Columbus North will try to defend its sectional boys track championship this season, while other area schools will look to improve. The season begins Saturday when Columbus East hosts Bloomington South.
Here is a look at those and other area boys track teams:
The Bull Dogs return a pair of state qualifiers after finishing third in Conference Indiana and winning the North Sectional.
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"I think we have a shot to be pretty good again," North coach Lou Sipe said. "We have a lot returning, and the guys have worked really hard."
Senior Sam Horak rinished 24th at state in the 1,600 meters. Sophomore Preston Terrell also was a state qualifier in the high jump and a regional qualifier in the long jump.
Other returning regional qualifiers include senior Hunter Spalding in the 200, senior John Sluys in the 3,200, junior Ben Malone in the 110 hurdles and senior Noah Kestler in the 300 hurdles and 4×400 relay. Spalding, Malone and junior Daveed Jolley are back from the regional-qualifying 4×100 relay team.
Senior Rishi Poludasu had a big cross-country season and could make an impact in the distance events, along with junior Carson Littrell. Other top returners include sophomore J.J. Montgomery in the shot put and discus, senior Eli Heichelbech in the discus, junior Felix Lawson in the 300 hurdles, senior Luke Riley in the sprints and long jump and sophomore Austin Pulowski in middle distance.
The Bull Dogs have added a promising freshman in thrower Tucker Smith. Smith finished sixth in the big school division of Saturday’s Hoosier State Relays, the unofficial state indoor meet.
Freshmen Matt Newell, Evan Carr and Reese Kilbarger-Stumpff all ran varsity on the cross-country team that finished sixth at state. Freshman Qwenton Bolden could help in the sprints.
"I feel like we’re pretty balanced," Sipe said. "I think we’re going to be OK sprint-wise. Obviously, we have to find somebody for the pole vault."
The Olympians will look to improve on a fourth-place finish in the Hoosier Hills Conference and a sixth in the North Sectional.
Sophomore Crase Bergman was the sectional champion and regional qualifier in the long jump. Bergman and junior Owen Rupp return from the regional-qualifying 4×400 relay team.
"He’s very versatile," East coach Scott Pherson said of Bergman. "We can put him in a lot of events, and he’s going to score for us."
Seniors Isaac VanCuren and Garrett McGaha, junior Seth Chandler and sophomore Malachi Parks are back from the regional-qualifying 4×800 relay team. McGaha was a semistate qualifier in cross-country.
Senior Cody Horner was on track to qualify for state in the 100 last year, but false-started in the sectional final. Junior Lance Greiwe and sophomore Mark McDonald also return in the sprints and long jump.
Other top returners include Rupp in the hurdles, senior Jared Baker in the pole vault, junior Zander Gentry and Tyler Settle and sophomore Elliott Koopman in the high jump, junior Kaalob Schmidt in shot and junior Bailey Harden in the discus.
Looking to make an immediate impact are freshmen Anthony Lloyd in the sprints and jumps, Garrett Simpson in the hurdles, Trevor Kennedy in the sprints, Tristan Statler in the pole vault and Ashton Hartwell in the throws.
"Track may be an individual sport, but our strength will be the team," Pherson said. "I feel like if we run as a team, and we run for the team, we’re going to be better, whether it’s sprint, distance, hurdling, jumping or throwing. We want to be a team, and that is our biggest focus this year — bringing us together as a solid team."
The Jets will hope for a big year from junior John Bragg, who qualified for the Hoosier State Relays small school division in the high jump.
Bragg also is the top long jumper for a Hauser team that finished third in the Mid-Hoosier Conference and 10th in the North Sectional last season. Senior Joe Hunter also returns in the sprints and long jump.
Also returning are sophomore Ryan Ault in the distance events, sophomore Brock Thalls in middle distance, sophomore Isaiah McDaniel in the jumps and senior Tyler Moore in the throws
The Jets have added a pair of exchange students in Latvian Emils Vigants in the sprints and Czech Republic native Adam Koller in the distance events. Freshman Aleck Lopez will add depth in the sprints and long jump.
"Numbers are pretty good," Hauser coach Ben Finke said. "We’re building on what we did last year. If we keep improving, I think we’ll be quite a bit better."
The Panthers made a dramatic turnaround after finishing eighth in the HCC when they captured the Bedford North Lawrence Sectional title.
Juniors A.J. Siener in the 1,600 and Carter Leak in the 3,200 were regional qualifiers. Juniors Jared Corya and Levi Peacock return from the regional-qualyfing 4×100 relay team, and junior Jason Gasper is back from the regional-qualifying 4×800 relay squad.
Siener, Leak, Gasper, freshman Lane Elsner, senior Alex Hendrix, sophomore Gavin Hendrix and sophomore Drew Stroud were on the state-qualifying cross-country team in the fall. Alex Hendrix will run the 110 hurdles and long Jump, while Elsner, will run the 400 as well as the middle distance or distance events.
"Our strength this season will again be in the distance events," Jennings coach Bill Ludwig said.
Peacock, Alex Hendrix and senior Brooks Wathen return in the hurdles, although Wathen will switch to the sprints this season after having knee surgery.
