Greenwood’s record-setting boys 4×100 relay hoping for big postseason

An unmistakable sense of urgency is linked to Amare Middleton’s lone season of high school track.

Middleton, the only senior on Greenwood’s county champion 4×100 relay team, looks to extract as many positive memories from the next few weeks as possible.

“I really just want to help take us to state,” said Middleton, referring to the June 1 state meet at Indiana University. “I think it would be a really cool experience. Everyone is so loud, and with the adrenaline pumping, it would be a great experience.”

The Woodmen relay effort during the regular season began with Middleton lowering himself into the blocks. It continued with freshman Benjamin Hommell taking the baton and eventually handing off to sophomore Gunner Ruppert, who then gave it to shades-wearing junior Will Riley for those exciting final 100 meters.

That quartet lowered the school standard by clocking a time of 42.30 seconds at the Johnson County meet at Whiteland in April, However, the version running at today’s Columbus North Sectional has senior Brett Odgers starting the race, handing off to Hommell, Middleton running third and Riley bringing it home.

The fact that the initial unit had been so productive so soon is, to some, surprising.

Greenwood’s relay included a member of all four classes, which in and of itself made it unique. Now factor in that all but Riley weren’t part of last season’s 4×100. A year ago at this time, Middleton and Ruppert were part of the Woodmen baseball team and Hommell was in middle school.

But this past football season, which included Middleton making 50 receptions for 1,013 yards and 11 touchdowns, helped develop a chemistry between the four that carried over to the track.

“We all play football together, so we have that team bond already,” Middleton said. “This is mine and Gunner Ruppert’s first year of track. Since I am going to college for football, I wanted to be conditioned for next season.”

Middleton, who also high jumps and competes in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, has committed to play at Wilmington College, a Division III school in Ohio.

He enjoyed his role as Greenwood’s leadoff runner, but is fine contributing wherever coach Blaine Williams sees fit.

“I feel a lot of energy when I’m getting ready to start,” Middleton said. “To hear that gun go off, I just want to do the best that I can for my team.”

Riley running anchor is a weapon few teams in Indiana can match. As a sophomore, he placed third at state in the 100 in 10.71 seconds. His winning times at county were 10.59 in the 100 and 21.85 in the 200.

“I was expecting us to be pretty quick, but with the two new baseball guys, it’s made a pretty big difference,” Riley said. “Honestly, I just think we all have the desire to win.

“Our first indoor meet, we ran the 4×200 and dropped the baton. We got it figured out after that.”

Last season’s relay quartet of Jordan Bonser, Jeremiah Carter, A.J. Linville and Riley, established a school-record time of 43.59 at the Greenfield-Central Regional.

Bonser and Linville graduated; Carter, now a junior, sustained an injury and ocuses more on the long jump.

“The group we had last year broke the school record, and then we were thinking, ‘Okay, who else do we have to go back in there?” Williams said. “When we got outdoors and saw what Amare, Benjamin, Gunner and Will run together, we thought this is a cool problem to have.”

And now, Odgers.

Surprisingly, Greenwood has never had a boys 4×100 relay qualify for state in all its years of track and field. Williams feels this foursome has what it takes be the first.

“They all like each other, they like running together and they’re having fun,” he said. “When they started to have that success early, they were like, ‘Let’s go.’

“We’ve got something special here.”


Columbus North Sectional

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Participating teams: Center Grove, Edinburgh, Franklin, Greenwood, Greenwood Christian, Indian Creek, Whiteland, Columbus East, Columbus North, Hauser, Southwestern, Waldron

Admission: $7 (digital only)