Track & Field (Co-Ed Varsity)

Springs Valley track and field set for success in 2024

By Jordyn Land | Mar 14, 2024 12:00 AM


In 21 years of Derek Freeman's coaching career he has coached over 37 sectional champions in track and field. He has coached 17 girls and 20 boys to a sectional win. Last year was another of those successful seasons, as the Blackhawks won seven individual championships when sectional came around. Alan Marshall won the 800-meter run and the mile himself, then also teamed up with Carson Brown, Grant Brown, and Max Pendley to win the 3,200-meter relay championship. Larron Childers swept the throws at the Bedford North Lawrence Sectional, winning both the shot put and discus titles. The Blackhawk girls also saw success in the throws as Sarah Drabing won the discus title and Ella Meehan repeated as shot put champion at the Seymour Sectional. The Blackhawks lost six seniors after last year’s success. Brynne Buchnanan, Macy Hall and Drabing departed the girls’ team. The ‘Hawks lost Ezra Mills, Pendley and Allen Ward from the boys’ team, but there are so many contributors returning. Drabing was a big loss for the girls. She was a big asset for the throwers, having qualified for regional twice in discus. The ‘Hawks have also been hurt by injuries. Meehan is sidelined with a knee injury and Leigh Carnes is out with a foot injury .The throwers do have some experience coming back this year though with sophomore Jordyn Land and junior Aubrey Bledsoe. The girls also have a newcomer in sophomore Addi Russell. ‘’Losing sectional champions like Sarah Drabing and Ella Meehan hurts, but we've got some experience coming back. We've got Jordyn Land who is in her second year and she's shown a lot of potential. Aubrey Bledsoe is working really, really hard on her form. Then we've got Addi Russell who's coming out for the first time and we're just doing what we should be doing early in the year and we're really working on form and trying to be technically sound,” Freeman said. “That's one of the big things we do and we emphasize that. I feel like it's a strength of ours is making sure we’re really good on our technique.’’ Larron Childers and Teagun Rominger are back to lead the way for the boys’ throwers. Junior Deion Edwards is also back for discus; same with Ian Robbins, another junior. The boys’ have two sophomore newcomers this year in Ethan Parker and Augie Purkhiser. Childers had an outstanding year last year, making it all the way to the State Finals. After winning a pair of sectional titles, he missed out on the regional title in discus by only two feet. He’s hoping to be even better this year. ‘’Larron is much more technically sound with his discus now. He's more aware of what's what he's doing right and what's doing wrong. So he can kind of feel things when they're not right in the ring. That's a big thing for him to have training wise so that he can kind of test and know what to work on before I'm even able to put eyes on him telling me he needs to work on something,” Freeman said. “I'm excited to see what he can do with all the improvements he's made in those areas of strength and explosiveness and speed and technique.’’ The boys graduated one distance runner with Pendley moving, but even with him taking his talent to Vincennes University, the Blackhawks have a wealth of talent in the distance events. Marshall, Grant Brown, Carson Brown, Andre Ayres, Harry Dybsetter, Henry Dybsetter, Keaton Thacker, Matthew Woolsey, and Dane Harris all bring something to the table. The seniors—Grant Brown and Alan Marshall—have accomplished so much in the four years they ran for the track team and the cross county team, including being named Class 1A All-State for the 2023 cross country season. That was Grant's third consecutive All-State honor and the second for Marshall. Ayres is also starting to catch people’s eyes and is becoming a really great runner and asset for the team. ‘’I think the biggest thing that cross country has done is develop the depth that we need. Last year we put a lot of weight on Grant and Alan’s shoulders and Carson too. Now Andre is starting to step up and run some really fast times. A lot of people won't take notice of Andre, but Andre’s doing things that were you know, pretty much unheard of around here before Alan, Grant and Carson started doing them,’’ Freeman said. “We have to look at things in perspective and see where he's at and he’s making a lot of strides and then you add in those other guys and they're just a lot faster. They're a lot stronger.’’ The boys’ team last year had a great performance at sectional, but weren’t able to win. Freeman’s got nearly everyone back this season along with some new athletes like Konner Chase and Keaton Pritchett. Another athlete returning is Christian Hamiltion who broke the school record in long jump and is an outstanding athlete with many more records to break in front of him. Overall the boys’ team is filled with a bunch of athletes who could possibly bring home a sectional title. ‘’I think the biggest thing is we have to be healthy and fresh come sectional time. Last year I thought we had some really good performances at the end of the year, we were hitting our stride, and then, just part of the sport, we had some injuries. I thought we were on the right track last year and they just kind of had a couple injuries hit us at the wrong time,” Freeman said. “Health is going to be an important thing for us and just being really patient and intelligent with how we develop our team. We've added a lot of younger kids and some new kids that I think can provide some depth, so I think just the big thing is going to be take our increased talent, work on our weaknesses, and make them strengths.’’ The Blackhawk girls have returned a pair of key contributors from last season, senior Miya Campbell and sophomore Kinsey Saliba. These two athletes had a great season along with great accomplishments. Campbell was a regional qualifier in long jump. Kinsey Saliba unfortunately did not compete in sectionals due to an injury, but is back this year taking on new events: the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles. There are some others returning as well with high jumper Tori McCormick and distance runner Sophie Harris back. Sophie Harris placed second in the 3200-meter run at sectional in 2023. ‘’I think they're going to be very important because we've done some switching with Kinsey to some different events. It's going to provide us a little more depth across different events. I think they're very vital in leading us, but I also think that we have so many other talented girls that fill in holes,” Freeman said. “Sophie had such an amazing cross country season and we're just excited to see what she can do and her versatility and we've got some other very talented people: Tori is a great high jumper.’’ The Blackhawks will start their season on Thursday, March 14 at Jasper Middle School due to remodeling at Jasper High School track. It should be a big meet with some pretty big, impressive schools there. As the ‘Hawks get into that first meet, they’ll try to focus on their own performances and continuing to improve. ‘’We have to be able to keep our eyes on comparing ourselves to ourselves. We can't get caught up in what other people are doing and what other schools are doing. The competition is pretty darn stiff considering we're going up against Jasper Evansville North and Evansville Memorial,” Freeman said. “I think perspective on who we are and who we're going up against is the biggest thing is to remember. We have to compare ourselves to ourselves and really take whatever comes out on Thursday and improve from there and use it as a stepping stone into our season. If we get caught up on how we do against those bigger schools, it's probably going to be demoralizing, so I think we really have to focus on ourselves and only ourselves.” Springs Valley Blackhawks Last season: PLAC — Boys 1st, Girls T-2nd | Sectionals — Boys 3rd, Girls 5th | Regionals — Boys 15th, Girls 29th Coach: Derek Freeman Athletes to know: Carson Brown (Jr.), Grant Brown (Sr.), Miya Campbell (Sr.), Larron Childers (Sr.), Christian Hamilton (Jr.), Sophie Harris (Jr.), Alan Marshall (Sr.), Tori McCormick (Sr.), Kinsey Saliba (So.) Meets to circle: May 3 at PLAC, May 7 at County Meet, May 14 at Girls’ Sectional, May 16 at Boys’ Sectional