Center Grove’s 4×400-meter relay team ran the full spectrum of emotions over the final few minutes of Friday’s IHSAA boys state track & field meet.
In the penultimate heat of the night, the Trojan quartet of Logan Bontrager, Tyler Boyer, Matt Fleener and Trevor Hohlt blazed to the finish line in 3 minutes, 18.09 seconds. For a moment, it was the fastest time in the state this year — and it was faster than the time of 3:18.66 that had won Center Grove a state title last spring.
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The excitement of that run was tempered a bit when North Central narrowly beat that time in the final heat.
It then turned to downright dejection when the final results came up on the board and revealed that the Trojans had been disqualified for running too many steps outside of their lane.
“When I saw that board and it said disqualified, my heart just sunk,” Hohlt said.
Head coach Eric Moore appealed the decision, and that ruling was eventually overturned — giving Center Grove its second-place finish back in the 4×400 and setting off a jubilant celebration among the Trojan contingent.
That change also enabled the Trojans to secure a tie for fifth as a team with 31 points.
“I knew coming into this that we were the only team that could go faster,” Moore said. “I really thought we were the only team ready to continue to go faster, and the kids bought into it, and they’ve really worked hard like our kids always do. I’m just real proud of them.”
Whiteland, paced by a second-place finish in the discus from senior Ryder Emberton, was tied for 18th with 12 points. Franklin scored two points to tie for 60th.
Center Grove also got a pair of fourth-place finishes from Grant Mason, who placed fourth in the 100 meters with a time of 10.70 seconds and held on for fourth in the 200 at 21.73. He also joined Gavin Matheson, Hohlt and Titus McCoy on the 4×100 relay team, which finished ninth in 42.35 seconds.
Though he had come in as a top-three seed in the 100 and 200 and had hoped his finishes Friday would at least match his advance billing, Mason was okay with how his final high school meet went.
“When you have a lot of races in one day, it happens,” the Center Grove senior said. “I felt like I could have definitely finished in the top three; I felt like I was there until the very end. But you can’t do anything about it. It’s just time to move on to the next race.
“I can’t really complain. It’s a really fast year compared to all of the other years.”
The Trojans also picked up points in both hurdles races. Hohlt was fourth in the 300 hurdles with a time of 38.69 seconds, and Christian Goines took sixth in 14.42 seconds.
Emberton, a state champion in the shot put last year, had designs on doubling up this year. He came close on the first leg of his quest, topping out at 173 feet, 9 inches in the discus to finish second — just one inch behind Tyler Gilbert of Western — but he fouled on his first two attempts in the shot and his third try left him well short of the finals. He wound up placing 20th in that event at 49 feet, 2 inches.
“I knew I had some chasing to do, and it didn’t go as planned,” Emberton said of the shot, “but I’ve got to look forward to nationals in July, and we’ll go from there.”
The Warriors also got a sixth-place finish in the pole vault from Jacob Ballain, who cleared 14 feet, 6 inches. Teammate Zach Gaertner finished 19th.
The Grizzly Cubs’ points came from their sole qualifier, Chandler McGaha, who was eighth in the 800 meters at 1 minute, 55.43 seconds.
Center Grove’s Austin Daming was 17th in the shot put, while Indian Creek’s Noah Maness finished 20th in the discus. Greenwood’s lone competitor, junior Ethan Pine, placed 21st in the 1,600 meters.
The Center Grove 4×800 relay team of Steven Mills, Andrew Russell, Christopher Jones and Lane Zibke was 25th.