By Jason Haddix
For The Herald Bulletin
As the Madison County track tournament is approaching, track teams are scrambling to get an idea of what the talent level is for their teams and then in what events each will participate.
The unusually cool March along with late winter season snow has slowed this process for many of the track programs. By this point in the season, most teams have had a couple tournaments under their belts, but not this year.
By sheer numbers, Anderson looks poised to have a strong showing during today’s county meet at Madison-Grant High School. With 56 student-athletes on the roster, the Indians will have the largest contingent of participant in the event that they finished second in last season.
With some returning talent and numbers, coach Tina Bolte has hopes that her Tigers will improve upon last year’s season 2-7 record.
“We have a lot of returning athletes and many newcomers for the boys,” she said. “We have a chance to get some depth going, which is the key to team success in track.”
She will look to Anthony Thomas, a sprinter, and Craig Doty, a jumper, for leadership on her young squad. While, seniors Cordell Neill and Logan Allen are newcomers that Bolte said she believes will have a positive impact on the team.
Depth is evident with seven throwers led by sophomore Derick Jones in the shot put event and junior Hunter Montgomery in the discus.
The Anderson High School boys’ track team hopes to bounce back in 2013 from what coach Cary House called a down year for the Indians.
“We have only been able to practice outside one day in March,” House said. “I am not sure what events everybody will be competing in.”
He said he foresees the team getting out of the gate slower than normal this season due to the limited outdoor practice time because of the weather. Typically the Indians have two meets under their belts before welcoming in April, but both events this year had to be canceled.
“We are going to be pretty good,” House said. “It is just how many weeks from now are we going to be pretty good.”
The Indians strength this season is in their numbers, the third year coach said. With 56 student-athletes on the roster, it is far and away the largest pool a coach has to choose from in the area.
House is going to look at senior Matt Harder, who will likely run the 400-meter as well as be a member of the 4X400-meter relay team, as a leader for the runners. While in field events he will turn to senior thrower Coby Dungger to set the tone.
After taking two years off from track, House said senior speedster Marc Andrews should make an impact on the 2013 Indians.
Anderson Preparatory Academy
Last season was the first for the Anderson Preparatory Academy (APA) boys track team and coach Ryan Fathauer hopes to build on what he said was a respectable season for his up-start Jets.
The Jets roster has grown to 26 student-athletes, as many from last year’s team will return to the track this season.
“We have pretty much everybody coming back from last year,” Fathauer said. “I feel pretty confident we can compete pretty well in the county.”
The team’s top two sprinters, Tyler Smith-Johnson and De’ Andre Patterson, return for the Jets and will help set the tone for the other runners. They, along with distance runners, Tyler and Terrell Barnes will be looked at as team leaders to help grow the young program.
Two other Jet runners that Fathauer noted to watch were, Leo Harris (400 meter and high jump) along with Tony Gillispie (hurdles).
Coach Rod Murray returns for his second stint as the boys track coach at Elwood with a roster of 27 that does not include any seniors.
Junior Sam Mireles, a sprinter, is one of the runners that Murray pointed out as a leader he hopes will set the pace for his young squad.
Murray said that he is pleased with the depth of distance runners he as on the roster. He added that Luis Zomora, Derek Sims, Aaron Haas and Pablo Guajardo should perform well enough to contribute to the overall success of the team.
“We will compete in the sprint and distance events,” Murray said. “We may struggle in the relay events at first since we have not had much time to practice.”
With junior Trevor Holliday and sophomore Alex Mireles returning as the teams leading throwers, Murray said he looks for them to excel in the discus and shot put events.
Experience proved big for the Lapel boy’s track team last season as they ran to a 32-11 record. This season though, is likely to be a challenge for the Bulldogs as coach Chris Blessing looks for some leaders to step up. But that task has been slowed by Mother Nature’s desire to prolong winter.
“With the weather being like it is was, we have not had a chance to get outside and really see what I have in what events,” Blessing said. “We graduated 12 seniors, so we have a lot of inexperience and have a lot of holes to fill.”
Blessing said he is going rely on juniors Dalton Busch and Bailey Partington along with Noah Hendershot to set the tone for the Bulldogs.
“We are probably going to struggle” Blessing, who is in his 14th season as Lapel’s coach, said. “The last six years, in the county and sectional, we have finished ahead of most in the county except the larger schools, but will probably fall back to the middle of the pack this year.
With 31 runners competing to shine for Lapel, Blessing said the Bulldogs look to be strongest in the 400- and 800-meter events.
Liberty Christian’s track program is in its third year. The program has grown in each year—from nine students in the year one to 13 last year and this season there are 28 student-athletes (11 girls and 17 boys).
Second year coach Paul Jessup said he is pleased with the process he has seen in his team in such a short amount of time. He admits that the smaller roster size will hinder his team in putting up high marks in the overall standing of bigger events.
“As a team, I am not sure we have enough kids to be able to compete as a team,” he said. “But, I honestly think we have about a half a dozen kids that can make some noise around the county.”
A pair of juniors will set help set the tone for the young Lion squad. Dallas Smith looks to build off of a successful cross country season in distance events while DeSean Gibbs is sprinter that Jessup said could have a standout year.
Coach Adam Long said last season his team was hampered by injuries to some key runners, which resulted him not being able to fill all relay positions. That is not the case as the Argylls’ roster consists of 19 athletes.
“I am looking forward to a decent season,” Long said. “I am glad that we have a full team. That plays a key role in scoring points”
Sophomore sprinter Matt Pattison should give give the Argylls a boost early in meets. The transfer from Mississinewa held the school record there in the 100-meter dash. Another newcomer is freshman Bryce Stansberry, who Long hopes will provide a boost in points for the distance events.
Seniors Paul McGuire (distance) and Zac Douglas (thrower) along with returning sophomores Aaron Patten (distance) and Brian Carter (sprinter) will be viewed as leaders for the inexperienced freshmen to follow.
“I am really stressing to the guys that if we get seconds and thirds, those points pay off,” Long said. “When you are running guys in multiple events it is hard to win everything.”
Last season was a bit of a struggle for the Shenandoah boys’ track team as high jumper Trevor Conner being the lone Raider to advance to the regional track meet.
Coach Scott Widner will look to a group of juniors to set the tone as leaders for his young squad. Joining Conner in that group are sprinters Chandler Hale and Clint Nation and distance runner Kyle Demick
Widner said he hopes sophomores Stephen Marshall (sprinter) and Zach Farmer (hurdles) will continue to build on the experience they gained last season.
“Hopefully we will focus on improving each time we go out,” Winder said. “I think the kids will respond and work a little bit harder this season to do what they can do to improve.”
Freshman Bobby Pierce along with Dillon Kelly and J.J. Myers will join senior Chuck Weir as a group of newcomers to the team that Widner said can have an immediate impact of the team this season.