Center Grove adding two state championship trophies to its display case in the span of 28 days served notice that Johnson County sports could be special in 2015-16.
What began with the Trojans blanking Harrison (West Lafayette), 4-0, on Halloween night to capture the Class 2A boys soccer crown concluded with Jackson Hohlt, relay baton in hand, blazing a trail down the main straightaway at last week’s IHSAA Boys State Track and Field Finals.
Sandwiched in-between are the Trojans’ Class 6A state football title, Center Grove’s near-miss at the semistate in volleyball, Franklin Community High School junior Burk VanHorn wrestling under the lights at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Whiteland’s Ryder Emberton winning it all in the shot put, and more.
Center Grove’s boys golf and baseball programs still can pen the ultimate final chapter.
After all, the top-ranked Trojans golfers are expected to compete at the state finals in Carmel on June 14 and 15. Coach Keith Hatfield’s baseball team plays Saturday afternoon against Roncalli in the Class 4A Plainfield Semistate.
Somewhat overshadowed by Center Grove’s football season was coach Darrin Fisher’s Whiteland program running the table to win the Mid-State Conference championship outright. Meanwhile, Indian Creek finished runner-up in the Mid-Indiana Football Conference with a 4-1 mark.
Dana Matis’s fourth and final season coaching volleyball at Center Grove, her alma mater, nearly went the distance.
Led by seniors Madison Smeathers and Taylor Hammill, the Trojans marched all the way to the Class 4A Seymour Semistate before dropping a gut-wrenching 25-21, 15-25, 25-19, 15-25, 10-15 decision to eventual state champion Cathedral.
The Trojans finished 32-6 and were atop the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference standings.
VanHorn and Center Grove sophomore Gleason Mappes advanced to the semifinals of the 160-pound division in wrestling, setting up a potential all-county match for the top level of the award’s podium.
It didn’t materialize, though it could next season if VanHorn and Mappes again wrestle the same weight class.
Indian Creek’s girls basketball squad, led by Daily Journal Player of the Year Candace Danz, made it to the championship game of the 3A Danville Regional before losing 47-39 to Lebanon. Along the way the Braves manufactured a miraculous late-game rally in their 71-70 win against Danville in the finale of the Indian Creek Sectional.
Already this spring, Indian Creek baseball won its first sectional in 43 years, Whiteland boys track entered the state coach’s poll for the first time in school history — with Nos. 19 and 18 rankings — and then demonstrated it was worthy by finishing eighth at the state finals.
It was at this same venue Center Grove senior Cameron Tidd won his second consecutive state discus championship. Hohlt later anchored the Trojans’ victorious 1,600-meter relay that also included Logan Bontrager, Zak Smith and Tyler Boyer.
Center Grove boys track finished fourth in the team standings — the fifth time in six seasons coach Eric Moore’s program has achieved this.
And Center Grove’s girls tennis team reached the state finals for the first time since 2010.
As for what the 2016-17 school year has in store for Johnson County athletics, nobody knows.
The only certainty is that it has a tough act to follow.