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Heading out: Area track crews ready for outdoor season – The Daily Reporter

Runners representing all county schools arrive at the turn of the 200-meter race at the 2021 Hancock County Track and Field Championships at Mt. Vernon High School on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.

Rob Baker | For the daily journalist

HANCOCK COUNTY — Coming off spring break and having late starts due to the success of the school’s basketball team, Bruce Kendall, longtime Mt. Vernon boys’ track and field coach, will not s don’t expect his group to be strong from the start.

Pay attention when the schedule rolls into late April with the playoffs fast approaching.

The Marauders have plenty of runners, pitchers and jumpers from a 2021 team that won Hancock County, Hoosier Heritage Conference and Mt. Vernon Sectional titles.

A number return with experience as qualifiers from last year’s IHSAA State Meet.

The Marauders are also among those with multiple qualifiers for the Hoosier State Relays today in Bloomington, the state finals for the indoor portion of the 2022 season.

Mount Vernon

“I feel like we’re underdogs now and later we’ll announce the good news,” Kendall said of the expectation of having her entire squad available and complete. “It’s just frustrating right now.”

Once everyone can go, Kendall’s Marauders should be pretty good.

Mt. Vernon returns parts of two relay teams as well as sprinter Derrick Marble (100 yards) and pole vaulter Keegan La Belle who competed in the 2021 Outdoor National Finals at Ben Davis.

Sophomores Wilbert Jones and Andres Langston were part of the state’s 4×400 meter relay team, fifth. Senior James Blagrave and junior Daylon King return from the 4×800 meters relay qualifying group.

La Belle, a senior, is one of many Marauders who played on the team’s state championship football team. He was sectional and regional champion in the pole vault and sectional champion in the long jump.

Mt. Vernon returns Section Champions or Finalists in 10 events.

With La Belle, the Marauders come back victorious in the 400 meters (Langston), the 110 meters hurdles (George Burhenn) and had a 1-2 punch in the 100 meters with Marble and Caden Wildey. The winners of the 1,600 (Jones and Langston) and 400 (La Belle, Cameron Parsley, Wildey, Marble) relays return some or all of their foursomes.

King and Blagrave were part of the second place 4×800 relay team. Burhenn added a second place in the 300 low hurdles. Langston finished second to Burhenn in the summits. Parsley finished second in the 200m.

Burhenn narrowly missed out on qualifying for state in both hurdle races, placing third in both Lawrence Central Regional events.

The Marauders should also have a strong ranged group. To go with Blagrave and King, Mt. Vernon has track and cross-country veterans in Austin Rush and Reyce Morgan and Sam Wilson. Rush and newcomer Tristan Trevino were co-Daily Reporter Cross Country Runners of the Year in the fall.

Additional help comes from others who are part of a large group of multi-sport talent in Avery Williams and Darnell Stewart. The two will compete in a relay team at the indoor final today.

Burhenn in the 60 meter hurdles, La Belle in the pole vault and Langston in the high jump will also be in Bloomington today.

New Palestine

The Dragons will have one of the region’s best newcomers in Isaiah Thacker, a transfer from Triton Central High School.

Head coach Eric Branch said Thacker, who started the long jump just a month ago, is already approaching the school record.

Thacker has already covered 21 feet 8 inches, just three inches short of the record set by Brady Walden (21-11) in 2017.

Another junior, Jack Rossell, is also set to get his school record.

A pole vaulter, Rossell, who will compete in the indoor finals today, cleared 13 feet. He’s in a six-way tie for third on the school’s all-time list. Mark Gilpin has held the record since 1980, clearing 14 feet. Chad Clark tied the game in 1999.

Another returning pole vaulter, Sage Halter, is No. 9 on the school’s roster at 12-9.

Seniors Josh Lambdin (discus) and Greg Ratz (shot put) add to a strong Dragons field event team.

Seniors Colin Darley and Jaret Whitaker and junior Connor LaPenta are back to help in the middle distance and distance races.

Madix Johnson, Drew LaPenta and Grayson Thomas join the sprint group with Thacker.

Juniors AJ Reierson, James O’Dell and Daniel Thacker bring their strength to the hurdle races.

“I think we have a little more depth than last year,” Coach Branch said. “We were a very young team and we were discovering the sport for a lot of guys. When it comes to county and conference, we believe we can compete closer to the top. We were fifth in the conference last year and we want to improve on that.

eastern hancock

Eastern Hancock have just four seniors and they are one of the most competitive groups in the program.

Cole Rainbolt, Zach Arnold, Ashton Smith and Houston Swan make up the Royals’ 400-meter relay team. They set a school record a year ago in the low range of 44 seconds.

Not the entire class of 2022 should cross the strip first.

They will also have one of the best freshmen in the county.

In their first outdoor encounter in Knightstown, frosh Preston Markley won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200m races.

Head coach Rex Putt said Markley’s main focus will likely be the 800 and 1600.

Junior Kain Sotelo is expected to do well in the high jump and hurdles, while Arnold and Rainbolt lead the program’s sprint group.

Junior Graham Hicks is the most veteran of a young group of pitchers.

Eastern Hancock has a young team with eight of its 20 freshman class members.

“We have work to do, but I think by the end of the year we could develop some of these young kids,” coach Rex Putt said. “I’m optimistic about fighting for a (Middle East) Conference championship. This is our goal. At the county level we have a few individuals, but as a team it’s hard to compete with Mt. Vernon, New Pal and Greenfield.

Greenfield Center

The Cougars are returning one of the area’s top young talents in sophomore Kirk Knecht.

As a freshman, Knecht qualified for the state competition in the long jump. He finished 18th with a distance of 20-11.25. He was a section finalist and third regional of the event.

He was section champion in the 200 meters.

Another key returnee is Griffen Wheeler. He leads a strong distance group and is coming off a strong fall cross-country season.

In the 1,600 meter race last postseason, Wheeler placed third in the section and sixth in the regional.

He and Knecht will compete today at the National Indoor Championships.

Wheeler will compete in the 3,200 meter race. Knecht is in the long jump competition.