Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports

April 13, 2014

BOYS T&F: Howard County season preview

Sectional champ Eastern looks to keep momentum

The 2014 boys track and field season, in terms of Howard County schools, could be as wide open as any year in recent memory.

With Kokomo and Eastern suffering key graduation losses, and the return of exceptional veteran depth across the board, it’s anyone’s guess as who has the inside track to a sectional title.

The following are season outlooks for each county squad, in order of finish in last year’s sectional.

Eastern

The Comets won a fourth straight Mid-Indiana Conference championship before wrestling the sectional title away from host Kokomo, claiming their first crown since 1998 while dethroning the Wildkats for the first time since 2009, when Western claimed the top step of the podium.

Eastern graduated four state qualifiers, including state long jump champion Grant Cole, but with a host of key contributors back, second-year coach Austin Roark is just as confident with his current crop as he was with last year’s Greentown contingent.

“The good thing is with winning and having so much success last year, it got kids excited,” Roark said. “It showed them that if they come out and train hard we can do it again. A lot of those kids are back from that team. Obviously we will miss all those seniors that did so well, but we’re also returning a big part of guys that scored the majority of our points. I think that success last year is going to feed right into this year and keep those guys hungry for another sectional title.”

Senior Riley Haupert was the sectional runner-up in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and will lead the Comets’ sprinters. Haupert is joined by senior Will Porter, and juniors Andrew Turner and Papee Byers on the 4x100 relay team, which won the sectional a year ago. Freshman Noah Aaron is making a strong push to earn a spot on the relay, as well, while Porter will pull double duty, also playing baseball. Turner was a regional qualifier in the 200.

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