Eastern Hancock Royals

Coach: Jerry Cain, fifth year

Key losses: The biggest loss for Eastern Hancock is Shelby Mourey, who led the way in the high jump and sprints.

“You don’t replace a Shelby,” Eastern Hancock girls track coach Jerry Cain said.

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Other losses are Cassey Hancock, who participated in relay events and the discus and the 400-meter dash; and Ryley Burkhardt, who Cain said will be “hard to replace.”

Key returnees: When it comes to top returners, Cain singles out his seven senior leaders — Hope Spaulding (hurdles), Karlee Gray (sprints), Alex Quillin (hurdles/high jump), Maddie Lee (sprints/400 relay), Kaycee Ruble (shot put), Cara Johnson (middle distance), and Emily Schrope (middle distance). Ruble placed seventh in the state meet a year ago.

Also, junior Emily Wilson is expected to shoulder the load in the discus.

Outlook: With 38 years coaching experience, Jerry Cain knows what it takes to build a championship caliber program and the lessons have trickled down to his Eastern Hancock girls track and field team, which is 147-20 in his four years at the helm.

“We can compete against anyone in our league with schools our size,” Cain said.

The Royals have proved that the last three years, earning the Mid-Hoosier Conference championship.

“Our main goal is to win the conference. The kids are competitive and do well. We have four kids that are No. 1 in an event that stand 5-foot-1 or around there. It is amazing to see what they do, and they are terrific,” Cain said.

Entering as the MHC favorite again, Cain admits his athletes do not think of the target on the back or the expectations to win.

“We just don’t deal with the pressure. We just go out and win. The girls worry about preparing and then they go out and win. They get the job done,” Cain said.

Terrific sums up how Cain thinks the Royals will do this year, especially after amassing a 33-4 campaign last season.

“This is my fifth year at Eastern Hancock and these kids are the most fun thing to happen to me,” he said. “They are terrific kids and great students. Our success is because of the kids. I don’t talk about it, but they know I care about them, and they deserve all the credit.”