The road to the awards podium at the state meet actually features two first steps — sectional competition being the first.
All seven Johnson County teams put their best feet forward at the Columbus North Sectional on Thursday, with numerous athletes qualifying for next week’s regional at Greenfield-Central.
Seventh-ranked Center Grove will be represented in all 16 events after scoring 205 points to beat the host Bull Dogs by 91.5 points and capture the 18th sectional championship in its history.
The last 17 are under Eric Moore, who’ll relinquish his track coaching duties after this, his 24th season.
Senior Parker Doyle won the 110- and 300-meter hurdles for the Trojans with respective times of 14.32 and 38.35 seconds. Doyle also carried the baton for CG’s victorious 4×100 and 4×400 relays.
“It was definitely about time today,” Doyle said. “I’m trying to get my ranking up higher on the leaderboards, maybe intimidate some of the other guys. My prelim time (14.49) was a PR for me.”
That is, until he ran the final.
Other winners for Center Grove in running events were Zach Greller in the 400 (49.04) and Parker Mimbela in the 3,200 (9:25.19).
The Trojans impressed in field events as well. Junior high jumper Peyton Coffey won with a best of 6 feet, 6 inches. The bar was raised to 6-7 1/2, but Coffey was unable to break the Trojans’ 13-year old standard of 6-7 1/4.
“I did 6-5 at the Noblesville Relays about a week ago,” Coffey said. “I tried to base my jumps off trying to get 6-6, but getting over it on my first attempt was a little bit of a shock.
“With (6-7 1/2), I had to make sure I went up first a lot more. I’ve just got to work more on that, and my arch.”
Center Grove sophomore long jumper Caden York (21-6) also won, as did senior Garrett Messer in both the discus (185-9 1/2) and shot put (52-9 1/2).
The Trojans applied a punctuation mark by dominating the 4×400 relay as Micah Coyle, Brevin Holubar, Parker Doyle and Greller blazed a 3:20.18.
Whiteland placed third in the final team standings with 92 points, but took home blue ribbons in three events. Senior Scott Parrish won pole vault by clearing 15 feet, Matthew Wray won the 200-meter dash in 21.82 seconds and the 4×100 relay clocked a time of 42.37. Making up the Warriors’ winning quartet were Jamal Nyonteh, Wray, Adrian Unger and Elliott Spangler.
Greenwood sophomore Will Riley won the 100 in 10.92 seconds, battling athletes he’s admired the past couple of seasons.
“My PR last year was 11.2, so being sub-11 this season, I was really happy for it,” Riley said. “There was a little bit of intimidation because those guys are older than me.
“And they’re a lot scarier. Those are some big boys.”