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1. Hocker's "Triple"

Will he or won't he? That's been the question and as we approach the final stages before the gun is fired, things are still up in the air. Here is what we KNOW. Cole Hocker of Indianapolis Cathedral WILL be running THREE events in the IHSAA tournament. The latest "rumors" have him slated to compete in the 1600, 800, and 4x400 meter relay. If that is the case, RECORDS become the story line. Austin Mudd's 1:48/4:04 are in serious jeopardy. Earlier in the week, it was rumored to be 1600, 800, 3200 which would be unprecedented. If THAT still turns out to be the case, then it becomes about TEAM POINTS and recovery time. We will find out soon enough.

Update: As expected, Hocker has cruised to individual victories thus far in the tournament at both 1600 and 800 meters. He did attempt to “triple” but not the relay one might have expected. Indianapolis Cathedral’s 4x400 meter relay team did not advance out of the North Central (Indy) Regional which will cap Mr. Hocker at 20 points. His 4x800 meter relay squad (ranked #1 in Indiana) did advance but posted a less than optimal 8:07 and will need to pull a repeat performance from 2018 out of the first heat in Bloomington this Friday. Record-chasing seems to have become the main focus for Cole and the Indianapolis Cathedral coaching staff now.

2. The Fall out from Cole's Decision

Cole Hocker's decision will affect more than just he and his teammates as distance runners everywhere are looking for their best shot at state medals and a potential state title. If the 3200 is the race that Cole decides to sit out, then expect it to be a windy night tonight despite what weather forecasts might say. That wind would be air being exhaled from the lungs of various elite distance runners around the Hoosier state. A tired Hocker in the 3200 would be must watch television (though we recommend our webcast) but an absent Hocker would also be intriguing as it would be a great opportunity for a fellow elite distance runner to get some well deserved glory and an elusive state title.

Update: The decisions are now final as distance athletes across the state have made their choices on how to attack the state finals in terms of what event(s) to run. Cole will be fresh for the 1600 and has not really been tested all season, but there are some elite names to keep an eye on behind him. The 4x800 studs (Carpenter and Meyer?) will be seeking blue medals in the relay and try to come back and medal in the 1600. Will they let others with fresh legs chance Cole and then chew up the leftovers in the final 200? Will everyone just let him go? In the 3200, three fresh athletes (Jesse Hamilin, Reece Gibson, and Caleb Futter) are our favorites with Ryan Ruppert (Homestead), Alex Frey (North Central (Indy)) and a few others in the chase pack. Let’s also not kid ourselves. We are not completely convinced that Cole is the favorite in the 800 as other fresh athletes (Dustin Hudak, Gabe Sanchez and others) posted some eye popping performances at the regional.

3. How Big are Jahn's Shoulders?

Pike's Jahn Riley called his shot after last week's Marion County Meet stating he "wants to be Pike's Michael Johnson." The Red Devil speedster is entered in five events in the tournament but will obviously have to make a choice. His BEST event is the 200, but with the current setup that would be his SIXTH race of the day if he remains in the 400. Pike's team title hopes hinge on his ability to score big points every time he steps on the track as the Red Devils do not have many points elsewhere (see the high jump below). How far can he carry them?

Update: Riley continues to roll and is not holding back or feeling sorry for anyone in his way while doing so. The Pike junior has embraced the challenge of a state meet quadruple and is in line to go down in history if he can pull off the unthinkable this weekend. We stated that we think that he will not win any individual events at the state finals and are wavering a bit (official predictions will be released Thursday) on that prediction but even if it holds true, Riley could rack up nearly THIRTY points at the state finals. Based on regional performances, he enters Friday ranked 5th in the 100, 2nd in the 200, 3rd in the 400 and is listed on Pike’s 4x100 (ranked 8th) and 4x400 (ranked 2nd). We praised Isaac Guerendo of Avon last year for his super human effort in leading the Orioles to the team title, but this would top that.

4. Records in Danger

We see THREE records (depending on Hocker's route) that are in jeopardy. Lawrence North vaulter Nathan Stone has run roughshod through the Hoosier state virtually unchallenged all season. That may still be the case as his main challenger in Bloomington may be the state record book. The Wildcat pole vaulter's best mark is 17'-06.00" which ties Colton Crum of Frankfort for the state meet record. Deakin Voltz's all-time state record is also in danger if Stone has a good day. As mentioned above, if Cole Hocker decides to go 1600/800 and mother nature cooperates, make sure you are not at the concession stand for those two events as you should be on the edge of your seat.

Update: Not much has changed in the potential record breaking department as Stone and Hocker have rolled in the first two rounds and neither has blinked. Stone took some shots at 18 feet at the regional but could not pull it off. Will the atmosphere at the state finals and the drama produced help the Lawrence North senior get it done? Stay tuned.

Hocker has done what he needed to grab wins and qualify in both the 1600 and 800 meter runs. We are spoiled as he “only” posted a 4:11/1:51 double at North Central (Indy) last week. As mentioned in our girls preview, Mother Nature ultimately may have the final say when it comes to record-setting at at the time we are publishing this article, weather conditions look favorable. It’s Indiana however folks, and we know how quickly things can change.

5. "The Region" vs "The Nap"

Central Indiana has dominated the leaderboard in the sprints all spring...until late last week. The Duneland Athletic Conference Meet provided some blazing times in the short races and the 4x100/4x400 meter relays as many sub 11 second dashes and a new state leader in the 4x100 (Portage) emerged. Qualifying through to Bloomington will be the first task, but once there it will be a fun watch to see which geographical location claims to be the "king of the sprints."

