FORTVILLE — After a pair of all-state runs in the 400-meter dash at the IHSAA Boys Track and Field State Finals, it may have seemed a given that Andres Langston would return to the event with the expectations of a similar or better performance during his senior season at Mt. Vernon High School.

Langston had finished eighth in the event as a sophomore and repeated that performance with an eighth-place finish as a junior.

In addition, Langston — as a sophomore and junior — was an all-state runner with teammates George Burhenn, Tre Jones and Tristan Trevino in the 4×400 relay. He also added 110-high hurdles as a state qualifying event in 2023.

When 2024 came along head coach Nick Clarkson, though Langston had proven he was one of the state’s top runners in the 400, thought it was time for a change.

With another strong field expected in the 400, Clarkson thought this year’s Hancock County Track (Running Events) Athlete of the Year, would be better suited to compete in the 300-meter low hurdles as his primary event.

Langston had the endurance from running the 400 and the skills from competing in the high hurdles.

“At first I was trying to talk (coach Clarkson) out of it,” Langston said. “I was trying to go back-and-forth with him but at the end of the day we came to the conclusion that this was for my future in college.

“A lot of people can do the 400 but a lot of people can’t do the 300 hurdles well. He felt I could place higher on the podium and that encouraged me to accept the change to the 300 hurdles.”

It couldn’t have worked out much better.

Langston won the event nearly every time he stepped on the track, set a school record in the event (37.73 seconds) and won championships at the county, conference, sectional and regional levels. He finished runner-up in the state to Fishers’ Tyler Tarter, who swept both the high and low hurdle races.

Langston ran a 38.2 in the state finals. Tarter won at 37.25.

“I wasn’t disappointed at all,” Langston said of falling one spot short of a state title. “I knew who I was up against. It came down to experience. It was my first year focusing on the 300 hurdles instead of the 400 and second is the best I’ve ever placed at state, so I was very happy with that. I wasn’t disappointed at all.”

Even with his ability in a similar distance and at hurdles, it took Langston a few meets to get used to his new event.

The biggest problem was getting his steps right.

He had problems with stutter-stepping until he was able to smoothly go his 13 steps in between each hurdle.

“I love running it now,” Langston, who will be a 400-meter hurdler at Duke University next school year, said. “At the beginning I didn’t. I didn’t know my steps since it was my first year. I kept stutter-stepping and it made me super-mad. I knew I could go faster but it was just my steps.”

In an April 15 dual meet at Fishers, Langston said he finally was able to get his steps right. At that point, he knew it was going to be a season with great potential

“(I) executed the race perfectly and didn’t stutter at all.” he said of the dual at Fishers. “I did 13 steps and ran a 37.9, before my best was 40.1. That meet was the eye-opener. I was super-excited because I knew I could run faster, which I did.”

The 300 was Langston’s primary event, but it wasn’t the only one he starred in.

He qualified for the state finals in four events, adding the 4×400 relay, 110-meter hurdles and high jump to his schedule at this year’s state meet held in Bloomington.

He added an event to his list in each of his high school years.

As a freshman, he qualified with teammates for the 4×400 relay. As a sophomore, he finished eighth in the 400 and third with Burhenn, Jones and Trevino in the 4×4. As a junior, he added the high hurdles to the mix. The same relay quartet placed fourth. This year he switched out the 400 for the 300 hurdles and added the high jump to go with the relay and high hurdles.

This year’s 4×400 group placed 10th. He placed 13th in the high hurdles and 26th in the high jump.

He holds school records in five events, including the indoor and outdoor records in the high jump at 6-feet, 5-inches. The junior-year relay team set the school record at 3:17.57. Along with his 37.73 in the low hurdles, he still owns the school’s best time in the 400 at 48.52, set his junior year at the state meet.

Along with track and field, Langston was also part of the school’s band. With all of his extracurricular activities, he was able to keep a 3.913 grade-point average. He plans on majoring in Political Science and minoring in Finance at Duke.

“I was looking for a school that was not only good at athletics but also academics,” Langston said. “I put a lot of value in academics and take it very seriously. I am happy I found a school that has both and a school that is good at balancing academics and athletics.”

Langston chose Duke over Penn, Michigan, North Carolina and Indiana.

He’s eager to make that next move after leaving as one of the best-ever to compete at MVHS.

“Confidence,” Langston said of what he’ll take away from his high school career at Mt. Vernon. “Before this I was not really confident in running. Now that I know that I can compete at a high level, I take away that confidence and time management too. I’ll take away resilience after always doing four events every meet. It made my body flexible and able to bounce back, even when I’m super-tired, and still run very well. I got used to doing that for the past four years.”

2024 Hancock County Spring Sports Honors

Sport;Athlete of the Year;Coach of the Year

Boys volleyball;Eli Martin, New Palestine

Girls track events;Bella Sotelo, Eastern Hancock

Girls field events;Ellie Meyer, Eastern Hancock;Mark Foster, Greenfield-Central

Boys track events;Andres Langston, Mt. Vernon

Boys field events;Coming soon;Coming soon

Girls tennis;Coming soon;Coming soon

Boys golf;Coming soon;Coming soon

Baseball;Coming soon;Coming soon

Softball;Coming soon;Coming soon