Down its leadoff runner, Center Grove’s 4×400 relay team finished third at last week’s Warren Central boys track and field Regional.
Hardly enough to dazzle those in attendance, but enough to qualify for the state meet Friday.
With senior Logan Bontrager nursing a hamstring injury, the combination of Trevor Hohlt, Tyler Boyer, Sam Hohlt and Matt Fleener placed third in a time of 3 minutes, 22.6 seconds.
Center Grove coach Eric Moore calls Bontrager’s status day-to-day.
“We thought we could run fast enough at regional to qualify, which is what we did,” the coach said. “Sam runs the 300 hurdles, so usually those guys are good 400 runners. The big thing is getting there.”
Center Grove’s regional time positions it as the No. 11 seed at state. Those in the program see only possibility after last year’s foursome won state after being seeded seventh.
Bontrager and Boyer comprised half of that quartet in a race best remembered for since-graduated anchor Jackson Hohlt passing three opposing runners over the final 100 meters to win.
Should Bontrager be able to run, his explosiveness out of the blocks teamed with Trevor Hohlt’s power along the straightaways gives Center Grove a formidable first two runners.
Boyer and Fleener provide consistency over the final four laps.
“It comes down to trusting each other and the work you’ve put in,” said Boyer, who will be rooming with Bontrager at Indiana University starting this summer. “I love being the third runner.
“It’s crucial to get out fast because you’ve got all these guys, and they’re running in the same lane. Passing is much more competitive.”
Being part of Moore’s football program has taught the relay’s three seniors about possessing a champion’s spirit even before the starter’s pistol sounds.
“You’ve got to go in there with the mindset to win,” Boyer said. “Every time we step on the track, we’re there to make each other better.”