Eastern Hancock

Coach: Jerry Cain, fourth season

2014 team finishes: Fourth at Hancock County Meet; first at Mid-Hoosier Conference Meet; fifth at Pendleton Heights Sectional

Leading the way: Senior Shelby Mourey returns this spring hoping to duplicate last year’s state finals appearance in the high jump. Mourey set a Pendleton Heights Sectional record last season with jump of 5 feet, 5.5 inches, then advanced to state with a regional jump of 5-3. In the state finals at Indiana University, Mourey finished 13th at 5-4. She is the school record holder with a jump of 5-6. “Her running has improved quite a bit,” coach Jerry Cain said of Mourey, who also competes in the 200 meters and a pair of relays. “But she got shin splints from basketball. So, basically, she is not high jumping in practice at all. We’re trying to protect her so that when sectional and regional come around, she won’t be in pain, or at least it will be manageable.” 

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Outlook: Mourey and defending Mid-Hoosier Conference Meet 300 hurdles champ Hope Spaulding head a group that should compete for a third-straight MHC title, despite the graduation of decorated distance runner Kiersten Schrope. “That’s always our goal,” Cain said of the conference tilt. “That’s the No. 1 thing, to win conference. You have to shoot to win things you have a chance to win. The numbers just kill us at (the Hancock County Meet).” … Another returning champ is Kaycee Ruble, who won the Hancock County Meet shot put title, the lone Royals’ county win. … Cain believes the Royals are in solid shape for the future, with the influx of a current freshman contingent that includes Bailey Allen, Annie Floyd, Liberty Durham and Maddie Stunda. “We’ve had a few injuries already,” said Cain, who noted that Alex Quillin (hurdles) is questionable to participate following a cheerleading injury. “But we could be even better in the next few years. For a school our size, that’s a pretty good freshman group we have.”

Starting blocks: The Royals opened the season Wednesday with an 81-42 win against host Knightstown. Leading the way with Eastern Hancock victories were Shelby Mourey (high jump, 200, 400 relay), Hope Spaulding (300 hurdles; 400 relay; 1,600 relay), Annie Floyd (1,600; 3,200 relay; 1,600 relay), Karlee Gray (100, 400 relay), Cassey Hancock (3,200 relay; 1,600 relay), Cara Johnson (3,200; 3,200 relay), Bailey Allen (shot put, 400 relay), Maddie Lee (400), Ryley Burkhart (discus), Maddie Stunda (1,600 relay) and Liberty Durham (3,200 relay). The squad is off until it visits North Decatur on April 9.

Greenfield-Central

Coach: Jan Hacker, 13th season

2014 team finishes: First at Hancock County Meet; first at Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet; 2nd at Shelbyville Sectional

Leading the way: Maddie Wise burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2014 to set program records in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles and the Hancock County Meet record in the 100 hurdles, while winning the Hancock County and Hoosier Heritage Conference 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles titles. Wise also advanced to the State Finals in the 100 hurdles, as did fellow returnees Regan Lewis (high jump), Amanda Flora and Savannah Girolami, who teamed with Lewis in the 1,600 relay.

Outlook: In addition to qualifying for the State Finals, the Cougars’ 1,600 relay quartet of Lewis, Flora, Girolami and Becca Flora set a school record a year ago. The graduated Becca Flora is replaced in the lineup so far this spring by freshman Sydney Cook. The new group took sixth place at the Indoor State Finals on Saturday. The foursome also triumphed in its outdoor-opener against Mt. Vernon on March 17, a 95-56 Greenfield-Central win. “We have a couple other girls who are vying for that spot,” Greenfield-Central head coach Jan Hacker said. “And that goes for all four spots. By the end of the year, who knows? Whoever the four fastest girls are on the stopwatch will be (in the relay). But, right now, Sydney is running very well.” Cook won the season-opening 800, as well. … Hacker is additionally trying to fill the gaps left by the Cougars’ top throwers, Jackie Landuyt and Savannah Hart, and graduated pole vaulter Savanna Brock. Hacker noted that five of last season’s seniors are currently on athletic scholarship in college, including four for track and field. “I know I have a lot coming back, but I lost a lot,” she said. … Sophomore Emily Jones won the pole vault competition for the Cougars against Mt. Vernon, and fellow sophomores Kammie McGreal, Ava Dickmann and Tiffany Richmond are also in the mix. A promising collection of throwers includes seniors Dana Woodworth and Caitey Sosnowski, junior Megan Warren and sophomore Jenny Flora. … Junior Shelby Bowmer and sophomore Laurenn Fish joined Amanda Flora and Girolami in the victorious 400 relay vs. the Marauders. … Coming off their first-ever HHC Meet crown, the Cougars have enough talent to repeat. But it won’t be easy, Hacker cautioned. “Mt. Vernon, the score didn’t show it, but I know Tim Leonard, and he is going to have them ready to go,” she said of the Marauders’ head coach. “Yorktown is running really well right now. Pendleton always has a good group of distance runners. And Shelbyville is going be tough. I saw them coming on last year. Conference is going to be very interesting. It’s going to be fun.” … Overall, the Cougars currently have 31 freshmen and sophomores on the roster and 17 juniors and seniors. “The new athletes that we have this year have really bought into our program,” Hacker said. “They are working incredibly hard and following the leadership of our upperclassmen. This is the strongest group in our distance program that I have seen in a long time.”

