Coach: Scott Burton
Key losses: Syrus Fletcher, Donovan Hankins, Jason LaFord, Zachary Phillips, Joshua Woodard
Key returnees: Zachariah Bishop, Senior; Nathan Brand, Sophomore; Braden Brown, Sophomore; Jacob Hansen, Junior; Thomas Hembree, Senior; Austin Herald, Junior; Jacob Keener, Senior; Andrew Kim, Senior; Tyler Morris, Junior; Bryce Ratliff, Junior; Austyn Tift, Senior; Michael Sosnowski, Junior
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Newcomers: Parker Niemeier, Freshman, Cooper Hanson, Sophomore
Outlook: By the skin of their teeth the Greenfield-Central boys’ 4×800-meter relay team won a sectional title at Warren Central last year.
Taking down the heavily favored Warriors team by just 1.18 seconds, the Cougars grabbed one of their two sectional titles that day. They were even faster at the regional in Connersville, finishing in third place and qualifying for state.
Now, that relay team is two members short with the graduation of Syrus Fletcher and Jason LaFord and the Cougars are still looking for that lineup that is going to give them the best chance to win.
“It’s still early, and we’re still looking for that combination that works for us and we’ll have a better idea as the season progresses,” coach Scott Burton said. “We’ll get a feel for where people are at but we’ve got a couple guys that we think can come close to what that team did last year.”
The other sectional title for the Cougars came from Zachariah Bishop in the 3,200 where he blew away the other competitors by 15 seconds or more with his 10-minute flat time. He ran a similar time at the Connersville Regional but only managed to seal sixth place.
Long-distance events look to be an area where the Cougars should have a lot of success. Along with Bishop in the two mile, the Cougars also return juniors Tyler Morris and Jacob Hansen who finished fourth and seventh in the 1,600 at Warren last year.
“Obviously in the distance we’ve got Zach in the mile and in the two as well, and Tyler and Jacob add some depth in the mile as well,” Burton noted. “We’ve got some guys that are going to step up as sophomores in Nathan Brand and Cooper Hansen and we’re hoping to build on them.”
In the sprints, the Cougars will turn to junior Austin Herald to grab some big points. Last year Herald finished fourth and seventh in the 100 and 200, respectively at Warren Central and just missed the cutoff for both events at Connersville.
“Early on, out of all our athletes, Austin’s looking really good,” Burton said. “We’re looking for him to step up in the 100 and 200 and hopefully in a couple of relays.”
However, it did just get a whole lot tougher for the Cougars once they reach the postseason. Already with Warren Central, Franklin Central and Roncalli, the Cougars will now have to contend with another gritty team in Whiteland.