Most high school track and field programs in Johnson County continue to benefit from dual meets scheduled during the regular season — but some are beginning to abandon the format.
Once a principal component of girls and boys schedules, two-program events starting on weekday afternoons and concluding in the early evening hours are gradually being phased out by larger schools.
Center Grove, the largest of the the county’s six public high schools, has no such meets on its schedule this spring.
“It’s like cross-country and wrestling where everybody is gravitating toward weekend events,” Center Grove athletic director Jon Zwitt said. “I can race against one of you on a weekday and it counts as a meet, or I can run against 10 of you on a Saturday at an invitational.”
Also, the anywhere from 15 to 20 workers needed to effectively run a track and field meet are oftentimes more available on a Saturday than on, say, a Tuesday, according to Zwitt.
Nonetheless, other local programs continue to find tremendous value in smaller meets.
During April alone, Greenwood’s girls and boys varsity teams are part of two dual meets and four three-way events.
“I think our schedule has a nice balance,” Woodmen girls and boys coach Blaine Williams said. “We have a mix of duals and triangulars leading up to the county meet, which gives us an opportunity to try different things with our lineups to see who we can get the most points from later in the season.
“We have three invitationals, plus the conference meet that give us a little more preparation for the (postseason).”
Whiteland’s athletes are gaining valuable dual-meet experience before temperatures turn warm on a consistent basis. This season, the Warriors were part of four duals and one three-way meet leading up to the County meet.
Looking ahead, coach Brandon Bangel has his squads locked into the Zionsville Invitational (April 28), the Mid-State Conference meet (May 2) and the Bloomington North Invitational (May 19).
“We run quite a few dual meets early in the season to see kids participate in multiple events,” Bangel said. “Once we get to the midpoint of the season we shift to invitationals.
“This gives us a chance to practice at a really high level. And we can focus on what we did well and didn’t do well in the last meet and make adjustments.”
Whiteland athletic director Ken Sears said he believes smaller meets whether at the Warriors’ recently revamped complex or hosted by another program continue to serve a purpose.
“We still have quite a few and use them to develop our younger athletes, almost in a junior varsity type meet,” Sears said. “(Many athletes) don’t get to run much in the county, conference or invites, so dual meets keep them involved and running against other schools.”
Franklin ran in two dual meets and one three-way event prior to hosting Tuesday’s County meet. Later this month, they travel to Greensburg and Mooresville for a pair of duals in the course of three days.
Indian Creek takes a different course, hosting two four-way meets in early May.
Remaining dual, triangular and four-way girls/boys varsity track and field meets for this season:
April 24: at Medora (Crothersville)
April 25: at Waldron (Morristown)
April 27: at South Decatur (Southwestern)
May 2: at Indian Creek (Eminence/Brownstown Central)
May 4: at Waldron (North Decatur)
April 25: at Greensburg
April 27: at Mooresville
April 25: at Mooresville (Decatur Central)
April 27: at Martinsville (Plainfield)
May 2: vs. Edinburgh/Eminence/Brownstown Central
May 4: vs. Brown County/Hauser/Southwestern