Columbus North had its strongest showing ever last season with a third-place team finish at the Boys Track and Field State Finals.
The Bull Dogs lost some big pieces from that team, but still will look to be competitive, led by a strong distance cast.
Here is a look at North and the other area teams heading into the 2023 season:
The Bull Dogs lost two-time state shot put champion and two-time Gatorade Indiana Track and Field Player of the Year Tucker Smith, along with Reese Kilbarger-Stumpff and Matt Newell from the state champion 4×800-meter relay team, but return a healthy crew of distance runners that will look to score at state this season.
Seniors Clayton Guthrie (who has committed to Indiana University) and Mateo Mendez (Louisville) return from the 4×800 relay team, and senior Will Russell (Xavier) was a state qualifier in the 3,200. Senior Kellen Hottell (Murray State) ran on the 4×800 team for part of the season and is battling for a spot there this year, along with senior Adler Larson and sophomore Neal White.
“We know our distance will be really strong, and our relays will be really strong,” North coach Rick Sluder said. “Our hurdles should be improved. I think we’ll be a deeper team than we were last year, which will help us in some of our bigger meets.”
Seniors Alex Narvaez and Nathan Imlay and sophomore Foster Long return in the sprints, and sophomores Liam Milne and Owen Russell are back in the hurdles and also could do the sprint events. Seniors Liam Phillips and Max Mormino return in the pole vault, senior Kok Kao Yee is back in the shot and discus and senior Nathan Palmer is the top high jumper.
“We’re going to be really experienced in some areas and really young in other areas,” Sluder said. “There are a lot of younger guys bouncing around in some of those events.”
Columbus East’s Ethan Duncan competes in the 200 meters April 21, 2022, at Columbus East High School.
The Republic file photo
The Olympians will have a smaller team than usual this year.
“This year, we’re a little thin,” East coach Jerone Wood said. “We don’t have as many guys as we’ve had in previous years. Since we’re so thin, we’re trying to figure out where to put guys. We’re really just trying to put the pieces together.”
Senior Ethan Duncan was a member of the Olympians’ state-qualifying 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams as a sophomore, but missed most of last season with a hamstring injury. After running mostly the 100 and 200 the past couple years, he may bump up to the 400 this season.
Seniors Jacob Guse in the throws and Enrique Carvalho in the hurdles were regional qualifiers last season. Senior Tommy Anderson returns in the 400, juniors Rendon Scott and Gabe Baca are back in the sprints and sophomore Jackson Brookes is the top distance runner.
Senior transfer Brayden Isbill will run the hurdlers and 400. A promising pair of football players in sophomores Dax Siegmana and Cam Herron came out for track this year and will compete in the sprints and jumps.
“Our goal is to get to state,” Wood said. “I think we have a pretty good chance with our 4×400 team, and a goal for me and Ethan this year is to get him to state in the 400. He wants to attack that race this year. He wasn’t healthy last year. He had a pulled hamstring, but I think he has a pretty good shot this year.”
The Jets took a step forward with a pair of regional qualfiers last season and will look to continue that momentum this spring.
One of those regional qualifiers returns in senior Cameron Toole in 400. Toole also is the team’s top long jumper.
Senior Alex Bower is back in the long jump and high jump and plans to continue his career at Hanover next year. Junior Lakota Robbins also returns in the long jump and sprints.
Junior Colin Kistler was the Mid-Hoosier Conference champion in the 1,600 and is joined in the distance events by freshmen Nolan Dailey and Mason Moore. Sophomore Luke Bruner and juniors Kale Schwartzkopf and Will Walters return in the throws.
Three basketball players — sophomores Ledger Gelfius and Taeshaun Tungate and junior Taylen Absher — are out for track for the first time.
“We haven’t had a lot of time to work with them yet, but they’re versatile athletes and bring speed and athletic ability along with them,” Hauser coach Ben Finke said.
The Panthers will have one of their largest teams ever with 68 boys as they look to defend their Bedford North Lawrence Sectional title.
“We have a lot of new faces and a lot of kids that I don’t know what I’m going to get yet,” Jennings coach Justin Smith said. “We have pretty nice depth all around the track. I don’t know if we’ve ever had this much sprint depth.”
Senior Evan Sochacki was a sectional champion in the pole vault, and senior Cole Marksberry and junior Will Barnes were regional qualifiers in the hurdles and junior Blaine Ison was a regional qualifier in 100 and 200. Sophomore Kraedyn Young was a regional qualifier in the 1,600 and ran on the state-qualifying 4×800 relay team, along with seniors Eli Wahlman and Noah McFall.
Other top returners are junior Branden Braun and senior Nate Doty in the sprints and long jump, senior Levi Marsh in the 400, senior Bryson Webster in the throws, senior Jonathan Jones in the pole vault, senior Nathan Davis in the sprints and junior Skyler Lewis in the high jump. Junior Liam Sherwood is back in the 200 and 400 after being injured last year.
Senior Darius Thomas, a key player on the Panthers’ semistate-bound basketball team, is planning to run track for the first time and compete in the high jump and 400. Freshmen Dawson Leak in middle distance and Sam Hernandez in the 200 and 400 could make an immediate impact.
