By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Kurt Talbert and his Pendleton Heights baseball teammates are on a mission this spring.
If the Arabians can emerge victorious from a highly competitive Class 4A Sectional 9 field, Talbert will go down in school history.
The 2013 boys winner of the Johnny Wilson Award already has been a part of sectional titles in football and basketball. No athlete ever has won postseason crowns in those two sports and baseball at Pendleton Heights.
“We want it real badly,” Talbert said Wednesday during the sixth annual Wilson banquet at Anderson Country Club.
The 6-foot-4 senior made his name initially as a wide receiver for the Arabians football team. He was a part of Pendleton Heights’ first two sectional championships in the sport, and he led the team with 24 catches for 540 yards and seven touchdowns this fall.
For good measure, Talbert added 60 tackles, three interceptions, a sack and five passes defensed as a defensive back.
He also was part of the last two of the Arabians’ back-to-back-to-back basketball championships, despite not playing the sport in ninth or 10th grade.
After contributing off the bench as a junior for a team that finished 23-3 and was ranked No. 2 in the final Class 4A media poll, Talbert was second in scoring for a 15-10 team with 12.4 points per game this season. He also was the Arabians’ leading rebounder with six boards per game.
He decided to return to the hardwood after a two-year hiatus at the behest of his friends. Pendleton Heights had lost post player Ryan Albers to graduation after making a run to the regional championship game in the spring of 2011, and the Arabians suddenly had thin depth in the paint.
Talbert agreed to come out and give a hand. Two years later, he was a vital cog in a third straight sectional championship.
“Basically, I felt like the team needed me,” he said. “They needed a little help that year in the post. I had several friends on the team, and it was a lot of fun playing with them. Plus, I made a lot of new friends.”
Despite his success in the fall and winter, it’s baseball that holds the key to Talbert’s heart.
He entered play Wednesday with a .320 batting average and 10 RBIs for the Arabians, who were 13-3 overall and 8-1 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference. Talbert’s deceptive speed, all-around athleticism and long limbs also have helped him become one of the best defensive center fielders in The Herald Bulletin coverage area.
He hasn’t made up his mind yet on his future, but he’s leaning toward playing baseball for head coach Rich Maloney at Ball State.
“He’s a natural athlete,” Pendleton Heights athletic director and head football coach John Broughton said. “He’s always been there (at Pendleton Heights athletic events growing up). You could tell he was one of those kids who was kind of dreaming of the day he would be in high school himself.”
Talbert’s older sister was a manager for Broughton’s football team, and he remembers the boy attending practices and staring in rapt attention at the players’ every move.
Broughton also remembers the glowing smile on Talbert’s face when he finally got to pull on a varsity helmet for himself.
“He’s a fine young man,” Broughton said. “I remember him as a little guy looking up to and idolizing the big kids who were playing. I’ve watched him grow up, and he’s done a great job in all three sports.”