They’re not as wide-eyed as they might have been a year ago.
Mt. Vernon, Greenfield-Central and New Palestine will have participants in 13 of 16 events — two events have multiple county competitors —at the biggest meet of the season today, the IHSAA Boys Track and Field State Finals at the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington.
If ever there was a place to be wide-eyed with surprise and amazement this might be it. It’s one of the country’s best outdoor track and field facilities and all the top competitors will be there.
What is a hopeful benefit to the majority of the Hancock County competitors, they’ve been there before.
Performing on the big stage is nothing new to them. Most all were state qualifiers in 2022.
Mt. Vernon, ranked No. 7 in the latest IATCCC (Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches) poll, has competitors in six events. All were competed in last year’s state finals, and except for the 4×800-meter relay, with the same people.
“Usually when I’ve come down here and you go to the state meet it’s the first time they’ve been to IU and the first time they’ve seen the track,” Mt. Vernon coach Nick Clarkson said. “You have to really walk them through this psychological endeavor.”
Clarkson said that endeavor is pointing out the tent where you sit and wait for your event. Warmups are at a completely different venue.
“Everything’s different. It’s bigger. The kids are kind of overwhelmed with the newness of it.
“For us, most of the kids have done it once or twice before,” Clarkson said. “They’re very calm and loose. That’s great. You want a kid to feel relaxed. You don’t want to be all high-strung almost hyperventilating the day before. Our kids were wonderful handling it (Thursday). They’re playing card games in the hotel room and everyone is kind of relaxed and having a good time.”
A long with being there before, the Marauders are coming off a successful trip.
A year ago, they finished 11th with 16 points, with a best event finish of third by the 4×400 relay group of George Burhenn, Tre Jones, Tristan Trevino and Andres Langston. All four are back.
They’re school record holders and are seeded third (3:19.87) for today’s final race.
Burhenn is back for both the 110 high hurdles (14.31 seconds) and 300 intermediates (38.74 seconds). He’s seeded second in both. Last year, he placed fifth in the 300.
Langston, who is still just a junior, finished eighth in last year’s 400. He is seeded eighth (48.75 seconds). Trevino was also a state medalist, placing eighth in the 800. That’s his seed spot, also (1:55.16).
Senior Daylon King is the lone returnee from the 3200 relay group.
“They’ve been laser-focused all season long, doing better and performing better,” Clarkson said. “So far, they’ve proved it. In practices, they’ve pushed themselves. They’re focused and not complaining. We’ve had great leadership in that regard. And, in the meets their times keep dropping. I’m hoping for one more big drop (today).”
Greenfield-Central, ranked No. 13, returns all four of its state-qualifying events from 2022 and added four more.
With competitors in eight events, the Cougars have a good mixture of state veterans and newcomers.
“With all of our coaches, we couldn’t take a mid-bus,” Greenfield-Central coach Aaron Smith said of having a larger contingent of Cougars. “We think this is the most we’ve ever had qualify. It’s definitely exciting.
“It’s good to get down here early, especially for our new guys, to run on the track, see where they warmup. When they get there (today) they’ll know where everything is.”
G-C did not score in last year’s meet. Junior high jumper Elliot Ryba was the closest. He finished 10th, one spot away from scoring and receiving a medal.
Griffen Wheeler is back in the 800 and junior Kirk Knecht is a three-time qualifier in the long jump.
Knecht and Aaron Lee are back as one-half of last year’s 4×100 relay team.
The Cougars have added participants in the high hurdles (Cash Looper), shot put (Reese Hill), 1600 (Carter Crouch) and 3200 (Chris Ross).
Ryba, at No. 6 (6-feet, 7-inches), and Wheeler, at No. 5 (1:54.77) are the Cougars highest seeds.
New Palestine’s lone qualifier is pole vaulter Jack Rossell. He’s back for a second time, too, though an injury kept him from competing after pre-event warmups.
IHSAA Boys Track and Field State Finals
Site: Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex, Indiana University, Bloomington
Admission: $15 per person. Children age 24 months and younger admitted free. All tickets will be digital through your mobile phone and may be purchased through GoFan.co. Present your phone purchase at the gate for admission.
Order of Events (area competitors)
3 p.m. – Pole vault (Jack Rossell, New Palestine)
3 p.m. – Long jump (Kirk Knecht, Greenfield-Central)
3 p.m. – Discus
3:30 p.m. – High jump (Elliot Ryba, Greenfield-Central)
3:30 p.m. – Shot put (Reese Hill, Greenfield-Central)
4:15 p.m. – 3200-meter relay finals (Cooper Hunziker, Colin Strachman, Caden Cassada, Daylon King, Mt. Vernon)
5 p.m. – 100 dash trials
5:15 p.m. – 110 high hurdles trials (George Burhenn, Mt. Vernon, Cash Looper, Greenfield-Central)
5:40 p.m. – 200 dash trials
6:10 p.m. – Opening ceremonies
6:15 p.m. – 110 high hurdles
6:25 p.m. – 100 dash
6:35 p.m. – 1600 run (Carter Crouch, Greenfield-Central)
6:45 p.m. – 400 relay (Ian Jack, Aaron Lee, Austin Kincer, Knecht, Greenfield-Central)
7:05 p.m. – 400 dash (Andres Langston, Mt. Vernon)
7:20 p.m. – 300 hurdles (Burhenn)
7:45 p.m. – 800 run (Griffen Wheeler, Greenfield-Central; Tristan Trevino, Mt. Vernon)
8:05 p.m. – 200 dash
8:15 p.m. – 3200 run (Chris Ross, Greenfield-Central)
8:30 p.m. – 1600 relay (Burhenn, Tre Jones, Trevino, Langston, Mt. Vernon)