Welcome to the jungle: Cougars happy about being part of county tourneys

Greenwood Christian Academy athletics director Dan Carmichael anticipates a renewed enthusiasm among his school’s sports programs during the 2017-18 school year.

For the first time in school history, Cougar teams are competing in Johnson County tournaments.

It serves as another milestone for the school, which opened its doors in 1999 offering only three sports sanctioned by the IHSAA.

That number is now 14 and could grow to 15 if Greenwood Christian Academy puts a girls tennis team on the courts next spring. Carmichael predicts boys tennis also can be added at some point in the next few years.

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Taking part in the various county tourneys further legitimizes Greenwood Christian athletically. No longer is it the small school on the outside looking in.

However, with 180 students enrolled during the 2016-17 school year, Greenwood Christian Academy is the smallest school among the county tournament participants. Edinburgh (274) held this title in years past.

Greenwood Christian, which lobbied to be part of Johnson County tournaments as far back as 2014, was finally voted in at the Johnson County Athletic Directors Association meeting Feb. 2.

“I think it was the right thing to do. I think they made a nice decision. The more student-athletes coming in, we can be more competitive,” Carmichael said. “I don’t foresee us being a force for a few years.

“But as the saying goes, anyone can win on a given night.”

Greenwood Christian makes its county debut Aug. 24 in girls golf. A little more than a month later, volleyball, which returns most of its main players from last season’s Class A regional finalist, sees what kind of showing it can make.

The girls and boys county basketball tourneys are in November and January, respectively.

In the latter, first-year Greenwood Christian head coach Jonny Marlin will lead the Cougars in a first-round matchup against host Center Grove. Marlin, a former Trojans point guard, graduated in 2011 and remains the program’s career and single-season assist leader.

He said he thinks Greenwood Christian’s involvement in possibly every county tournament with the exception of swimming and wrestling is a positive overall.

“It’s kind of the next step for us. If you’re in the county and not in the county tournament, it’s like, ‘Why aren’t they in?’ ” Marlin said. “Now we all get to play on the same stage as the big dogs. We just want to see where we’re at.”

In previous track and field seasons, Greenwood Christian had to wait until sectional to test itself against some of Johnson County’s large programs.

The Cougars took part in a four-way meet this past spring at Greenwood that also included Roncalli and Beech Grove. Late April meets hosted by Indian Creek and Whiteland were cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

The annual county meets at Franklin will correct this.

“One of the things we wanted for our kids is the opportunity to compete. The county meet gives us one more opportunity to do that against quality competition,” Greenwood Christian girls track coach Joe Slater said.

“I think the kids here feel it’s overdue. They’re excited and feel that they belong.”

Making their debut

A look at the Johnson County tournaments that Greenwood Christian Academy will be competing in during the fall and winter seasons:

Date;Sport;Host

Aug. 24;Girls golf;Greenwood

Sept. 27-28;Volleyball;Edinburgh

Sept. 30;Cross-country;Franklin

Nov. 14-18;Girls basketball;Franklin

Jan. 9-13;Boys basketball;Center Grove

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.