Starting blocks: The Cougars will return to action April 9 at New Palestine in a three-way meet that will also include Shelbyville.

Mt. Vernon

Coach: Tim Leonard, eighth season

2014 team finishes: Second at Hancock County Meet; third at Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet; third at Pendleton Heights Sectional

Leading the way: After wrapping up decorated soccer and basketball careers, Olivia Coleman looks to cap her equally brilliant track and field career in the coming months. A 400-meter state finals qualifier as a freshman, Coleman was slowed as a sophomore by knee surgery. She returned to near-peak form a year ago, winning four Hancock County Meet events, including the 100 in record time. She also won the Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet 200 title. “I think she was still not 100 percent recovered last year,” Mt. Vernon coach Tim Leonard said. “I’d say she was about 70 percent.” The Marauders’ focus now is to bookend Coleman’s prep career with a return to Indiana University in June for the State Finals. “That’s always the goal … to get to the big show,” Leonard said. “When she was a freshman, the 400 meters (state) field wasn’t really strong, and then the last two years it has been ungodly. But that’s our goal, to get her back, in something.” Coleman opened the season last week against Greenfield-Central with four wins: the 100, 200, 400 and the long jump. Leonard also plans to use Coleman in the high jump at times this season. He believes Coleman is more suited to the high jump than to the 100. “She is so long-legged, it takes a little while to get going down the track,” he said.

Outlook: Aubri Benbow figures to join Coleman in the win column repeatedly this year, and she made her first blue-ribbon appearance against Greenfield-Central in the season-opener. Benbow, a senior, edged defending Hancock County and Hoosier Heritage Conference hurdles champ Maddie Wise by two-thousandths of a second. “That was a great win for her,” Leonard said. “She just out-leaned (Wise) right there at the end. That’s something we practice, and she got her. I think (Benbow) will be among the top 300 hurdlers when we get to county and conference and sectional. Definitely.” … Newcomers Alexa Christensen and Kiara Gibson join a deep sprinting unit. Christensen, a sophomore, didn’t run track last year, while Gibson is a freshman. “In all the years I’ve coached, this is probably the best group of sprinters I’ve had,” Leonard said. Others in the sprint group include Coleman and senior Taylor Riggs. … Morgan Hayse, runner-up in the Hancock County 3,200 last year, returns to pace the Marauders’ distance runners. Fellow milers Kaylee Walkey and Erin Lyday are dealing with injuries. … The Marauders currently boast a roster of 36 girls. They ended last season with 20. “Our numbers are up, and I don’t know why,” Leonard said. “But we’re just so young. We’re just a bunch of rookies.” Mt. Vernon’s sophomore class is its deepest, at 12 strong.

Starting blocks: Mt. Vernon will return to the track at Fishers April 1.

New Palestine 

Coach: Chuck Myers, third season

2014 team finishes: Third at Hancock County Meet; fifth at Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet; fifth at Pendleton Heights Sectional

Leading the way: Rachel Wineman was one of three Hancock County high jumpers at last June’s state finals, joining Greenfield-Central’s Regan Lewis and Eastern Hancock’s Shelby Mourey. Wineman failed to place, but she returns this season as a junior hoping to take down sister Amanda Wineman’s New Palestine program record of 5 feet 4.25 inches set in 2008, when the older Wineman finished 10th at the state finals. … Wineman is joined by returning veteran Sarah Schwartz, who won the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races at the Hancock County Meet a year ago, then finished second and third, respectively, in each event at the Hoosier Heritage Conference championship behind winner Alex Buck of Pendleton Heights. Both juniors, Schwartz and Buck should battle near the top of the local distance scene the rest of the spring. Schwartz won a 1,600 sectional crown last season but finished two places short of a state finals qualification at the regional.

Outlook: Wineman was part of a New Palestine duo at last year’s state finals. Long jumper Annabelle Dockins also qualified. Dockins, though, is sidelined by a knee injury suffered during gymnastics season. Dockins’ absence means Wineman and Schwartz will need even more help from 11 other returning varsity letter winners in order to put the Dragons back on top of the area track standings. The New Palestine girls won five straight county titles through 2011 but none since. The program’s other returning letter winners: seniors Joelle Mawhorr and Erin Trimpe; juniors Gabby Pierson, Courtney Smith, Mattie Waggoner and Bailey Wallace; and sophomores Lillie Cain, Emily Jonas, Lizzy Kleyn and Jenna Williams. … Schwartz, Waggoner and Wallace were part of the Dragons’ county-winning 3,200 relay unit last spring.

Starting blocks: The Dragons will visit Greenwood to open the season April 7.