Boys track: LaPorte’s Anthony Didion has eye on state
By Mike Clark Post-Tribune correspondent May 22, 2013 11:06PM
LaPorte's Anthony Didion, right, took first place in the 1600 meter run during the boys DAC meet at Valparaiso Wednesday May 8, 2013. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Advancement: Top three finishers in all events qualify for state, along with any other finishers meeting the qualifying standard.
Athletes to watch: Andrean — Nick Janiga. Bishop Noll — Sal Cordova, Will Kasprzycki. Boone Grove — Kyle Feck. Bowman — Marsillis Gibson, Charles Hurt, Jalen Knight. Chesterton — Jacob Andrews, Kevin Kenney, Brett Lara, Nick Raffin, Archie Sullivan, Joe Troop, Trever Walker. Crown Point — Tom Cierniak, Nick Faso, Troy Grady, Wesley Honaker, Jordan Kelly, Mitchell Kessler, Travis Kucic, Tristan Peterson, Alex Ray, Zach Seamon, Zach Sneiderwine, Jacob Stern, Spencer Swope, Daniel Walters. East Chicago Central — TreQuan Burnett, Marteyveus Carter, kenneth Lloyd. Gavit — Dontae Adams, Mike Pajdzik. Hammond — Malik Myles. Hanover Central — Sam Bokodi, Alec Nirtaut. Hebron — Zac Frey. Highland — Ian Hardy, Seth Hardy. Hobart — Logan Allen, Alex Cordova, Joey Curtis, Ernest Ray, Nick Stack, Matt Stewart, Gerald Valenzuela. Kankakee Valley — Michael Smith, Derick Tesh. Knox — Brian Fulghum. Lake Central — Zach Bencur, Nathan Bowdish, Kyle Crawford, Dean Kokot, Gelen Robinson, Charles Sykes, Alex Tucker, Kyle West. LaPorte — Jacob Bowers, Anthony Didion, Nathan Gerick, Scott Schreiber. Lew Wallace — Darius Mahome. Lowell — Brian Blaylock, Kyle Eller, Mitchell Leckrone, Brandon Shanks, Jeffrey Potat. Merrillville — Garrett Ferrell, Billy Grant, Josh Haynes, Nygel Jackson, Terry Jackson, Austin Jamerson, Jeff Colby, Jacob Styx, Don Taylor, Bruce Thomas. Michigan City — Ryan Jones II. Morgan Township — Alec Kostelnik. Munster — Ernest Carter, Tommy Bolanowski, Ryan Kritzer, Manny Lopez, Calvin Sanders. Portage — Jeron Blake, Diondre Griffin, Danvell Mills, Dashun Holmes, Jared Nieves, Taylor Sebben, Lorenzo Wells. Rensselaer — Travis Flanigan, Jace Horner, Brooks Rodibaugh. Roosevelt — Nigel Coles, Henry Smith, Barrie Wesby. South Central — Isaiah Thomas. Valparaiso — Muyenda Burnett, Pat Dalton, Andrew Guzek, Mark Johnson, Andrew Kittridge, Josh Marciniak, Lonnie Pappas, Peyton Reed, Xavier Reed, Pat Reilly, Cody Zander. West Side — Darius Barnes, Deronte Buggs, Jare Glover, Jonvae Johnson, Lonnie Johnson, Carlton Sims, Kahlil Upshaw. Wheeler — James Mills, Joel O’Shea.
Updated: June 24, 2013 2:22PM
A couple seasons ago, it looked like Anthony Didion was gearing up to be the next distance ace for LaPorte.
“Freshman year he was very good,” LaPorte co-coach Tim Beres said. “Last year he was off the radar.”
It wasn’t that Didion wasn’t good. But he definitely wasn’t healthy.
“Last year I was, like, sick all year,” he said, citing bouts of mononucleosis and pneumonia. “It was a drag.”
So instead of joining with then-senior Mitch Hubner to give the Slicers a dynamic duo in the middle distances, Didion was left to look ahead to better times. Those have arrived this season, which is good news for him and the Slicers.
The junior won the 800 and 1,600 meters at last week’s Portage Sectional with times of 1 minute, 58.64 seconds and 4:19.32, respectively. That sets up Didion for Thursday’s Valparaiso Regional, where he’ll be chasing berths in next week’s state finals in Bloomington.
It’s literally been a feel-good story for Didion, who started feeling like himself last fall during cross country. “I was finally able to hit the miles I wanted to hit,” he said.
That carried over to track. After not lowering his time in the 1,600 at all last spring, Didion came out and dropped around 10 seconds to run a 4:22 in his first indoor metric mile of 2013.
He also has become a force in the 800, which wasn’t what he or Beres expected.
“Last year and the year before I just despised the (800),” Didion said. “It’s such a fast race.”
Beres figured he’d do a little experimenting with Didion, now that Hubner — who was third in the 1,600 and seventh in the 800 at state last year — was gone.
“I told him he should be ready to run anything from the 800 to the 3,200,” the coach said.
But Didion has been so good at the metric half-mile that he hasn’t run the 3,200 outdoors this season. At the Duneland Athletic Conference meet, he won the 1,600 in 4:18.06 and was second in the 800 by about a half-second, running 1:57.12.
Now comes the regional, where survival till next week is job one.
“Qualifying (for state) is obviously the most important thing,” Beres said. “Ideally he won’t have to run that fast in the 1,600. There’s not a lot of rest between the 1,600 and the 800. My plan would be to win the 1,600 in 5 minutes.”
“Regional champion, I would love to have that name,” Didion said. “Above all, I just want to make it out.”
And he is OK with conserving a little energy at the regional if that’s how it plays out: “Every time after the (1,600), I always save something for the (800).”
If everything goes to plan and Didion advances in both events, that’s when it’ll be time to go all-out.
“State meet is all icing on the cake,” Beres said. “It’s hard not to do well at state, the field is so strong.”
And after last year, Didion can’t wait to be a part of it.