After finishing in 20th place at last year’s IHSAA Boys Track State Finals in the 1,600-meter run, Greenwood’s Ethan Pine felt he had work to do.
The junior took care of a large portion of it Thursday with a convincing victory at the Warren Central Boys Track and Field Regional. Pine’s winning time was 4:24.24 — or slightly more than two seconds faster than his state finals clocking of a year ago.
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“This year my coach has switched up our exercises a little bit,” Pine said. “We’ve been focusing a lot more on speed and endurance, whereas last year it was mostly speed.
“Obviously, experience helps, too. Just knowing what to do and mentally breaking through the barrier and telling myself I could do it.”
Pine’s performance was one of many superb efforts regarding Johnson County athletes.
Center Grove, which placed second to the host Warriors in the final team standings with 78.5 points, picked up blue ribbons in the 100- and 200-meter dashes courtesy of senior Grant Mason. Meanwhile, Trevor Hohlt blazed a time of 38.87 seconds to win the 300 hurdles.
Others moving onto state for the Trojans will be Christian Goines, a third-place finisher in the 110-meter high hurdles; and all three relay teams. The Mason-anchored 4×100 was runner-up Thursday; Center Grove’s 4×400 and 4×800 both came in third.
Goines, who qualified a year ago in high jump, failed to do so this time around with an eighth-place finish. However, the senior is glad to be going back to state as a hurdler.
“It feels great. It’s definitely my best chance to win state,” Goines said. “I’ve been injured for a while, so I’ve just been trying to pull it back in the (preliminaries) a little bit and go all out in the finals.”
Defending state shot put champion Ryder Emberton of Whiteland was a double winner for the Warriors. The senior outdueled Indian Creek’s Noah Maness in the discus, 169-1 to 165-4, and came back to place first in the shot put with a best of 57-2.
Whiteland also is sending two to state in the pole vault after seniors Jacob Ballain and Zach Gaertner came in second and third, respectively.
Also keeping his season alive is Center Grove junior Austin Daming, who placed third in the shot put, and Franklin’s Chandler McGaha, runner-up in the 800-meter run.
Narrowly missing out on making it to the state finals in running events were Center Grove’s Matt Fleener in the 400 (fourth), Whiteland’s David Ryan in the 800 (sixth) and Franklin’s Andrew Bixler in the 3,200 (fourth).
In the field events, it was Center Grove’s Travis Roehling in the long jump (tied for fifth), Greenwood’s Nick Young in the discus (fifth) and Franklin’s Payton Utterback in the pole vault (fifth).