votes than anyone — with the exception of Hockersmith, who is currently a Montgomery County Commissioner.

“We had an election in May of this year,” Booth said. “The people spoke. When I heard that Tom Utley had resigned I didn’t tarry; I (filed for the seat) as quick as I could. I felt obligated. I said I would serve the people.”

Booth went on to say that the voters already decided how the caucus vote should go.

“The only vote tonight that is not a divisive vote is to vote like the people voted,” Booth said. “And I garnered more votes, with the exception of Terry Hockersmith, in the May election. So we are either going to do what the people asked us to do or we are going to make some excuses. I hope you follow the people’s request.”

After the vote Morrison said that he did not agree with Booth’s take on the caucus. He said that a vote for him was not a vote for divisiveness in the party. 

“It was a win-win situation for the council going in,” he said. “Both of us wanted the job.

“I did not see it that way,” Morrison said. “I did not feel that there was division in the party. There was an opportunity that arose for a spot that became available. Both of us would be (on the council) in January. I didn’t see me running against him, or both of us filing for this position as a division of the party. It was just two people who wanted the same position. In the end I look forward to taking that position.”

Morrison takes office immediately. He took his oath of office shortly after the caucus, being sworn-in by Montgomery County Clerk Jennifer Bentley.