“I’m really excited for our relays this year,” Smith said. “We have a nice group coming back in our 4×100, and our distance group is looking good. Our 4×400 group is coming back with some good kids.”
The Eagles have had a little success at some indoor meets so far this season and have potential qualifiers to the HSR small-school championship in multiple events.
“I’m looking forward to the season,” Brown County coach Kirk Wrightsman said. “I’m optimistic about it. We have some good numbers. ”
Senior Chase Austin was a state qualifier in the 1,600 last season and could run the 3,200 this year. He leads a distance and middle distance crew that includes senior Rafe Silbaugh, juniors Cord Smith and Charlie Webb and sophomores Case Smith and Kai Koester.
Seniors Wyatt Barnett and Wyatt Sutter return in the throws, and junior Jacob Finley is back in the sprints and long jump and senior Garrett Braden is a pole vaulter. Senior sprinter Ethan Spiece could return midseason after recovering from knee surgery from a football injury.
Top newcomers included freshman Ethan Williams in the 400, freshman Eli Wrightsman in middle distance and sophomore Jesse Hubbard in the high jump and possibly 400.
“Where we’re really trying to make some advancements is in the field,” Kirk Wrightsman said. “We didn’t have a lot of depth there last year. We have a lot of depth in the distance, a lot of depth in our throws and it’s just that sprint area and the field events that we need.”
The Cougars will will be seeing their third consecutive MHC title
Junior McKinley Shook was the conference champion in the 110 hurdles. He figures to be among the team leaders, along with seniors Rhett Martin in the sprints and discus, Jack Hamilton in the sprints and Chase Kalli in the middle distance events.
Other top sprinters include Lucas Ballard and Owen Arreola. Senior newcomer Sebastyn Muckerheide in the throws and possibly distance events and German exchange student Bjarne Karsten in the jumps and middle distance could make an impact.
“We’ve pulled back a few runners that didn’t come out last year, and we’ve got some athletes from other sports (football, basketball) that are stepping into track and field for the first time,” said Sariina Kalli, who coaches the girls team and helps out boys coach Dan Wenning. “We don’t have a big freshman group, but they are eager to learn and willing to try a variety of events.”
The Lancers had their first sectional event champion in years last season when freshman Jackson Hartwell won the long jump, but Hartwell is not planning to compete this year.
Edinburgh does return several other athletes, including sophomore distance runner Irving Luis-Orozco in, senior hurdler Enrique Callejas, senior sprinter Braylon Bryant and senior high jumper Blaze Jensen. Other top returners are juniors Austin Brockman, Ethan Campbell and Anduan Chavez and sophomores Brian Callejas and Rylan Londeree.
Sophomores Caleb Murphy, Eli Bryant and Tyler Branigin are the top newcomers.
“Will continue to look to get more students, but will be sharing some athletes with other sports,” Edinburgh coach Amy Schilling said. “We have a solid core for our boys team and look to continue to improve from last year. We hope to do well in conference and make a good showing in the sectional.”
The Cougars will have a small team with only six boys this season.
Sophomore Jake Holland in the hurdles, senior Adam Everroad in the 800, junior Connor Nichols in the 400 and discus and sophomore Will Gausmann in the sprints and discus are the returners. New to the program are freshmen Adam Sutton in the 1,600 and Landon Gasaway in the sprints.
“They’re definitely young, still maturing,” Trinity coach Keith Dyer said. “But they have improved almost daily and definitely weekly with practice.”
The 2023 boys track schedules for Bartholomew County schools:
April 1;Bloomington South;10:30 a.m.
April 4;Seymour;5 p.m.
April 8;at Columbus North Invitational;11a.m.
April 11;Shelbyville;5:30 p.m.
April 13;Jennings County, Brownstown Central;5 p.m.
April 18;at Bloomington North;5:30 p.m.
April 20;at Columbus North;5 p.m.
April 25;at Seymour Invitational;6 p.m.
April 28;at East Central Invitational;5 p.m.
May 2;at Brown County;5 p.m.
May 11;HHC at Floyd Central;6 p.m.
April 4;at Bloomington South;6 p.m.
April 8;Columbus North Invitational;11 a.m.
April 11;BrownCounty;5:30 p.m.
April 14;at Franklin Central Distance Showcase;6 p.m.
April 20;Columbus East;5:30 p.m.
April 22;at Brown County Talon Relays;10:45 a.m.
April 22;at Pike Invitational;11 a.m.
April 28;Conference Indiana at Bloomington North;5:30 p.m.
May 9;Franklin;6 p.m.
March 28;at Jennings County;5:30 p.m.
April 3;Crothersville;5:30 p.m.
April 6;at Morristown (with South Decatur);5:30 p.m.
April 11;at Indianapolis Lutheran;5 p.m.
April 17;Waldron, Triton Central;5 p.m.
April 21;at Edinburgh Lancer Relays;5 p.m.
April 25;at Batesville (with North Decatur, Jac-Cen-Del);5 p.m.
April 28;Indy Genesis;5:30 p.m.
May 4;at Southwestern (Shelby);5 p.m.
May 9;MHC at Waldron;5 p.m.