Update: Central Indiana is going to be tough to beat in this battle as Marion and Hamilton County qualified a combined SEVEN athletes in the 100 meter dash and SEVEN in the 200 meter dash and hold many of the top regional performances. Lake/Porter county qualified three in the 100 and three in the 200. We’d be shocked if this script flipped as the two most populous regions in the state flexed their muscle all spring long.

6. A High Jump Battle

Nathan Patterson of Plymouth spoiled us with his state record of 7'-04.00" last spring as we will not see that feat duplicated, but the high jump should still provide some intrigue. Pike's Lawrence Marshall and Lawrence Central's Kameryn Garrett have battled all spring and will do so two more times, if all plays out like we expect. They are by no means "locks" to take home the top two spots as there are many worthy contenders nipping on their heels, but don't let the action on the track distract you from what should be a great battle in the high jump pit.

Update: The battle between Garrett and Mitchell continued at the regional as both cleared 6’-10.00” in punching their ticket to the state finals. Neither athlete blinked but they need to peak over their shoulder periodically as others (Krutsch of Penn, Alsup of Harrison, Hawkins of Bedford North Lawrence) athletes are closing the gap. In all, THIRTY athletes hit the standard of 6’-04.00” at the regional which is unprecedented. Get a chair and some sunscreen ready if you plan watching the high jump marathon at the state finals. It will be action-packed and not short on drama.

7. Long Jump Depth

Despite the lackluster weather, the long jump run way has been hot all spring. NINE jumpers have surpassed the 23 foot mark at one point in time as depth is something to gawk at. After the state finals last season, many were ready to anoint Brownsburg's Pierce Thomas as the future of the event. While that still may be the case, there are a handful of upperclassmen in the Hoosier state that can steal the long jump title on May 31st. Popping that one jump and adjusting to the run way will be the keys to success for anyone wishing to leave Bloomington with that blue medal around their neck.

Update: Add another couple over 23 feet! Wow. Oak Hill senior Sammy Sommers stole the show at the regional level as he posted the top regional mark en route to a repeat all-state bid in the long jump. Northwestern’s Tayson Parker still holds the state’s top mark of the spring and Thomas is lurking. We are not backing away from our prediction that this will be THE field event to watch on Friday afternoon. Get there early, settle in and grab some popcorn so you can enjoy the show. We cannot wait.

8. The Throws/Team Impact

Though often ignored, the throwing events will play a large role in determining our eventual team state champion. While it is fun to look at leaderboards and predict performances, it is often tough...but not as much in the throwing events. Like the long jump mentioned above, it only takes one throw to make magic happen and most of the elites will get 6 opportunities. Though team points are hard to predict, throwing events are usually fairly "safe" within 3-5 points of their seed. That being said, North Central, Brownsburg and Fishers' fate in the team standings will be largely impacted by what happens in the shot put and discus rings.

Update: We will discuss the team race in greater detail below but what we can tell you is that the pressure is on a couple of throwers on contending teams as their margin for errors have shrunk over the past two weeks. North Central (Indy)’s Ethan Alyea will need to put his team on his back and return to top form (60/180 feet) to help his team’s chances. Hayden Tobias and Wyatt Puff need to return to their April form to give the Fishers Tigers a chance and Brownsburg’s Reis Thomas needs to make a run at the discus title as his teammate did not qualify out of the regional despite posting one of the top regular season marks in the state. The discus and long jump take place simultaneously so its impossible to be in two spots at once. The team race will begin taking shape early in the meet.

9. 4x400/4x800 Unknowns

Due to poor weather and a lack of racing opportunities, the leaderboards for the 4x400/4x800 have been a bit underwhelming. That will all change over the next week however as teams will be poised to stack their lineups and get in those final heats in Bloomington. The story on these two events will take shape and be fascinating to watch over the next couple of weeks.

Update: Not to pat ourselves on the back, but we told you. The question marks surrounding these events entering the tournament were aplenty. While there are still questions lurking, the perceived “down year” in these two events was premature. The 4x400 should be a fascinating watch as ELEVEN, yes 11 teams are seeded within TWO seconds of one another. In the 4x800, the Marion and Lafayette Regionals dominated the regional performance lists and our two state leaders entering the tournament (Indianapolis Cathedral and North Central (Indy)) did what was necessary to qualify despite not posting amazing times. Should be great viewing to start AND end the meet on Friday.

10. The Team Race

We set the magic number at 40 back in March and are sticking to it. One team may surprise and blow that out of the water (see Avon last year) but we don't see many teams capable as there is a lot of balance across the state. Indianapolis Cathedral and Pike are relying heavily on super stars while North Central, Brownsburg, Fishers, Carmel (no we are not counting them out) have a lot more balance. If those teams slip up, keep an eye on Ben Davis, Warren Central, Portage, Hamilton Southeastern or Evansville Central to make things interesting.

Update: Forty points would be a steep hill for any of the contending teams after what we witnessed in the first two rounds. We hyped up the closeness of the team race last year and Avon stepped on everyone’s throat midway through the meet. We won’t say never, but we don’t see that team emerging in 2019. Pike has emerged as the favorite on paper as Riley hulked up and did damage in four events and is set to possibly lead the Red Devils to their first state title. North Central (Indy), Brownsburg and Indianapolis Cathedral have been a bit underwhelming and left potential state meet points on the table. Fishers won the Lafayette Jefferson Regional and looks poised to pounce as does county rival Hamilton Southeastern. Evansville Central, Warren Central, Ben Davis, Carmel, Portage and Harrison (West Lafayette) are also lurking. We coined 2018 as the closest team race ever, and may have just been premature by a year.

See you Friday!

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