Center Grove’s hard-earned reputation for producing elite hurdlers carries with it a vast array of names and times.
In the past decade alone, the Trojan boys accumulated a total of 11 medals at the state meet in hurdles events — four in the 110-meter highs and another seven in the 300s. That sum might be higher had the COVID-19 pandemic not wiped out the 2020 season.
Trojans senior Parker Doyle, the most recent addition to the group after placing fourth in the 110s with a time of 14.54 seconds last June at Indiana University, wants to take it a step (or two) further this season.
He knows it will be a challenge. Five of the other eight hurdlers who medaled in his specialty are seniors as well.
“There is still a really good group of hurdlers in my class in the state, so obviously, the goal is to get first in the 110s and top three in the 300s,” Doyle said. “It looks like I’ll be running in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays too, so I want to get as many points as possible for my team.”
Doyle knows about excelling when it most matters.
A key defensive player for Center Grove’s last two Class 6A state championship football teams, Doyle, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound cornerback, accounted for 37 tackles and two interceptions in the fall.
He grew up passionate about both sports, but the 2021 track postseason proved a turning point when it came to Doyle’s future.
As a sophomore, he placed in the top three in the 110 hurdles to make it out of both the sectional and regional; Doyle’s preliminary time of 16.03 was 25th-fastest of the 27 finalists in the 110-meter event.
Nonetheless, the experience of being able to navigate postseason waters with teammate James Schott, who placed 18th, was one he looked forward to attempting to duplicate.
“My freshman year, I would’ve said 100% that I would’ve tried to go to college as a football player,” Doyle said. “Then, I made it to state in the 110s as a sophomore, and just fell in love with it.”
Added Center Grove track and football coach Eric Moore: “The whole season with him was so surprising, but what helped Parker was having such a good practice partner in James Schott.”
With Schott currently a defensive end for the football team at Michigan State, Doyle is the one expected to lead Center Grove’s hurdlers. He has already been clocked at 8.23 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles at an indoor meet in Bloomington.
In October, Doyle, who carries a 3.75 grade-point average, committed to attend Indiana State University, where he’ll run track and major in mechanical engineering design.
The Trojans start the outdoor track and field season on April 8 at the Columbus North Invitational, the first step toward Doyle adding to the school’s envied hurdling reputation.
“Parker is just really quick and a tremendous athlete. He’s got a lot of natural ability, but works hard and is great helping the younger hurdlers,” Moore said. “I’m expecting him to be one of the top five or six hurdlers in the state.”
SCOUTING THE COUNTY
Center Grove Trojans
Coach: Eric Moore
Key returnees: Micah Coyle, Parker Doyle, Levi Farmer, Ty Garrett, Zach Greller, Griffin Hennessy, Eli Hohlt, Garrett Messer, Parker Mimbela, Jarret Rockwell and Drew Wheat, seniors; Kyle Montgomery, Carter Pheifer and Gavin Rockwell, juniors; Brady Dicken and Brevin Holubar, sophomores
Top newcomers: John Lyon, senior; Peyton Coffee, junior; Tristan Baxter and Dallas Johnson, sophomores
Outlook: The Trojans nearly added to their list of top-five team finishes at the state meet with a sixth-place effort last June, and appear to have what it takes to do even better this time around. Nine athletes are back after making state in 2022, with the return of Garrett (distance) and Coyle (sprints) only adding to the team’s point potential.
“This is probably the most spread-out team we’ve had in terms of scoring points,” Moore said. “We’ve got good hurdlers, good sprinters and good distance runners. Does that mean any of them can score at the state meet? I don’t know.” Moore is hopeful that Hohlt (hurdles, sprints) and Wheat (sprints), both continuing their recoveries from injuries sustained during football season, are back by May.
