Youthful Dragons preparing for 2024 season

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NEW PALESTINE — With most of last year’s top scorers in the team’s bigger meets graduated, the New Palestine boys track and field program will have some new names leading the way in 2024.

Top pole vaulters Sage Halter and two-time state qualifier Jack Rossell have graduated along with sectional champion hurdler James O’Dell, sprinter Isaiah Thacker, top relay racers Cody Crawmer and Connor Lapenta and big-meet scorers Isaac Poetz and Eian Roudebush.

“It’s a pretty young team. We have a lot of new faces, not necessarily a lot of freshmen, but a lot of new people to the team,” head coach Eric Branch.

Branch said the addition of some student-athletes from the school’s successful football program could lead to some depth and success in both sprinting events and throws.

Senior David Pack, junior Dylan Dragoo and sophomore Colton Spears, are the top returning sprinters, but the coach believes football veterans — though only sophomores — Caden Jacobia, Connor Jacobia, Desmond Palmer and Cameron Rollyson will strengthen the group.

Pack was part of a pair of scoring relay teams at both the Hoosier Heritage Conference meet and Greenfield-Central Sectional. Dragoo scored in the 400-meter dash at county, conference and sectional and was also part of a strong sprint relay team with Spears, who also placed in the conference and county meet in the high jump.

Spears cleared 5-feet, 10-inches in the high jump in a recent indoor meet, placing fifth among the competition.

Junior Eli Wasson is another strong addition for sprints and jumps.

Talented football lineman Brock Brownfield, who was a strong performer a year ago for the track and field team, too, will lead the group of throwers.

The Dragons will miss Halter and Rossell in the pole vault, but junior Quinn Crawmer has also experienced some success. He was third in last year’s county meet.

New Palestine distance group has some strong returnees.

Senior Danny Davis and junior Gavin Smith were part of a 3200-meter relay team that finished second at the sectional.

Jake Cooper, coming off a strong cross country season, and Charlie Rigsbee are other top distance runners.

Smith, Pack, Davis and Cooper were second in recent indoor distance medley relay race with a time of 11:05.16. They are hoping to cut some time off in a last-chance meet to qualify for the upcoming indoor state finals on March 23.

Paxton Holmes, a sophomore hurdler last year, will lead a young group in the event that includes a sophomore newcomer with potential in Will Bardonner.

A year ago, the Dragons placed third at county, fourth in the HHC and fifth at the sectional.

The team is wrapping up indoor season this month and opens the outdoor portion of the schedule April 4 with a home meet with Shelbyville and Greenfield-Central.

2024 New Palestine Boys Track and Field Schedule

Date;Opponent;Time

April 4;vs. Greenfield-Central/Shelbyville;5:30 p.m.

April 6;at Bishop Chatard Invitational;11 a.m.

April 9;at Southport/Rushville;5:30 p.m.

April 11;at Greenwood/Perry Meridian;5:30 p.m.

April 16;vs. Lawrence Central;5:30 p.m.

April 18;at Pendleton Heights;5 p.m.

April 26;at Zionsville Invitational;5:30 p.m.

May 1;County Meet (at MV);5 p.m.

May 9;HHC Meet (at MV);5:30 p.m.

May 16;at Greenfield-Central Sectional;5:30 p.m.