CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Eastern Hancock boys track and field team enters the season under new leadership and with what looks to be a steady all-around team.
For new head coach Pat Echeverria — who is also the school’s head football coach — priority No. 1 was to grow participation in the sport and build out a full roster.
He believes the Royals enter the season with not only a full roster, but a roster that has the ability to compete in nearly every event.
“First and foremost, my goal was to get the numbers to go up a bit. We accomplished that on the boys side. Our numbers are pretty solid across the board this year,” Echeverria said. “I’m excited with the people that we have. We could be very solid in events across the board. We might not have anybody really spectacular, but we’re going to be very steady across each event.”
The Royals are coming off of a season in which they advanced to the Lawrence Central Regional in five events, but one of the key members in making that happen — Ashton Smith — has graduated.
Smith advanced individually in the 400-meter dash and as a member of the 400-, 1600-, and 3200-meter relay teams.
Another key member of two of those relay teams, sophomore Preston Markley, and the Royals’ other individual regional qualifier, senior Kain Sotelo, both return.
Markley looks to be the team’s best distance runner and returns as a member of the 1600 and 3200 relay teams that each placed 13th at the regional.
“Preston in our distance group is fantastic,” Echeverria said. “He’s going to do some really, really good things over the next three years for us on the distance side.”
Sotelo looks to maintain the momentum he ended last season with in the high jump, where he placed 13th at the regional meet, as well as be a key member for the Royals in the hurdles.
“Kain will be big in the high jump, hurdles and 4×400. He’s just a key contributor all over for us,” Echeverria said.
On the field side of things, the team looks to have a trio of throwers with the ability to be competitive night in and night out.
“I think we will be fairly consistent in the throwing with Logan [Hoskins] and Graham [Hicks] and Joseph [Hollenbaugh],” Echeverria said. “Those three are all going to be competitive in every meet that we have.”
Hoskins, a junior, placed seventh in the shot put at last year’s sectional, and Hicks, a senior, placed 10th. Hollenbaugh, a sophomore, placed 20th in discus.
Last season, the Royals placed third at the Mid-Eastern Conference meet with 104 points and fourth at the Mt. Vernon Sectional with 47.5 points. Echeverria expects those numbers to go up this season.
“I think we have a better opportunity to place higher in some of the bigger meets because we can fill every event, and we’re solid all over the place.”
But for the new head coach, with a fully-rounded roster and a few key returners, getting better each and every day as the season progresses will be the main goal for the Royals throughout the 2023 season.
“We’re just trying to make kids excited about running track and getting faster. The thing I love about track is that everything is measurable. Every day, you can go out and find something that you can measure and try to get better at,” Echeverria said. “That’s the great part about it. It’s not about where you start on March 16 but where we end up in May for county, conference and sectional.”
2023 Eastern Hancock Boys Track and Field Schedule
March 16;vs. Knightstown/Tri;5 p.m.
March 22;vs. Cathedral;5 p.m.
April 6;vs. Madison-Grant;5:30 p.m.
April 11;at Greenfield-Central 4-way;5:30 p.m
April 14;at Park Tudor Small School Showcase;6 p.m.
April 19;at South Decatur;5 p.m.
April 22;at Guerin Catholic Invite;10 a.m.
April 25;at Richmond;5:30 p.m.
April 27;Eastern Hancock Invitational;5:30 p.m.
May 3;at Hancock County (MV);5:30 p.m.
May 9;vs. Triton Central;5 p.m.
May 12;at Mid-Eastern Conference (Monroe Central);5 p.m.
May 18;at Mt. Vernon Sectional;5:30 p.m.