By GREG MENGELT
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
A year ago, Silver Creek thought it had a chance to end Jeffersonville’s 40-year run as sectional champions before injuries derailed its bid.
Led by their talented distance crew, the Dragons may have an even better shot in 2014. Creek has six distance runners that could help end the state’s longest sectional streak.
“Silver Creek has been fortunate to have had a good tradition in turning out distance runners,” said Dragons coach Darrell Kingery, who is entering his fourth year at Creek and his 39th overall as a head track coach. “Our distance crew, boys and girls, have had a great winter of training even though the weather has been terrible. Our motto has been, when [the weather is] too bad for everyone else, it is just right for us.”
A year ago, the Dragons’ distance runners had a great sectional. Sophomores Morgan Davidson and Tanner Coots finished second and third in the 800, respectively, and Isaak Haas won the 1,600 and 3,200 championships.
Haas has moved on to college, but the Dragons have replenished in the distance events. Sophomore Andrew Westfall should excel in the 1,600 and the 3,200, while freshmen Matthew Bottorff, Boone Barton and Cameron Stephens will fight for varsity spots.
“Right now, they are running times in practice that amaze even me,” Kingery said of his distance crew. “Most of my distance runners know what they need to do to continue to be successful, and the gratifying thing for me is that I don’t even need to be there for them to do it. They show up and do it, even if there is snow, rain or whatever else mother nature throws at them.”
The distance runners won’t be alone in their quest to knock off the Red Devils. If healthy, the Dragons will have one of the sectional’s top sprinters and jumpers in Bobby Haines, arguably its best thrower in Schuyler Hosp and standout hurdlers in Cole Williams and Clarksville transfer Josh Grady.
“The nice thing about the team is we cover all the bases,” Kingery said. “In a lot of events, we have two. If you’re going to be Jeff, you have to have two.”
So, do the Dragons have a legitimate shot at ending Jeff’s incredible streak?
“I don’t know,” Kingery admitted. “They’ve won 40-something in a row and they have a lot of weapons. But that’s always our goal. If it happens, it happens. That’s what we’re working for. Hopefully we’ll be right there.”
AREA BOYS' TRACK TEAMS
COACH: Liz Carmony (fifth year at Borden).
2013 SECTIONAL FINISH: Runner-up.
2013 SAC FINISH: Champions.
KEY RETURNING ATHLETES: Brett Williams (Jr., throws); Julien Magallanes (So., distance); Nathen Magallanes (Sr., distance); George Tipker (Sr., distance); Brady Knight (Sr., sprints); Gavin Tipker (Jr., middle distance); Jared Rafferty (Sr., pole vault); Brian McGee (Sr., hurdles).
KEY NEWCOMERS: Drew McKinley (Fr., distance).
OUTLOOK: With Williams back after a state finals run and the area’s best group of distance runners, Borden should easily repeat as Southern Athletic Conference champions. Last year, the Braves set a school mark with a second-place finish at the Floyd Central Sectional. With the talent Carmony has returning, a repeat of that is certainly a possibility.
COACH CARMONY SAYS: “This year will be an interesting one. We are down in numbers, but I still think our talent is strong enough to bring us success. I look forward to seeing how our boys handle their duties and how hard they push each other.”
COACH: Lane Oxley (13th season at Floyd)
2013 SECTIONAL FINISH: Champions.
2013 HHC FINISH: Champions.
KEY RETURNING ATHLETES: Jacob Marguet (Sr., pole vault); Grant Foster (Sr., hurdles); Chase Blakeman (Jr., hurdles); Adam Wallace (Jr., middle distance); Gaige Klingsmith (Jr., sprints); Seth Jenkins (Sr., sprints); Nick Uhl (Sr., sprints); Zack Lewis (Sr., sprints); Logan Vaughn (Sr., long jump); Reese Tarr (Sr., middle distance).
KEY NEWCOMERS: Antonio Villegas (Fr., long jump/high jump).
OUTLOOK: The Highlanders will have to fill the void left by distance state champion Codie Hamsley, but they have three returning sectional champions and two more state finalists returning. At this point, it would be a surprise if the Highlanders don’t repeat as conference and sectional champions.
COACH OXLEY SAYS: “We have a good core group of seniors that have provided excellent leadership throughout the preseason. Our goals are the same every year: Win HHC, win sectional and win regional. Hopefully we get a step closer [to winning regional] this year.”
COACH: Kyle Lewis (fifth season at Henryvile).
2013 SECTIONAL FINISH: Eighth.
2013 SAC FINISH: Fourth.
KEY RETURNING ATHLETES: Jacob Hedrick (Jr., distance).
OUTLOOK: With a pair of runner-up finishes at sectional last season, Hedrick is one of the top distance runners in the area. He is expected to compete for conference and sectional titles in 2014.
COACH LEWIS SAYS: “Our team goal is to compete for a conference championship and advance as many individuals to the regional meet and state meet.”
