CHARLOTTESVILLE — An experienced group is expected to make the transition to a new head coach easier for the Eastern Hancock boys track and field team.

In new head coach Josh Steele’s first season with the team, he expects to lean on a talented group of distance runners.

“Distance is going to lead the way with John [Henry Gray] and Preston [Markley] and then we’ve got our senior relay runners,” Steele said. “They’ve been waiting for these moments, and they’re going to step up and hopefully set some records this year.”

On Saturday at the Hoosier State Relays, the Royals got a look at just how good their distance group can be.

The distance medley relay team of Gray, Aaron Redmon, Brandon Metz and Markley finished fourth with a time of 10:51.26.

In last year’s outdoor season, Markley, a junior, was runner-up in both the 1600-meter (4:35.52) and 3200-meter (10:29.52) races at the Mid-Eastern Conference meet and placed ninth in the 3200 at the Mt. Vernon Sectional. Earlier in the season he set the school record in the race with a time of 9:58.93.

Gray, now a senior, was two spots behind Markley in the 3200 at the sectional and was part of the 3200 relay team —along with Markley and Redmon — that placed third and qualified for the regional.

Redmon was also a member of the 1600 relay that placed third at the sectional and 14th at the regional.

“They’ve been very diligent about working over the off-season. They’ve kept their endurance levels up and have been putting in the mileage to get there,” Steele said. “They’re primed and ready to go for a big season.”

Along with the experienced group of distance runners, the Royals add freshman Hayden Jackson to help in events all across the board.

At the middle school level last season, Jackson was the Hancock County champion in the 400-meter and 110-meter hurdles and was the conference champion in those two events along with the long jump. He also holds the Eastern Hancock middle school record in the 200-meter hurdles with a time of 27.31 seconds.

“He’s very coachable and very talented,” Steele said. “He’s going to fill a lot of roles for us.”

Other key returners for the Royals include sophomore Mark Kube and junior John Rodriguez-Lemasters.

Kube was part of the regional qualifying 1600 relay team last season as well as the 400 relay team that placed fourth at the sectional. Individually, he was eighth in the county in the 200 dash.

Rodriguez-Lemasters was the Royals top hurdler last season. He was fifth in the high hurdles at the sectional and seventh in the low hurdles.

Along with them, sophomores Elijah Edon and Eli Manship are expected to help add points in various events.

“We’ve got some youth but people that are definitely ready to step up and provide some points for us in some of these meets,” Steele said.

The Royals opened the season last night at Tri-Central. Their next meet is scheduled for April 9 at New Castle.

2024 Eastern Hancock Girls Track and Field Schedule


March 26;at Tri-Central;4:30 p.m.

April 9;at New Castle/Greenfield-Central/Scecina;5:30 p.m.

April 11;at Centerville/Union County;5 p.m.

April 17;at North Decatur/South Decatur;5 p.m.

April 20;at Guerin Catholic Invite;10 a.m.

April 23;vs. Richmond;6 p.m.

April 25;Eastern Hancock Invitational;5:30 p.m.

May 1;at Hancock Co. Meet (Mt. Vernon);5 p.m.

May 7;vs. Triton Central;5 p.m.

May 10;Mid-Eastern Conference Meet;5 p.m.

May 16;at Mt. Vernon Sectional;5:30 p.m.