Next spring, boys shot putters and discus throwers in Johnson County will again know what it’s like to have a chance to win.

With Ryder Emberton out of the way, everyone else isn’t stuck battling for second place anymore.

Emberton has cast an imposing shadow over the rest of the competition, lording over the throwing events on a consistent basis. After his dominating senior season, the Whiteland star is the Daily Journal’s 2017 Athlete of the Year in boys track.

“He walks out of Whiteland as easily the most decorated track and field athlete we’ve ever had, and arguably one of the best athletes, period,” Warriors coach Brandon Bangel said. “He’s not replaceable. When you’ve got a guy like that who’s basically a guaranteed 20 (points) every meet, you don’t replace that.”

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After winning the state championship in the shot put as a junior and taking third in the discus, Emberton entered this season hoping to claim first place in both this spring. He easily outdistanced the field at every stop on the way there, doubling up at the county, conference, sectional and regional meets.

In Bloomington on June 2, Emberton got his day off to a good start by finishing second in the discus at 173 feet, 9 inches — just one inch away from the state champion. An off day in the shot put, though, saw him left out of the finals.

Thankfully, he had two chances to redeem himself once the Indiana high school season was over, and he took advantage. At the Midwest Meet of Champions on June 10, Emberton uncorked a throw of 63 feet, 6 inches in the shot put, winning the event and breaking his own Whiteland mark. He also wound up fourth in the discus.

“I just went in and had nothing to lose,” Emberton said. “I hit a bomb at Midwest and broke the school record.”

Last weekend, he finished 10th in the shot at the New Balance Nationals.

Such success has opened up a new world of possibilities for Emberton, who had never really considered going to college before his throws began drawing attention.

“I was just planning on going to work,” he said. “After all the success I had junior year, winning state, getting third in the disc, I thought I had something going.”

Emberton is taking his throwing talents to Iowa Central Community College, where he hopes to perhaps parlay two years of strong performances into a spot on a Division I roster. Along the way, he’ll study construction management with an eye toward eventually taking over the family business from his father, Robert.

The business of crushing local competition now will be left to someone else.


Ryder Emberton’s finishes in his major meets during his senior season:

Meet;Shot put;Discus

Johnson County;1st;1st

Mid-State Conference;1st;1st

Warren Central Sectional;1st;1st

Warren Central Regional;1st;1st

State Finals;20th;2nd

Midwest Meet of Champions;1st;4th

New Balance Nationals;10th*;14th**

* – Championship division

* – Emerging Elite division


Whiteland school records before and after Ryder Emberton (both previous marks were held by his father, Robert Emberton):


Shot put;51-4 1/4;63-6


All-County team

The 2017 All-Johnson County Team for boys track and field:

Jacob Ballain, Whiteland senior: Placed sixth in the state in the pole vault, clearing a height of 14 feet, 6 inches. … Finished second in conference, sectional and regional meets despite missing time early in the season.

Logan Bontrager, Center Grove senior: One of two holdovers from Trojans’ state champion 4×400 relay from 2016, he helped pave the way to a second-place finish this spring.

Tyler Boyer, Center Grove senior: Another returnee from Trojans’ 2016 4×400 champions who helped lead this year’s quartet to a runner-up finish at state meet.

Josh Campbell, Franklin junior: Won the Mid-State Conference title in the 1,600 meters and was the county champion at 3,200 meters. … Placed third in both events at Columbus North Sectional.

Ryder Emberton, Whiteland senior: State runner-up in the discus by one inch after throwing 173 feet, 9 inches. … County, conference, sectional and regional champion in both shot put and discus.

Matt Fleener, Center Grove junior: Won county and sectional championships in 400-meter dash and was part of 4×400 relay team that placed second at the state meet.

Christian Goines, Center Grove senior: Indiana University recruit won county championships in high jump, long jump and 110 hurdles. … Hampered by injury in postseason but still placed sixth in 110-meter hurdles at state meet.

Trevor Hohlt, Center Grove senior: Fourth in 300 hurdles at state and was part of Trojans’ 4×400 and 4×100 relays that finished second and ninth, respectively. … Won county, sectional and regional titles in the 300 hurdles.

Noah Maness, Indian Creek senior: Took first in discus at the Columbus North Sectional. … Finished second to Emberton at regional meet and earned No. 6 seed for state meet, where he finished 20th.

Grant Mason, Center Grove senior: Won county, sectional and regional titles in the 100 and 200 meters before finishing fourth in both events at the state meet. … Anchored Trojans’ 4×100 relay team, which placed ninth in the state.

Chandler McGaha, Franklin senior: Eighth at state meet in 800-meter run, which he won at county, conference and sectional meets. … Also part of Grizzly Cubs’ county champion 4×800 relay team and a county runner-up in the high jump.

Ethan Pine, Greenwood junior: Won county, sectional and regional championships in the 1,600 meters before placing 21st in that event at the state meet.

Payton Utterback, Franklin senior: Won Mid-State Conference and Columbus North Sectional titles in the pole vault. … Vaulted 14 feet to break school record that had stood since 1967.

Honorable mention

Andrew Bixler, Franklin; Austin Daming, Center Grove; Tyler Fromer, Franklin; Josh Hall, Center Grove; Zach Gaertner, Whiteland; Travis Murr, Franklin; Nick Patton, Greenwood; Nick Riggles, Franklin; Nick Young, Greenwood

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Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2715.