Center Grove High School boys track coach Eric Moore sees some positive upgrades in depth in certain areas this season.
“We probably have more depth at different running events than we’ve ever had,” said Moore, whose teams have won three of the past four sectional titles. “The number one thing is we have a much better field event total than we’ve had, maybe since I’ve been here. I have two good high jumpers and a couple decent long jumpers.
“We have some guys in the shot put that can compete and score. And obviously we have (senior) Cameron Tidd in the discus, who is the defending state champion.”
Moore said the main sprinters are Jackson Hohlt, Zach Smith and Titus McCoy.
The Trojans did graduate Derek Grimmer, who finished fourth in the 200 meters at last year’s state meet.
Junior Russ Yeast, a transfer from Ohio, is expected to help in the sprints.
So is Grant Mason.
“He’s faster and stronger,” Moore said of Mason. “Logan Bontrager in the (3,200 relay) and 400 will be an outstanding runner, as well.”
Junior Christian Goines is a high-hurdler, high-jumper and long-jumper.
“Goines is probably the most improved track kid I’ve had in the years I’ve been here,” Moore said. “We have a top-notch pole vaulter in Josh Hall.”
Trevor Hohlt tore an ACL in his knee during the football season but has begun to run again.
“He would be one of the state’s top hurdlers, but instead we’re just hoping to get him back for the relays in the state tournament,” Moore said.
Center Grove finished second in the regional and fourth in the state meet last spring.
Freshman Jason Hodges, who won Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference Indoors in the 3,200, will be one of the top distance runners.
Junior Chris Jones in the 1,600 relay and the mile also will be a top distance competitor. Senior Riley Turk and Nathan Fill will help in the distance events.
“I don’t know if we have that classic state champion that we had except for Tidd as a thrower,” Moore said. “We should be able to compete in everything. In the MIC Indoors, we were in first place with two events to go and scratched in the throws and jumps. I think we ended up fourth.”
Derrick Ball in his first season as head coach.Two of the Lancers’ top returners are junior sprinter Cameron Moore and junior thrower Sean Bacha, Ball said.Top newcomers include senior Shane Smith and freshman sprinter Grant Godsey.
“Smith and Moore should do well for us in the short sprints and Godsey should do well for us in the 400,” said Ball, who took over as the school’s football coach in the fall. “Like any small school, we struggle with depth in events. We have good talent in the events that we have kids in, so will have the ability to score some points in meets this year.
“We have some talented sprinters and short distance runners this year, as well.”
Coach Mike Hall is eager to see how his team develops.“We have a very young team with several veterans from past season,” Hall saidThe top returning senior is Luke Tucker, whose best events are the 800 and 1,600 runs, as well as the distance relays.
Other returning distance lettermen are juniors Ross Ellis and Chandler McGaha and sophomore Josh Campbell. Hall said he expects freshmen Owen Atkison, Andrew Bixler and Isaiah Lindsay to help in the distance events.
Juniors Sam Barnett and Alex Gaddy should be among the top hurdlers in the area, and both should help in the jumps. Junior Travis Murr and sophomores Tyler Fromer and Tommy Reed bring experience in the sprints.
Payton Utterback, a junior, looks to be competitive in the pole vault.
“Finding newcomers to add team depth and developing the field events will be the biggest challenge,” Hall said.
Franklin will host the boys regional May 26.
Coach Blaine Williams said there is no question the team’s strength is the distance crew.The Woodmen’s distance unit includes seniors Zeke Neihart and Hunter Smith; junior Lucas Oskins; and sophomores Ethan Pine and Conner Terhune.Smith was a regional qualifier in the 3,200 last season. Greenwood’s 3,200 relay team also qualified for the regional.
“We had a really strong cross-country season with all of these guys, so I’m hopeful that success carries over to the track this spring,” Williams said
Other returners are sophomore sprinter R.J. Meyers and sophomore thrower Nick Young.
“I expect good things to come from those young men as they continue to get stronger and faster,” Williams said.
Freshmen Nick Patton and Lex Logan are expected to contribute in the hurdles.
“They are eager and very coachable young men,” Williams said. “I’m hopeful that since we lost only five seniors from last year, that we’ll be in good shape once we get into outdoor meets after spring break. We had an all-freshmen (400 relay) last year, so I’m excited to see how we’ve improved there, and I’m anxious to see how our young sprinters come along.”
The Cougars’ top returner is Hunter Slater, a regional qualifier last year in the 1,600. He is the son of head coach Joe Slater.Hunter, who has committed to run for the University of Tampa, is one of only six athletes on the squad.“We’re trying to be really good at the mid-distance and distance/cross-country as a program right now,” Joe Slater said.
Senior Tucker Nelson will help the distance group that includes junior Sean Bowman and freshman Nate Decker.All three are expected to be among the Braves’ top scorers.“It’s the first time Tucker has run track,” coach Steve Fleenor said. “He has played baseball in the past. He was an individual qualifier to the semistate in cross-country, so we expect him to help us out.
“Our distance guys should be improved from last year.”
Seniors Greg Murr and Austin Coy will contribute in the jumps and the hurdles. They are expected to help ease the graduation loss of hurdler Logan Cobb, a state qualifier last season.
“If our guys improve a little bit, maybe we can hold our own there,” Fleenor said.
Junior Tim Abel should be a key contributor in the high jump and long jump.
Fleenor expects junior Bryce Hogue will be solid in the 200 and 400 meters. Fleenor said junior Noah Maness (throws), sophomore Payton Sisson (sprints) and sophomore Nick Parsley (discus) should help if they keep improving.
Fleenor took over as Indian Creek’s boys and girls cross-country coach in the fall. He was previously Perry Meridian’s head track coach for 12 years. Before that, he was track and cross-country at Silver Creek.
Coach Brandon Bangel is optimistic heading into the season.“(The) team is set up to potentially have one of the best seasons in school history,” Bangel said. “Many key athletes return from last season’s (Mid-State) conference championship team, and we certainly hope to defend our conference title.“We also believe we have a chance to compete for a county championship and sectional championship.”
Key returners include Brandon Patterson in the sprints and long jump; Djimmon Ogega in the long sprints and long jump; Shaw Cloud in the sprints; Jacob Walters in the long sprints; Ryder Emberton and Dalton Lowry in the throws; Jacob Ballain in the pole vault; and Jared Williams in the distance races.
“Many of these athletes had an opportunity to compete in the state meet last year and have high aspirations to get back to the state finals and medal this year,” Bangel said. “We believe if we can stay healthy this team has the ability to place in the 10 to 20 range at the state meet this year.”