Sixth-ranked Center Grove removed all suspense from its third regional title in program history.
By scoring 112 points, the Trojans coasted at the Franklin Community boys track and field regional Thursday — doubling up second-place Franklin Central and Columbus North (61 apiece).
Coach Eric Moore, whose Center Grove program finished in the top five at the state meet four of the last five seasons, is in position to do it again. The Trojans will be represented in 11 events at Indiana University.
Center Grove won five individual events at regional — Nathan Fill in the 800-meter run, Jackson Hohlt in the 300 intermediate hurdles, Christian Goines in the high jump, Cameron Tidd in the discus and Josh Hall in the pole vault.
The Trojans’ 1,600-meter relay team of Tyler Boyer, Zak Smith, Logan Bontrager and Hohlt closed the night in top form with a winning time of 3:20.28.
Whiteland came in fourth in the team standings with 50 points. The Warriors were led by junior Djimmon Ogega, who won the 400 in 49.50 second, was third in the 200 and anchored his team’s third-place 1,600 relay.
As is custom with Ogega, he seemed to shift to another gear about midway through the 400, his specialty.
“I was in Lane 4. I love that lane,” Ogega said. “I can watch half and half to see everyone and pace myself.”
In the 800, Franklin Community junior Chandler McGaha nearly caught Fill with his time of 1:57.64 (Fill was 1:57.36).
“It’s an amazing feeling. I just ran my race different from sectional, and it worked out. Last week I went out in first and lost my lead at around 500 (meters). This time I waited until about 500 to make my move,” McGaha said.
“It helped because I could stay where I needed to be. This will be my first time (at state). I need to work on my speed so I can stay with (Fill) and maybe contend.”
Greenwood sophomore Ethan Pine punched his ticket to Bloomington by coming in second in the 1,600-meter run. Pine’s time was 4:28.80.
He, too, is off to the state finals for the first time.
“It’s pretty exciting because I’ve never made it this far,” Pine said. “Initially, the strategy was to stay in the top three, but as I got to the last 800 I started kicking it in. And then in the last 300 I just gave it my all.”
Hall, a junior, won the pole vault with a best of 14 feet, 6 inches. He narrowly missed his third attempt at 15 feet, which would have been a personal best.
Goines needed a best of 6-3 to win high jump. The feat was satisfying in part because only moments early the junior fell short of making it to state in the 110-meter high hurdles with a sixth-place finish.
“I thought I would have to get 6-4 to get the state standard because coming in I was seeded fourth or fifth at that height,” Goines said. “Last year I was coming in, like, sixth at the regional. This year I was a lot more motivated. It feels great to be able to go down there and jump.”