Evan Tandy is walking, talking proof that turning negatives into positives is every bit about attitude.
The Center Grove senior has had two examples, painful as they were both physically and emotionally, to learn from.
One dates back four years, the other two weeks.
Two bad concussions forced Tandy to give up sports he truly loved — football and wrestling — following his eighth-grade school year, leaving track as
his lone athletics focus once in high school.
“He was probably the best middle school (football) prospect we had,” said Trojans boys track and field coach Eric Moore, who as the school’s head football coach remembers Tandy playing safety, wingback and even some defensive end.
“Pound-for-pound Evan is one of our strongest kids. He’s disciplined and he’s intelligent. In hurdles everything has to be on stride. Evan is disciplined enough not to overrun or underrun.”
Tandy is a two-time qualifier for Saturday’s state finals meet, competing in the 110-meter high hurdles as the No. 13 seed and running the second leg on the Trojans’ fifth-seeded 1,600-meter relay.
Moore will be the first to insist Tandy should be a three-event participant.
Tandy trailed only teammate Justin Veteto in the 300-meter low hurdles at the Columbus North Sectional when he tumbled to the all-weather surface after making it over the eighth and final hurdle.
“My hamstring was kind of acting up and I just couldn’t get my step,” Tandy said. “I landed and came down on the side of my foot and rolled my ankle. I just collapsed ... kind of disappointing, to say the least.”
“It was heartbreaking because he put in all that work,” Moore said. “It’s just the fact you’re a senior, you’re laying on the track and it’s the last hurdle. But he battled back real well at the (Connersville) regional. Evan is a team player.”
Tandy took second in the 110s behind Veteto, the defending state runner-up, in a time of 14.87 seconds. In the meet’s final event, Tandy worked with sophomore lead-off runner Jackson Hohlt, sophomore Zak Smith and Veteto to take second in the 1,600 relay in 3:20.38.
Tandy knows the state meet setup well, having made it to the Indiana University facility as a junior. He ran a time of 14.7 in the prelims of the 110 hurdles to place 23rd overall.
An excellent student, Tandy’s 4.1 grade-point average positioned him 37th academically in a graduating class of of 540 students.
The next four years of Tandy’s future unfolds at Hillsdale College, which is located a few miles north of the Indiana-Michigan border.
It’s here Tandy plans to double major in chemistry and math. He’ll also continue his track and field career as a hurdler for the Chargers, who compete at the NCAA Division-II level.
In a perfect world, the 6-foot, 175-pound Tandy would have played high school football and probably wrestled, too. That same dream bubble also shows him going hurdle-for-hurdle against the 6-5 Veteto in two events and teaming with him for one Saturday.
Fate, however, doesn’t play favorites. The senior realizes this and is simply excited to again be representing Center Grove on high school track’s most-visible platform.
“I know Justin’s a little bit faster, but it doesn’t cause any tension. We’re good friends. Him and I were on Bantam Football League teams together, so we’ve known each other since fifth grade,” Tandy said.
“I’m probably looking forward to the 1,600 (relay) a little more because it’s a little bit more fun. It’s more relaxing and the last event of the meet.”
Maybe Tandy and Veteto can make the walk to the multi-tiered awards podium together.
Not once, but twice.