Senior Dylan Carney returns in the pole vault, where he will be joined by Skyler Garris, who was injured last year. Garris and sophomores Logan Strickland and Nathan Streight are competing for varsity spots in the sprints, while seniors Jon Kipper and Blake Mitchell are battling for varsity spots in the throws with sophomores Zane Ortlieb, Caleb Boccia and Max Brown and junior Jake Coffman.
Half of the Eagles’ 4×800 relay team that finished sixth at state returns this season in seniors Jackson McPheeters and Marino Dolph.
McPheeters also was a state qualifier in the 800, and Dolph was a regional qualifier in the 3,200. McPheeters and senior Dale Phelps ran on the regional-qualifying 4×400 relay team.
Senior Layton Mosier in the throws also returns from a team that finished third in the Western Indiana Conference and fifth in the Bloomington North Sectional. Phelps the team’s top hurdler.
Sophomores Aidan Burt and Cameron Fox and senior Jason Stratton could battle for the other two spots on the 4×800 and 4×400 relay teams. Freshman Cody Walsh could contribute in the sprints and jumps.
"We’re not huge," Brown County coach Kirk Wrightsman said. "We don’t have a lot of room for injuries. I think we have a lot of different ways we can go with people. We just don’t have a lot of depth."
Paul May, a Bedford native who threw shot and hammer at Bethel College, takes over a Cougars program. that finished fifth in the MHC and 12th in the East Central Sectional last season.
Senior Trent Nobbe was a regional qualifier in the 110 hurdles and also runs the 300 hurdles. Other top returners are sophomores Colton Johannigman and Jeremy Watts in the sprints, juniors Conner Bower and Logan Platt in the middle distance and distance events and junior Jacobi Shook in the throws.
Nobbe is the team’s lone senior, but South Decatur has added five new sophomores and 12 freshmen.
"We’re excited about the numbers because we have more kids this year than they had last year," May said. "It looks like we’ll be able to field all the events."
The Lancers have a new coach in Alex Jackson, who is a former track athlete at Greenwood and track and cross-country coach at West Vigo Middle School.
No athletes return from a team that finished seventh in the MHC and did not score in the North Sectional last season. Junior sprinter Anthony Noe ran as a freshman, but not last year.
The other six athletes on this year’s squad are freshmen. Leading that group are Seth Holland and Parker Young in the sprints and middle distance, Travis Vidal in middle distance and Conner Douglass in the throws.
"As far as the people that have been committed to it, they’ve done a great job," Jackson said. "I’ve given them all personal goals to attain."
The Cougars can only go up after an 11th-place finish in the Bedford North Lawrence Sectional.
Senior AJ Goecker was a regional qualifier in 800 and will focus on 3,200 this year. Senior Riley Bartels and juniors Chris Mau, Josh Rowe and Michael Claycamp will comprise a deep cast in the throws.
junior Caleb Baumgartel and freshman Micah Baumgartel will compete in the long jump, high jump and sprints. Senior newcomer Ricky Castro will run the 400.
"We have a little more depth this year in different events, so that will help a lot," Trinity coach Caleb Tormoehlen said. "In the past, we’ve been sprint-heavy or distance-heavy. We have a nice mixture of guys this year."
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Boys track schedules for Bartholomew County teams:
Saturday;Bloomington Southl10:30 a.m.
April 6;at Columbus North Invitational;11 a.m.
April 9;Shelbyville;5:30 p.m.
April 11;at Jennings County (with Brownstown Central);5 p.m.
April 16;at Bloomington North;5:30 p.m.
April 18;at Columbus North;5 p.m.
April 23;at Seymour Invitational;6 p.m.
April 20;at Brown County;5 p.m.
May 9;HHC at Jennings County;6 p.m.
Tuesday;at Bloomington South;6 p.m.
April 6;Columbus North Invitational;11 a.m.
April 9;at Seymour;5:30 p.m.
April 12;at Franklin Central Showcase;6 p.m.
April 13;Midwest Prep at Lawrence Central;11 a.m.
April 18;Columbus East;5 p.m.
April 20;at Brown County Talon Relays;10:45 a.m.
April 23;at East Central (with Shelbyville);5:30 p.m.
April 26;Conference Indiana at Bloomington Northl5 p.m.
May 3;at Martinsville Koontz Relays;6 p.m.
May 8;Franklin;5 p.m.
Monday;at Trinity Lutheran (with Crothersville);4:45 p.m.
April 5;at Triton Central Invitational;5 p.m.
April 9;at Indianapolis Lutheran Invitational;5 p.m.
April 12;Indianapolis Scecina/Fortune Academy;5:30 p.m.
April 15;Waldron/Triton Central;5 p.m.
April 23;at Batesville (with North Decatur and Jac-Cen-Del);5 p.m.
April 25;at Eastern Hancock Invitational
April 30;Indy Genesis United;5:30 p.m.
May 2;at Indian Creek (with Brown County and Southwestern);5 p.m.
May 7;Mid-Hoosier Conference at Waldron;5 p.m.