Boys track and field: Season preview


Whiteland senior Matthew Wray doesn’t attempt to fit the physical description of what one of the state’s elite sprinters might look like.

He’s too preoccupied winning races.

The glasses-wearing Wray, eschewer of contact lenses, might not look the part compared to some of the other athletes lowering themselves into the starter’s blocks prior to a race.

Twenty to 30 meters into a race, all that changes — oftentimes to the surprise of those attempting to beat Wray to the finish line.

“I tried contacts for a while, but they just kind of irritated my eyes. I just feel more comfortable in glasses,” Wray said. “Over time, I sort of embraced it. It’s fun in meets sometimes if you’re racing someone you’ve never raced before.

“I guess you could say it’s my look now.”

Wray’s varsity career, the final outdoor season of which begins with the Warriors’ meet later this month against Mooresville and Roncalli, has so far placed his name next to three program standards — the 200- (21.49 seconds) and 400-meter dashes (49.28), along with the 4×100 relay (42.37). His 200 record came in June at the state meet, good for a third-place finish.

At some point this season, Wray wants to take down Whiteland’s 22-year old record in the 100, a 10.72 by Brad Higginbotham. The senior has clocked a 10.81, but that was last summer competing in club .

This past fall, Wray committed to be part of the men’s and field team at Indiana State beginning with the 2024-25 school year. Owner of a 3.65 grade-point average, he wants to major in mechanical engineering.

Growing up, Wray saw himself as a baseball player first, usually pitching or playing in left field. He began as a sixth-grader and eventually phased baseball out of the picture as his favorite sport.

“I was always very competitive. It slowly became a passion, and I’m studying track all the time,” Wray said. “It’s a sport that, yeah, you can have great genetics. But another part is how much work you want to do.”

And work he does, on the track and off, all in the name of self-improvement.

“What Matthew does really well, his mechanics allow him to strike the ground really hard and really fast,” Whiteland track coach Brandon Bangel said. “He’s got great posture when he runs, and it allows him to have good knee lift. He is very much a student of what he does.”

Last year’s state in the 200, Wray’s preferred event, was Brownsburg junior Dominic Calhoun, who blazed a time of 21.30. Calhoun is back in an attempt to defend his title, which means Wray will have to be at his absolute fastest to take Whiteland boys track where it’s never been.

Wray believes he can.

“I want to get a state championship, because Whiteland has never had a state sprinter,” Wray said. “I’m looking to a 20.8 to a 20.9. I definitely think it’s attainable.”

SCOUTING THE COUNTY

Center Grove Trojans

Coach: Brad Timmons

Key returnees: Jonathan Bauzon, Peyton Coffey, Chase Dodson, Nathan Hollcraft, Kyle Montgomery, Rylan Mullins, Carter Pheifer and Gavin Rockwell, seniors; Tristan Baxter, Brady Dicken, Austin Hennessy, Brevin Holubar, Dallas Johnson, Austin Pryce, Ben Tapak and Mason Vrshek, juniors; Levi Jones, Owen Oliver, Brady Weber and Heath Wingler, sophomores

Top newcomers: Tyrece Neely, Daxon Sauer, Finn Sauer and Curtis Williams, juniors; Caison Barber, Cameron Cox, Aiden Francis, Frankie Hayse, Vinny Hayse, Nolan Rees, Jonah Smith and Baylor Winklemann, sophomores; Jayden Salo, freshman

Outlook: A new era begins with longtime assistant coach Timmons taking over for Eric Moore, who stepped aside following the 2023 season. The Trojans must replace a number of seniors from last season’s squad, though distance runners such as Rockwell and Montgomery are battle-tested and familiar with the big stage from cross country. Montgomery was 10th at state in the 1,600-meter . Holubar, who is the lone returnee from last year’s state 4×400 relay effort, leads the sprinters, a group that also features Dicken and Hennessy. In the field events, Coffey, who placed 13th at state in the high jump, and Pheifer, who was 17th in the pole vault, are back for their final prep seasons.

Others poised to break through this spring are Tapak and Johnson in hurdles, Weber and Jones in shot put and discus, respectively, and Wingler in both. Timmons also sees potential in Sauer in the sprints, Vrshek and Cox in the 800, and Salo in the 1,600.

Edinburgh Lancers

Coach: Jordan Bowman

Key returnees: Ethan Campbell and Anduan Chavez, seniors; Eli Bryant, Jackson Hartwell and Rylan Londeree, juniors

Top newcomer: Braden Cox, freshman

Outlook: “We are just looking at getting better every practice and meet,” Bowman said. “We share a lot of kids with our other spring , and focus a lot on personal bests. We know for the most part we are not going to be able to compete with the big schools. Every now and then we have a kid that can break through and have some success. I feel like there may be a couple this year.”

