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Boys track & field: Season outlook

Merrillville senior AustJamerswhigh jump with DAC meet record jump 6 feet 5 inches. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

Merrillville senior Austin Jamerson won the high jump with a DAC meet record jump of 6 feet 5 inches. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 22, 2013 6:51AM



REFRESHER COURSE

Bowman’s Cornelius Strickland went to state looking to win championships in the 100 and 200. He had the fastest preliminary time in both events, but a pulled hamstring in the 100 final doomed his title hopes. Joe Troop led Chesterton to the best finish by an area team at state (sixth, 23.5 points), while Lake Central thrower Gelen Robinson added to his three-sport resume with a pair of medals and Merrillville’s Dylon Collins was runner-up in the 100.

TOP FIVE TEAMS

1. Crown Point

The Duneland Athletic Conference is probably the deepest conference in the state, and the Bulldogs might be the DAC’s deepest team. Among those back from a sectional runner-up and third-place regional squad: state qualifiers Jordan Kelly (pole vault) and Tom Cierniak (3,200), sprinters Wess Honaker and Zach Sneiderwine and middle distance ace Zach Seamon.

2. Valparaiso

Coach Brett Polizotto likes the depth of his distance crew, which includes Peyton Reed, Ari Coulopoulos, Xavier Reed, Pat Dalton, Andrew Jankowski and Kevin Hickey. The hurdles also look strong with returning state qualifier Josh Marciniak and Andrew Kittridge.

3. Chesterton

Senior quarter-miler Joe Troop leads the way for the Trojans, who will rely on him not only in the open 400 but also in a pair of returning state-qualifying relays (1,600, 3,200). Also keep an eye on Billy Biehl and Nick Barango in the middle distances.

4. Merrillville

Three-event state qualifier Austin Jamerson (110 hurdles, long jump, high jump) and hurdler/jumper Bruce Thomas return for the Pirates. The throws are another strength with state qualifier Josh Haynes back.

5. Portage

Senior Jeron Blake, who could be the next great sprinter to come out of Northwest Indiana, is the main man for the Indians after winning medals in the 100 and 200 last year. David Clegg could also score points anywhere from the middle distances to the jumps.

FIVE DARK HORSES

1. Munster

The Mustangs are deeper in the sprints this season, which could come in handy as they seek to repeat as champs of a sectional deep in those events. Tommy Bolanowski, a returning 1,600 state qualifier, is looking at a busy season that could have him running everything from the 800 up.

2. East Chicago Central

Things are looking up for the Cardinals, who finally have a track of their own. Depth is an issue as usual, but talent isn’t. EC’s best state hopes could be in the 400 relay, where Jason Stewart, Marteyveus Carter and Anthony Hunt return from last year’s sixth-place state finisher, and the high jump with Kenneth Lloyd.

3. Lake Central

The Indians took a big graduation hit after winning sectional and regional titles. But the 40th and final season for retiring coach Rudy Skorupa could still be a decent one with throwers Gelen Robinson (a returning medalist in the shot put and discus) and Dean Kokot leading the way.

4. LaPorte

The Slicers graduated a pair of big scorers in sprinter Payton McCoy and distance runner Mitch Hubner. But they have two more back in state-qualifying sprinter/jumper Scott Schreiber and distance standout Anthony Didion.

5. Hanover Central

Steve Foulds, in his 27th season as the Wildcats coach, has his youngest team ever with just two seniors. But Hanover’s goal is to win the Porter County Conference title in its last year before moving to the Greater South Shore.

FIVE ATHLETES
TO WATCH

1. Jeron Blake, Portage

As usual, Northwest Indiana has plenty of quality sprinters. Blake looks to be the best of the bunch after winning state medals last season in the 100, 200 and 1,600 relay.

2. Gelen Robinson,
Lake Central

The junior three-sport standout figures to be in the mix for state titles again in both throws after taking third in the discus and seventh in the shot a year ago.

3. Kenneth Lloyd,
East Chicago Central

After tying for sixth at state last year with a 6-4 clear, the senior high jumper has set his sights considerably higher. He went 6-10 indoors and is aiming for 7-0 outside.

4. Austin Jamerson,
Merrillville

The Cornell-bound senior was bothered by a hip injury at state last year, but still cleared 6-4 in the high jump. He’s looking for medals this season in that event, the 100 hurdles and long jump.

5. Marsillis Gibson,
Bowman

A state qualifier in both hurdles last spring, the senior ran one of the fastest 55-meter hurdle indoor races in the nation at the Hoosier State Relays (7.68 seconds).

FIVE NEW FACES

1. Anthony Didion, LaPorte

The junior showed promise two years ago, but had a rough 2012 season because of health issues. He looks strong again this spring, winning the DAC indoor 1,600 (4:22) and taking seventh at the indoor state meet.

2. Mitchell Kessler,
Crown Point

A sophomore out for the first time, Kessler had a throw of better than 51 feet at the DAC indoor meet.

3. Matt Yzaguirre,
Hanover Central

Running in some miserable weather, the junior already has tied the school record of 22.7 in the 200 this spring.

4. Brett Lara, Chesterton

The pole vaulter missed last season with a broken foot, but qualified for indoor state this year and could be a factor in one of the area’s deeper events.

5. Tyler Kramer-Stephens, Lake Central

The freshman will be expected to contribute in both the 1,600 and 3,200.

— By correspondent Mike Clark



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