Coach: Amy Schilling
Key returnees: Braylon Bryant, Enrique Callejas and Blaze Jensen, seniors; Austin Brockman, Ethan Campbell and Anduan Chavez, juniors; Brian Callejas, Rylan Londeree and Irving Luis-Orozco, sophomores
Top newcomers: Tyler Branigan, Eli Bryant and Caleb Murphy, sophomores
Outlook: “We will continue to look to get more students, but will be sharing some athletes with other sports,” Schilling said. “We have a solid core, and look to continue to improve from last year. We hope to do well in conference and make a good showing in the sectional.”
Franklin Grizzly Cubs
Coach: Ray Lane
Key returnees: Luke Cambridge, Jacob Houston and Ty Murphy, seniors; J.D. Sever and Carson Sommers, juniors; Ari Smith and Jesse Toves, sophomores
Top newcomers: Dylan Beverly, senior; Isiah Tunis, freshman
Outlook: “After graduating a lot of our sprint points from the 2022 team, we’ll be relying on the other areas for some stability as we get more experience in the sprints,” Lane said. “We return a majority of our field events and distance scorers from last year, and J.D. Sever was a regional qualifier in the hurdles. We feel like we have the pieces to see some improvement from our finishes at the conference meet and sectional this year.”
Coach: Blaine Williams
Key returnees: Jordan Bonser and C.J. Price, seniors; Sam Grimes and Stuart Luhigo, juniors; Will Riley, sophomore
Top newcomers: A.J. Linville and Josh Sirkin, seniors; Kobe Keithley, Chase Monroe and Brett Odgers, juniors; Henry Barrett, Jeremiah Carter, Sam Cassel and Alex Kramer, sophomores
Outlook: “We have a fun group of guys on the team this year. C.J. Price is our Swiss Army knife. His specialty is high jump, but he can also long jump, hurdle and take a relay leg,” Williams said. “Jordan Bonser, Sam Grimes and Will Riley are going to be our leaders on the track; they all performed well at regional last year. After graduating two of the area’s better throwers in Dylan Mayhew and Brayden Gardner, we’re looking for some of our younger guys to make up those points.”
Greenwood Christian Cougars
Coach: Andre Dobson
Key returnees: Carson Dillard, senior
Top newcomers: Trey Dobson and Nathan Goins, freshmen
Outlook: “Our top goals are to have fun and grow together as a team and family,” first-year coach Dobson said. “Strengths are we have amazing, hard-working athletes. They all really want to learn and get better.”
Indian Creek Braves
Coach: Brady Devine
Key returnees: Chris Parsley, Carson Ringer, E.J. Woodke and Logan Woodrum, seniors; Lance Butler, Jackson Neibert and Caleb Yount, juniors; Henry Fleetwood, Luke Neibert and Levi Pappas sophomores
Top newcomers: Trent Volz, junior; Bobby Emberton and Malachi Mink, sophomores; Grant Dalton, Noah Greenwood and Casey Seitzinger, freshmen
Outlook: “The distance team is young and deep, and will be a great strength for us all season, led by Luke Neibert,” Devine said. “Sprints have gotten significantly stronger with new additions, and boys returning who have gotten faster and stronger. It’s a much deeper team overall compared to a year ago with tons of potential on the roster.”
Coach: Brandon Bangel
Key returnees: Dalton Hughes, Jamal Nyonteh, Scott Parrish and Tayton Schakel, seniors; Matthew Nino, Benian Walls and Matthew Wray, juniors; Nyrius Moore-Smith, sophomore
Top newcomers: Elliott Spangler, senior; Carlos Ogega, sophomore; Will Watson, freshman
Outlook: The Warriors could be among the best in the Mid-State Conference, led by Parrish, who was fifth at state last spring in the pole vault, and Wray, who took 11th in the 200 and was part of the 17th-place 4×100 relay that also brings back Parrish and Nyonteh.
“The team has a good deal of talent at the top of our lineup. We are returning most of our team from last year with several guys that have state meet experience, and a few others that have potential to make it this year,” Bangel said. “We are very young on the distance side, but make up for that almost everywhere else with experienced upperclassmen in almost every other event.
“I look for this team to finish better than we did last year at the Mid-State conference meet and to put several individuals on the podium at the state meet.”