Now that it has finally stopped snowing, the outdoor track and field season has begun in earnest. And it's already apparent that the south will rise again.
For the past several years, Snider has been the top boys program in the area. Last year, the Panthers won their third straight Wayne Regional title and were the area's top team at the state meet in Bloomington with a 10th-place finish. But graduation losses have dealt the Panthers a heavy blow.
Waiting in the wings with a young and explosive team is Wayne. The Generals recently won the North Side Relays have dominated meets in the sprints, hurdles and field events. Their only weakness? The distance events. But with Snider's graduation issues and injuries to key runners in the area, the Generals' march to championships should go unabated.
“We have three really strong individuals,” said Wayne coach Tom Hogan. “But those three cover a lot of events. We don't have a lot of talent (depth), but what we have is exceptional.”
Leading the way for the Generals is sprinter Shamarcus Ford, who has the state's fifth-fastest time in the 100 and is state-ranked in the 400. He will also be a championship threat in the 200 once the post-season arrives. Ford helps lead a potent 400-meter and 1,600-meter relay teams.
“He is the most talented runner we have,” Hogan said of Ford. “But he has help in those relays.”
Also starring for the Generals is Carrington Robinson, a top hurdler, relay runner and currently the state's third-best long jumper. And then there is Devon Stone, who is state-ranked in both the 110 and 300 hurdles. He runs with Ford on the Generals' 400 relay team and with Ford and Robinson on the 1,600 relay team.
With a lack of depth, Hogan says the Generals will do better at the Wayne Regional than the Wayne Sectional.
“I don't think we have the numbers to compete with Homestead, but I think we have the quality athletes to score well at regionals and then at state,” Hogan said.
Also from the south side is the area's top returning hurdler, Adrian Mable of South Side. Last season Mable won the Wayne Regional and was all-state in the 110 hurdles. He likely would have repeated both finishes in the 300 hurdles if not for tripping over a competitor who had fallen into his lane at the Wayne Regionals.
North Side, which placed third at last year's Wayne Regional, was also hit hard by graduation. Three of the four runners in the Redskins' state champion 1,600-meter relay team have moved on. But the lone returnee is Tyvon Kelley, who is doing his best to carry the torch.
Kelley now has the state's third-best time in the 100 to go along with his great abilities in the 400. Look for Kelley to anchor the Redskins' signature event, the 1,600 relay.
Leading the way in the Northeast Hoosier Conference is defending champion Carroll (second at the Wayne Regional) and Homestead. The Chargers return three-fourth's of their state champion 3,200 relay team, including all-state cross- country runner Jon Harper. The senior Harper currently has the state's second-best time in the 1,600 (4 minutes, 14 seconds). The deep Carroll distance staff -- the Chargers' cross country team placed second in the state meet last fall -- will undoubtedly help in the big meets. But like Wayne lacks scoring ability in the distance events, the Chargers lack scoring points in the sprints.
Homestead continues to be the area's most complete track team with the ability to score in all areas. Trevor Stanley leads the Spartans in the sprints and Jordan Davis leads them in the hurdles.
Other top individuals include South Side high jumper Aaron Thomas (ranked third in the state at 6-foot-10), Bishop Dwenger pole vaulter Jared Schipper (ranked third in the state at 15-feet-4), Northrop's Tyshon Billingsley (ranked fourth in the state in the 110 hurdles) and Churubusco thrower Austin McClure (fourth in the state in the shot put and seventh in the discus).