GREENFIELD — Track and field’s unpredictability factor found the fastest lane and refused to look back at the Greenfield-Central Regional on Thursday.

As is almost always the case, feel-good stories were countered by disappointment — or worse, the kind of heartache that will require weeks and perhaps even months of idle time to soothe.

Fourth-ranked Center Grove captured the team title with 137 points, while No. 1 Columbus North was second with 84 and ninth-ranked Warren Central third with 82.

Whiteland sophomore sprinter Matthew Wray was one of the athletes making a name for himself on the biggest stage to date, winning the 200-meter dash in 22.02 seconds and contributing to the Warriors’ 4×100 relay that came in seeded fifth and left with four blue ribbons.

It was in the latter event that top-seeded Center Grove saw its season come to an unfortunate and unexpected end because of a dropped baton.

“In the relay, Franklin Central dropped the baton,” said Wray, who teamed with juniors Peyton Dotson and Scott Parrish and senior anchor Jamal Nyonteh to post a winning time of 43.65 seconds.

“I had to hurdle over it in my lane. It looked like he was reaching over for it, but basically it was doing mid-hurdle racing in the middle of a 4×100, but we got it done. A very big surprise. We didn’t expect to do this well.”

Winning regional championships for Center Grove were senior Brandon Wheat in the 100-meter dash (10.87 seconds), junior Parker Doyle in the 300-meter hurdles (40.04), Parker Mimbela pulling away in the 3,200 to cross the line in 9:22.3 and senior pole vaulter Connor Burries with a best of 15 feet, 6 inches.

The Trojans also had their share of second-place efforts with pole vaulter Carter Pheifer, Wheat in the 200, Garrett Messer in the discus, Doyle in the 110 hurdles and both the 4×400 and 4×800 relay teams.

Such depth could still have Center Grove vying for a state championship next weekend at Indiana University despite what transpired with the 4×100 relay.

“We went 30 days without a meet, then we have one and have another six days later,” Trojans coach Eric Moore said. “We didn’t handle that very well. In a lot of events, we weren’t as sharp as we had been in the past.

“But the competition is good, and at the end of the night, it’s a team sport.”

Knowing a top-three finish guarantees them a berth in the state meet on June 4, athletes hardly lacked incentive.

Trojans junior Griffin Hennessy, for instance, was locked in a final-lap battle for third against Clayton Guthrie of Columbus North in the 1,600-meter run. Hennessy turned on the jets the final 60 yards and posted a time of 4:21.03 to Guthrie’s 4:22.10.

“You’re working all year towards state, and you kind of get flashbacks where you’re like, I’ve got to go now,” Hennessy said. “There’s a good chance you’re not going to get a callback (if not in the top three), so you just have to give it everything you have.

“The goal now is the top nine (at state).”

Whiteland’s Parrish can relate, having also placed third in the pole vault with a top height of 14 feet.

“The 2021 season is when I started (pole vaulting), so this past year has really just been jumping and advancing,” Parrish said. “It feels good. I qualified for the indoor state, and this feels better to know I’m where I need to be and just to keep moving forward.”

Greenwood’s Dylan Mayhew registered a heave of 55-9 in the shot put to hit the state standard. Roncalli’s Eli Crouch also made the standard in the high jump (6-5).