COACH: Mark Felix (10th year as head coach at Jeff after eight as an assistant).
2013 SECTIONAL FINISH: First.
2013 HHC FINISH: Runner-up.
KEY RETURNING ATHLETES: DeSean Daugharty (Jr., hurdles); David Morales (Sr., sprints); Isaiah Blanton (Sr., sprints); Isaiah Salazar (Jr., distance); Dalton Adkins (Sr., high jump); Tymon Brown (Sr., thrower); Dominic Adorno (Jr., middle distance); Guy Oliver (Jr., jumps/sprints); Casey Embry (Jr., hurdles); Dillon Wiggins (So., pole vault/hurdles).
KEY NEWCOMERS: Damin Smith (Sr., sprints/long jump); Isaiah Reeves (Sr., sprints); Keenan Williams (Sr., high jump); Bay Whitfield (distance); Jose Ojeda (Jr., distance); Thibault Gillis (Sr., distance); Bailey Hecker (Fr., distance); Tony Cappola (Fr., pole vault/high jump/400);
OUTLOOK: The Red Devils lost a pair of standouts in Tyrell Dowdell, who finished third in the state in the 400, and long jump state finalist Chase Scott. However, the team should be strong after several outstanding athletes joined the team for the first time. Jeff is certainly the favorite to win its 42nd consecutive sectional title. Behind strong throwers and sprinters, they may also challenge Floyd in the HHC.
COACH FELIX SAYS: “This may be the least experienced team of my career, but it is also loaded with natural ability. They work hard in practice. We will be a little rough around the edges for most of the season, but if these guys can reach their potential by season’s end, they might do something really special. It really just depends on how hard we work and how hard they work. I love the team I have this season. They are a fun bunch of hard workers and we will surprise some people. Sectional? I don’t know what will happen. Silver Creek is improving. Madison has been tough. Who knows? I know I don’t want to hear or talk about that streak just yet.”
COACH: Mark Peterson (first season at New Albany after 12 years as a Bulldog assistant).
2013 SECTIONAL FINISH: Third.
2013 HHC FINISH: Eighth.
KEY RETURNING ATHLETES: Javen Reeves (Sr., high jump); Max Mattox (Sr., long jump); Tuwan Payton (Sr., sprints); Isaiah Hickman (Sr., high jump).
KEY NEWCOMERS: Tim Baumgart (Fr., distance).
OUTLOOK: After a long-time stint as an assistant, Peterson takes over a program that has been down a little the past few years but a team that has some talent back. The Bulldogs aren’t likely to challenge for any team championships, but Reeves, Mattox, Payton and Hickman all competed in the Bloomington North Regional a year ago.
COACH PETERSON SAYS: “We have worked very hard in the pre-season to be extra fit, technically sound, and cohesive as a unit. We hope that this pays dividends for us during the season as we have a large team who is ready for competition.”
COACH: Gary Rosenberger (32 years as Providence coach).
2013 SECTIONAL FINISH: Seventh.
KEY RETURNING ATHLETES: Garrett Braun (Sr., sprints); Lincoln Ottersbach (Sr., middle distance); Alex Grove (Sr., distance); Collin Rankin (So., sprints/middle distance); Nathan Shumate (Jr., distance); Spencer Mitchell (Sr., distance); Owen Mattingly (Sr., sprints); Joey Hayes (Sr., long jump); Nick Reas (Sr., sprints); Matt Bell (Jr., sprints).
KEY NEWCOMERS: Keaton Spitler (Jr., sprints; Silver Creek transfer); Carson McCain (Fr., throws); Nick Hayes (Sr., throws); Dorian Noel (Sr., sprints/jumps); Luke Schroering (Fr., middle distance); Michael Craig (Fr., sprints); Micah Oberhausen (Fr., hurdles/long jump); James Solis (Fr., sprints).
OUTLOOK: Providence has a nice combination of returnees, freshmen and first-time athletes out. It should be a solid season for the Pioneers.
COACH: Darrell Kingery (fourth year at Silver Creek; 39th year as a head coach overall).
2013 SECTIONAL FINISH: Third.
2013 MSC FINISH: Third.
KEY RETURNING ATHLETES: Schuyler Hosp (Sr., throws); Morgan Davidson (Jr., middle distance); Tanner Coots (Jr., distance); Bobby Haines (Sr., sprints/long jump); Trent Farley (Sr., jumps); Brennan Thompson (Sr., sprints/high jump); Cole Williams (Sr., hurdles); Josh Grady (Sr., hurdles); Andrew Westfall (So., distance).
KEY NEWCOMERS: Boone Barton (Fr., distance); Cameron Stephens (Fr., distance); Matthew Bottorff (Fr., middle distance).
COACH KINGERY SAYS: “We can score in every event and have quite a bit of depth. We hope to contend again for the conference, place in the top three in sectional, send as many to the regional as we can and get a few to the state meet.”
Note: All area coaches were contact to submit information.