Coach: Dan Weimer (seventh season)
Key losses: Sam Jones, Kevin Laetsch, Lance Hilton
Key returnees: Chris Poturalski, Seth Eagleson, Riley Wilson, Andrew Fluegel, Andriy Vlashyn, Zach Chester, Chase Tuggle, Will Coleman, Josh McKean
2013 Team finishes: 1st at Hancock County, 4th at Hoosier Heritage Conference, 4th at Warren Central Sectional
Newcomers to watch: The distance ranks will be bolstered by freshmen Chase Crowder, Aaron Kirklin and Samuel Voelz. Ninth graders Adam Brickens and Jacobi Maxwell should contribute as sprinters.
Outlook: Early last May, Chris Poturalski’s spirited final leg of the 1,600 relay clinched New Palestine’s first Hancock County championship in nine years. Nearly three weeks later, Poturalski nearly ran his way into a spot in the State Finals.
At the Connersville Regional, Poturalski placed fifth in the 400, clocking in at 51.52 seconds – 0.31 seconds behind third-place Jacob Hampton of Columbus East. The top three regional finishers move on to the State Finals.
Now a junior, Poturalski has a chance to be the first Dragon to make it to state since Dillon Pike qualified for the 2012 State Finals in the 800.
“Chris has done a fine job of working hard this fall and winter to give him some great opportunities this spring,” NP coach Dan Weimer said.
A gifted group of athletes returns for the Dragons, who sent seven team members to the Connersville Regional last year. Senior Zach Chester was the 2013 Warren Central Sectional runner-up in the long jump. The 1,600 relay of Sam Jones (graduated), Poturalski, Chase Tuggle (senior) and Andriy Vlashyn (junior) was third at last year’s sectional.
Senior Seth Eagleson was fifth in the 1,600 and 3,200 at the 2013 sectional. Eagleson, who won his third consecutive Hancock County Cross Country Meet in the fall, will run cross country and track at Lee University (Tenn.) next year.
“We will compete at our best in the championship part of the season (county, conference and the IHSAA tournament,” Weimer said.
Notes: Eagleson was also the boys Athlete of the Meet at last year’s county track competition. … New Palestine’s first outdoor meet is Tuesday against visiting Greenwood.