Franklin Grizzly Cubs

Coach: Ray Lane

Key returnees: Aidan Jefry, J.D. Sever and Carson Sommers, seniors; Jackson Frazier and Mason Herbert, juniors; Joseph Judson and Isiah Tunis, sophomores

Top newcomers: Clay Pinnick, senior; Alex Leugers, junior; Liam Fennig, freshman

Outlook: Led by Sever, the ninth-place state finisher last season in the 300-meter hurdles, the Grizzly Cubs feature other noteworthy talent. Jefry and Frazier will be counted on in the sprints, Sommers has already established a new indoor school mark in the pole vault (14 feet, 6 inches), and the core of distance runners, though young, will include Tunis and Fennig.

Greenwood Woodmen

Coach: Blaine Williams

Key returnees: Sam Grimes, Stuart Luhigo, Chase Monroe and Brett Odgers, seniors; Henry Barrett, Jeremiah Carter, Sam Cassel-Bertolet, Brady Cave, Brayden Hafen, Alex Kramer, Will Riley and Jake Squier, juniors

Top newcomers: Amare Middleton, senior; Trey Strange, junior; Gunner Ruppert, sophomore; Deston Heichel, Benjamin Hommell, Davion Jones, Jack Siminski and Kaden Wilking, freshmen

Outlook: The sunglasses-wearing Riley returns for his junior campaign after placing third at the state meet in the 100-meter dash. Riley will also run the 200 and sprint relays for the Woodmen. Not to be overshadowed is Grimes, a senior who advanced to the state cross country meet last fall. Grimes was seventh a year ago in the 800 at regional, while Carter was part of the Woodmen’s fifth-place 4×100 relay at regional. Hafen made it to regional in the pole vault, placing 10th by clearing 11 feet, 6 inches. Odgers is back after placing 10th at regional in the 400. Look for Cave and Kramer to pick up points in the shot put and discus.

Greenwood Christian Cougars

Coach: Andre Dobson

Key returnees: Elijah Herndon and Carter Pierce, seniors; Nathan Cottongim and Noah Miller, juniors; Trey Dobson, Nathan Goins, Luke McNichols and Christian Munsell, sophomores

Top newcomers: Austin Hoffe, junior; Cayden Pasch, sophomore; Caleb McKinley, Josiah Sherwood, Randy Stout and Noah Vasquez, freshmen

Outlook: The Cougars bring back Trey Dobson, who as a freshman lowered the school’s 100-meter dash standard and helped the 4×100 and 4×400 relays do the same. Dobson also competes in the 400-meter dash, and could own that mark by season’s end. His classmate, Goins, could emerge as one of the county’s better long jumpers, while seniors Pierce (high jump, 800 and 1,600) and Herndon (GCA’s record-holder in the 100 hurdles) are also prepared to have solid seasons.

Indian Creek Braves

Coach: Brady Devine

Key returnees: Lance Butler, Jackson Neibert and Caleb Yount, seniors; Henry Fleetwood, Malachi Mink and Luke Neibert, juniors; Grant Dalton, Braxton Freeman, Noah Greenwood, Jaxon Ramey and Casey Seitzinger, sophomores

Top newcomers: Jalen Sauer, senior; Adam Crouch, junior; Nate Nash, sophomore

Outlook: Devine sees this group as having the potential to be one of the school’s best teams in many years. Distance events appear to be the strength, and understandably so. Greenwood, Fleetwood and the two Neiberts are all back after picking up seventh place at the Greenfield-Central Regional in the 4×800 relay. Mink, Ramey and Butler should score points in the sprints for the Braves, while Nash is expected to help in field events.

Whiteland Warriors

Coach: Brandon Bangel

Key returnees: Benian Walls, Noah Grady, Matthew Nino and Matthew Wray, seniors; Hayden Luttman, Makail Christman and Nick Christman, juniors; Nolan Edens and Will Watson, sophomores

Top newcomer: Nalon Knight, junior

Outlook: Wray is expected to be one of the top sprinters in the state this season, while Nino was a regional qualifier in the 800 a year ago, placing eighth. Nick Christman also made it to regional in the 300 hurdles and is expected to be even better this spring. Graduation hit the Warriors’ sprint relay efforts hard, so Wray will eventually be taking and handing off the baton to other teammates. In the pole vault, Luttman advanced to regional as a sophomore, making it over the bar at 11-6 for ninth place. Walls, meanwhile, took fifth at regional in the long jump, soaring 20 feet, 4¼ inches.



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