CHARLOTTESVILLE — Last season, Eastern Hancock boys track coach Clayton Shultz acknowledged the depth within his team, which placed third at the Mid-Hoosier Conference meet without a first-place finisher. However, he also noticed that the Royals were missing go-to athletes capable of carrying the team in competitive meets.
That’s changed now as the Royals are a year older and a year stronger with several veterans back for the 2015-16 season.
They proved it Thursday against rival Knightstown in their track and field home opener, edging the Panthers 66-57.
Reece Burkhart, Aaron Riley, Devyn Brinson and Clayton Brumfield are shaping into what Shultz had in mind all along.
“We had a pretty good night,” Shultz said after the meet. “Our distance was phenomenal. With Clay (Brumfield), I just need to pick where to put him. People forget about him, but he’s pretty good. Devyn (Brinson) was really good, too. We have some dogs (at the top).
“I’m more of a big picture guy. Tonight was great, but I’m looking towards the conference meet and sectional.”
Riley won the shot put with a throw of 47 feet, 8 inches while Burkhart, who won the discus competition Tuesday (136-1), finished second. Brumfield took first in both the 1,600- and 800-meter runs while Brinson won the 200-meter dash and placed second in the 100-meter dash.
The girls’ squad, which has claimed the last three conference titles, began to pull away from its MHC foe after seven events and won 76-45.
Hope Spaulding, who finished fourth in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles at the Pendleton Heights Sectional last season, won both events Tuesday.
Freshman Haley Best had a memorable first meet for the Royals, winning the 100-meter dash and the long jump (14-9.5) while teammate Emily Wilson finished first in the discus (86-1) and third in the shot put (26-10).
“Hope (Spaulding) and (Haley) Best both ran well tonight,” girls coach Jerry Cain said. “Best is going to work out pretty well for us.”
Also for the girls, Taylor Stine won the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs while teammate Alex Quillen finished second in both the high jump (4-8) and 300-meter hurdles.
The girls won all three relay events while the boys won the 3,200- and 1,600-meter team relays.
Brumfield’s split in the 1,600-meter relay would have won the open 400 race, according to Shultz.
Eastern Hancock returns to action April 7 with a home meet versus North and South Decatur. The Hancock County meet will take place May 4 at Greenfield-Central while the MHC meet will be May 10 at Waldron.