State medalists return for Mt. Vernon boys track team

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Mt. Vernon’s George Burhenn competes during the 110-meter hurdles final of last year’s Lawrence Central Regional.

The Daily Reporter File Photo

FORTVILLE — Returning all of the scorers from a school-record 11th place finish at last year’s IHSAA Boys Track and Field State Finals, Nick Clarkson’s first year as the Mt. Vernon head coach has potential to be a very good one.

“We’ve got strengths at most all spots,” Clarkson, who takes over for long-time head coach Bruce Kendall, said. “We did graduate some talent, with Keagan LaBelle (a state qualifier in the pole vault) who was great for us in a lot of events, but we reloaded with a very strong junior class that are now seniors.”

Seniors George Burhenn and Tristan Trevino and juniors Tre Jones and Andres Langston return from last year’s 4×400-meter relay team that set a school record (3:20.67) and finished third in the state.

Burhenn, in the 300 hurdles (fifth), Trevino, in the 800 (eighth), and Langston, in the 400 (eighth) all earned state medals in individual events, too.

“It’s a pretty powerful group,” Clarkson said. “Those four are going to be in a lot of events. Most of them will be in at least three in every meet. We have our eye on doing better than last year on all of our splits (in the relay). Hopefully that improves our placement, as long as it’s a similar pool of talent; that should yield to better results.”

As well as the events he qualified for state last year, Langston is expected to take part in the high jump. He cleared 6-feet, 5-inches during the indoor season to earn a spot in last weekend’s Hoosier State Relays in Bloomington. He also qualified for the 60-meter hurdles.

Burhenn, the 6-foot 5-inch tight end football recruit for Purdue University, will be in both hurdle events as well as the relay. He went to state in all three last year. Trevino will be part of his two state-qualifying events as well as the 4×800 relay.

The distance relay group, which is still under the tutelage of Kendall, who will remain as an assistant coach with the program, set a school record (8:10.44) and placed eighth in Saturday’s HSR. Trevino was the leadoff runner of that crew that included junior Colin Strachman, sophomore Ahmed Saleh, and freshman Caden Cassada.

“We’re pretty strong in sprints, hurdles and a lot of different areas,” Clarkson added. “We thought we had graduated a lot (with our distance runners), but these young kids have done so well. I think one of the reasons is coach Kendall has both hands on the distance programs. Times are dropping like crazy.”

Jones’s additional events will include the 200-meter and 400-meter sprints.

Another key performer returns after missing last season due to injury. Senior Cam Parsley was 13th at the HSR long jump with a distance of 20-feet, 6-inches. He’s expected to be a big part of the sprint team, too, in the 100, 200 and 400 relay.

Clarkson’s team should have plenty of depth. With around 80 kids on the team, it’s one of Mt. Vernon’s biggest groups in school history.

In field events, Ben Roembke leads the throwers that include veteran Kyler Grill and senior newcomer Brady Gray, who set school records for the swim team in the winter. Ren Davis adds strength in the long jump and Brennan LaBelle takes over for graduated brother, Keagan LaBelle, as the top pole vaulter.

There are a number of talented sprinters, led by D.J. Marble, and include a veteran of big meets in Darnell Stewart and newcomers Chris Edmonds and Jaden Gibson.

Daylon King adds more depth to the middle distance and distance group along with Isaiah Njau.

This is my 12th year in coaching, and ninth as a head coach, I’m real hesitant to say, ‘Hey’ let’s go win state,’” Clarkson said. “… (We’re) focusing on our times from last year and how we’re going to improve them. The goal is to be faster, or throw farther or jump farther. All of those things need to improve.

“Improvement is the goal for your athletes. If you’re making your kids maximize their ability, that’s always my goal. I got a lot of kids from last year with a lot of great times. I’m not looking to win state, necessarily, I’m looking to make them go faster and better than the year before. If that means win state with those times, that’d be great. If we improve, I’m doing my job. I can’t control what everybody else is doing.”

2023 Mt. Vernon Boys Track and Field Schedule

Date;Opponent;Time

April 4;vs. Greenwood/Roncalli;5:30 p.m.

April 8;at Terre Haute Challenge;10 a.m.

April 11;vs. Lawrence North;5 p.m.

April 15;at Marion Relays;11 a.m.

April 17;vs. Fishers;5:30 p.m.

April 21;at Chatard Invitational;5 p.m.

April 24;vs. Greenfield-Central;5:30 p.m.

April 25;at Noblesville Invitational;5:30 p.m.

April 29;at Kokomo Relays;11:30 a.m.

May 3;Hancock County (at MV);5 p.m.

May 11;HHC (at MV);5:30 p.m.

May 13;at Huntington North;11 a.m.

May 18;Mt. Vernon Sectional;5:30 p.m.

May 25;at Regional;5:30 p.m.