HANCOCK COUNTY — It won’t be long before the attentions of high school sports teams and their followers switch from indoors to outdoors.

Winter sports are winding down and spring sports are more than just around the corner, they are here.

Track and field programs started practicing last month and have already started indoor portions of their schedules. Other spring sports teams are getting underway, or about to get underway, with practices.

If the start of the indoor track and field season is any indication, it should be another strong campaign for Hancock County tracksters.

Last week, the Greenfield-Central quartet of Chris Ross, Cash Looper, Carter Crouch and Griffen Wheeler set a school indoor record in the distance medley relay with a time of 11:05.15 at an indoor event last Saturday hosted by Pike High School at the University of Indianapolis.

The Cougar girls competed there, too, with junior Savannah Lake setting a G-C indoor mark in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.88 seconds.

Wheeler and Lake are part of a large group of Hancock County track and field student-athletes hoping to return to their respective IHSAA state finals in June.

Mt. Vernon finished 11th in last year’s boys’ state meet and all of the Marauders’ scorers are back for 2023, including the entire group of the third-place 1600-meter relay team of George Burhenn, Wilbert Jones, Tristan Trevino and Andres Langston. Burhenn (fifth in the low hurdles), Trevino (eighth in the 800) and Langston (eighth in the 400) all scored in individual events, too.

Greenfield-Central’s Elliot Ryba, 10th in the high jump, was just edged out of scoring and being on the podium, but he’s another one of the top performers back for 2023.

On the girls’ side, New Palestine returns the dynamic duo of Division I throwers Quin Lumbley and Sydney Miller.

Headed to Ball State after her senior season, Miller returns after a county-best fourth-place finish in last year’s discus competition. Purdue-bound Lumbley placed eighth in the shot put.

A qualifier as a sophomore, but missing all of last season due to recovering from injury, Mt. Vernon’s Riley Nielsen, a Central Michigan signee, should be a top performer in the pole vault.

A lot of talent and success returns to the county softball fields.

Eastern Hancock has a lot of its roster back from a team that reached last year’s semi-state. The Royals finished 21-5-1 last season and among the returnees are all-state players Sammie Bolding and Brooklyn Willis.

New Palestine’s strong softball tradition is expected to continue with a pair of all-staters, too, in catcher Aglaia Rudd and infielder Allie Blum. The Dragons were 23-4-1 last year.

Mt. Vernon had a youthful team last season, but earned an upset win over the Dragons and reached the sectional championship game. Many of Veronica Kirby’s players return from last year’s 13-9 team. Greenfield-Central had a winning season last year at 15-8.

On the baseball diamond, New Palestine went 24-7 and reached the regional championship game. Mt. Vernon was 17-10 and a Hoosier Heritage Conference best 12-2 in league games. The Marauders return one of the area’s top pitchers in Xavier University recruit Eli Bridenthal.

The county high school boys golf teams and girls tennis teams will begin matches and tournaments in April. Practices start next week.

New to the spring sports scene is boys volleyball. An IHSAA emerging sport, New Palestine is the lone county school that will have a team this season. They’ll begin matches next week.

Spring sports key dates and information

First practice: Baseball (March 13), Boys golf (March 13) Boys and girls track and field (Feb. 13), Girls tennis (March 13), softball (March 6).

First contest: Baseball (March 27), Boys golf (March 27), Boys and girls track and field (Feb. 27), Boys volleyball (March 13), Girls tennis (March 27), softball (March 20).

Emerging sport: Boys volleyball (New Palestine)

Sectionals: Baseball (May 24-27, 29), Boys golf (June 2, 3, 5), Boys track and field (May 18), Boys volleyball (May TBD), Girls tennis (May 17-20), Girls track and field (May 16), Softball (May 22-27).