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Hurdles champ helps Trojans place third in team standings

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With 111 years now in its rear-view mirror, the annual IHSAA Boys State Track and Field Meet does not impress easily.

And yet more and more it’s becoming difficult not to notice the accomplishments of Johnson County athletes and teams in recent years.

Center Grove with 29 points departed Indiana University’s Robert C. Haugh Complex on Saturday in a third-place tie with Avon.

This means coach Eric Moore’s program since 2009 has finished, in order, 11th (2009), seventh (2010) and first (2011) before taking a step back in 2012 (32nd) and then rallying to place third the past two springs.

In all Saturday there were county athletes in 10 of 16 events with points scored in six.

Center Grove senior Justin Veteto won the 300-meter intermediate hurdles in 36.85 seconds, took second in the 110-meter highs in 14.16 and anchored the Trojans’ fourth-place 1,600-meter relay also featuring senior Evan Tandy and sophomores Jackson Hohlt and Zak Smith.

Sophomore Cameron Tidd produced a sixth-place finish in the discus for Center Grove, while junior Grant Stapleton ran a 1:55.35 in the 800-meter run for ninth place.

The event marked Tidd’s first appearance on the big stage. His best discus throw of 160 feet, 10 inches, came during the third heat of preliminaries with Tidd seeded fourth based on his 166-3 recorded at the Connersville Regional.

“I was just trying to place in the top five. I was seeded fourth, but didn’t have a good day,” Tidd said. “I was a little nervous coming in. I’ve never been at a meet with nearly this many people and so many good throwers.”

Whiteland senior pole vaulter Cole Wuest couldn’t make the same claim after having competed here last season.

Wuest, who badly wanted to eclipse Hunter Swails’ school record of 14 feet, 9 inches, before his high school career was complete, settled on sharing it.

It was good enough to secure Wuest a seventh-place medal, which did best Swails in one area: the latter’s height came in his eighth-place finish at the 2010 state meet.

With the bar set at 15 feet, Wuest slightly grazed it on his first two attempts. His third try wasn’t nearly as suspenseful.

“The first one was the closest one,” said Wuest, who next season will be competing for Indiana State University’s men’s track and field program. “I’m glad that I medaled, but I really wanted the record. Tying doesn’t really do it for me.”

The county’s impressive display in field events continued with Franklin Community senior Reid Abney’s eighth-place effort in the shot put.

After bringing back a seventh-place medal in the discus as a junior, Abney was unable to return in that event after placing a distant 10th at the Columbus North Sectional on May 22.

He therefore channeled his disappointment into motivation in the shot, his best put measuring 55 feet, 8¼ inches.

“It tore me up to watch people throw the discus (at regional),” admitted Abney, who plans to continue his track career at Vincennes University. “But it allowed me to focus on the shot. I wish I would have done better today, but I pulled my hamstring in warmups.”

Greenwood senior David Dalton just missed out on a medal by coming in 10th in the 3,200-meter run in a time of 9:17.40 — well ahead of his regional time of 9:26.33.

Running in third place through four laps, Dalton was part of the logjam in which places 2 through 8 would be separated by a total of only 3.86 seconds.

Elsewhere, Whiteland junior Brandon Benson ran impressively in the fourth of the five heats in the 100-meter dash. His time of 11.16 seconds just missed on making the finals and positioned him 17th overall.

Another junior, Indian Creek’s Logan Cobb, ran a 15.10 in the 110-meter high hurdles to place 15th, two spots ahead of Center Grove’s Tandy (15.16).

The Trojans’ 3,200-meter relay team of junior Bradley Bennett, sophomores Nathan Fill and Reed Sauter and freshman Zane Libke wound up 22nd in a time of 8:16.81.

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