Whether exploding out of the starting blocks or taking it the distance on a kickoff return, Brandon Wheat’s reputation as an athlete centers around moving fast.

Few in Center Grove’s envied sports history have been better in terms of making it from Point A to Point B in as little time as possible.

Wheat displayed that speed this spring, which concluded with him winning two medals at the state meet and being named the Daily Journal’s boys track and field Athlete of the Year.

Wheat, who was 10th at state as a ninth-grader in the 200-meter dash — missing a ninth-place medal by four hundredths of a second — had his sophomore season canceled by COVID-19. However, he continued to flourish during the back half of his track career with a total of five walks to the awards podium at state.

Factor in the medals he earned as a member of the Trojans’ undefeated football squads of 2020 and 2021 — both Class 6A state champions — and, well, you get the idea.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, thinking about how I’m leaving Center Grove,” Wheat said. “I’m very grateful for the past four years here. A lot of friends. A lot of memories that I’ll remember forever. I’ve learned a lot of things here.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to go to any other school with any other coaches or teammates.”

Wheat, whose soft-spoken nature contradicts his competitive fire, did whatever was necessary to develop everything from his physique to his technique.

“I try and perfect all the little things to make me better,” Wheat said. “My freshman year I came in not knowing, really, anything that I do now. But coach (Eric) Moore and coach (Brad) Timmons taught me a lot of stuff that I still do today.

“There are a lot of things I wish could have gone better, but I loved every second of it. I would do it again, if I could. I had a good time the full four years.”

Moore, who just completed his 23rd season at Center Grove, has mentored his share of outstanding athletes as both football and boys track coach.

Many were football players first, but not Wheat.

“Brandon is a unique track kid,” said Moore, whose squad placed sixth at state earlier this month. “Track season in Indiana can be really short because of the bad weather, and he’s such a professional at preparing himself.

“Obviously, he takes it 1,000% seriously. He doesn’t cheat himself at any time. Every day at practice he does all the things he needs to do to get better, and does all the things in the weight room he needs to. Brandon is extremely strong, has kept flexibility, and that’s what’s improved his speed.”

Wheat’s third and final berth in a state meet began with him not qualifying for the final of the 100-meter dash.

He shook it off, blazed a time of 21.70 seconds in his preliminary heat of the 200, and clocked a 21.82 in the final to finish fourth. Wheat later made the most of his final lap in Trojans gear, anchoring the 4×400 relay and rallying it to a fourth-place showing in 3:20.72.

“Brandon is also a technical guru. He works on little things like his first steps, his arm movements and arm placements,” Moore said. “He’s really good out of the blocks because he does that in the offseason. He’s a pure track kid. A track kid who played football.

“He’s a good football player, but he’s a uniquely excellent track athlete.”

The 2022 All-County team for boys track and field:

Conner Burries, Center Grove senior:

Finished second in the pole vault at state meet with a school-record vault of 16 feet … Cleared 15-10 to win the Columbus North Sectional … Competed in Midwest Meet of Champions … Will compete at Indiana State.

Parker Doyle, Center Grove junior:

Capped off season with fourth-place state finish in 110-meter hurdles, posting a time of 14.54 seconds … Also won the 300-meter hurdles at both sectional and regional before placing 26th at state meet.

Zach Greller, Center Grove sophomore:

Trojans’ 400-meter specialist won sectional in 51.09 seconds, placed third at Greenfield-Central Regional (50.51) and earned a ninth-place state medal (49.19) … Also ran on fourth-place 4×400 relay squad.

Griffin Hennessy, Center Grove junior:

Wound up 10th at state meet in 1,600-meter run after placing second at sectional and third at regional … Also a contributor to the Trojans’ 4×800 relay, which ran a school-record 7:42.91 while finishing runner-up at state.

Dylan Mayhew, Greenwood senior:

Capped prep track and field career by placing eighth at state in the shot put … Was runner-up at sectional and fifth at regional … Represented Indiana at Midwest Meet of Champions … Will throw for the University of Indianapolis.

Garrett Messer, Center Grove junior:

State finalist in the discus after starting postseason with second-place finishes at both sectional and regional … Finished 22nd at state with a top throw of 130 feet, 4 inches.

Parker Mimbela, Center Grove junior:

Ran a time of 9 minutes, 34.17 seconds in the 3,200 meters at sectional, finishing second … Followed up by winning regional in 9:22.29 and placing 13th at state (9:23.48).

Scott Parrish, Whiteland junior:

Qualified for state meet in both pole vault (fifth place) and as part of the Warriors’ 4×100 relay (17th) … Finished third in pole vault at sectional and tied for second at regional … helped relay claim a regional victory.

Carter Pheifer, Center Grove sophomore:

Finished second at Columbus North Sectional in pole vault with a best of 14-6, tied for second at regional and made the podium at state by being part of a three-way tie for ninth.

Brandon Wheat, Center Grove senior:

Won 100 and 200 at sectional and regional levels with respective best times of 10.87 and 21.78 seconds … Placed fourth at state in the 200 before anchoring the Trojans fourth-place 4×400 relay … Will compete for the University of Indianapolis.

Matthew Wray, Whiteland sophomore:

Won the 200-meter dash in 22.02 seconds and led victorious 4×100 relay at the Greenfield-Central Regional … Was second in the 200 at sectional (22.48) … Placed 11th at state in 200 (22.09) and was part of 17th-place 4×100 relay.

Honorable mention

Brady Dicken, Center Grove; Owen Harder, GCA; Jackson Hartwell, Edinburgh; Brayden Gardner, Greenwood; Kyle Montgomery, Center Grove; Bryson Nixon, Franklin; Raef Sauer, Center Grove; James Schott, Center Grove; J.D. Sever, Franklin; Jarret Rockwell, Center Grove; Benian Walls, Whiteland; Drew Wheat, Center Grove