By Jeff Robison
— The No. 5-ranked Ben Davis boys’ track team left no doubt as to its strength as the Giants rang up first-place finishes in 11 of 16 events and advanced to regional in all 16 events as they won the IHSAA Track Sectional team title last Thursday at Ben Davis High School.
Ben Davis scored 201 team points and topped second place Southport (93 points) by 108 points.
Along the way, the Giants swept all three relays and were paced by the meet’s individual star, junior Moussa Conde, who ran one relay leg and claimed three individual events.
Veteran Ben Davis coach Mike Davidson had plenty of big performances to laud with his team after the meet.
“We expected to do well just looking at the seeds,” Davidson said. “Our goal was to get as many guys as possible to move through, and we were pretty close to reaching our goals. Our field events really took care of business. I was pleased with our distance crew, and our sprint/hurdles group did a great job — that’s a testament to our coaches and our whole program.”
While the host Giants were making the most noise throughout the meet, Westside neighbor Covenant Christian scored 10 points across four events and claimed a single berth in next week’s regional competition back at Ben Davis.
But the day belonged to Conde, a junior whose individual wins included an unusual combination of the 110 meter hurdles, the 300 meter hurdles (over teammate Antione Sturges), and the pole vault. Conde capped off his night with running a leg on the 4x400 relay squad with teammates Aaron Murray, Derrick Jones, and Jaylen Hogan.
“I know that I still have to get better and run faster and jump higher,” Conde said. “I’m tired, but I feel great. The coaches have taught me to adjust and helped me to get to be the best I can be on the track, both mentally and physically.”
The Giants opened the night by claiming the 4x800 meter relay with the combination of Timothy Anderson, Hogan, Robert Sharkey, and Antonio Futrell. In between the opening 4x800 and finishing 4x400 relay wins, Ben Davis’ Jeremy Chappelle, James Compton, JaJaun Green, and Harold West sizzled into first place in the 4x100 relay with a 41.91 clocking, a number that beat the state meet standard by more than half of a second.
Beside their relay legs, Compton, Murray, and West earned individual sectional first-place finishes. Compton was the pace setter in the 200 meters, while Murray was fastest in the 400 meters. West’s first place came on the field as he won the high jump by topping 6-4.
Ben Davis took first in two of the remaining three field events. The Giants went 1-2 in the long jump with Errick Roberts (22-02 feet) edging teammate Jaymin Miles (22-00) as both leaped beyond the state standard. Zubin Coleman won first in the discus with his opening throw of 151-03 feet.
The Ben Davis team depth shone through as the Giants had two individual regional qualifiers in seven events — 110 meter hurdles, 300 meter hurdles, 800 meters, long jump, high jump, pole vault, and discus.
Covenant Christian sophomore Benjamin Byrd ran a personal best 4:36.53 in the 1600 meters to get the last regional qualifying spot in that event. The Warriors’ Ryan Grondahl was the other individual scorer for his team, with a seventh-place finish at 200 meters. The 4x400 relay (seventh) and 4x800 relay (eighth) gained the other points for coach Ben Creighton.
“(Ben) has really been improving a lot, and this was a good culmination of his season,” Creighton said. “We pushed as far as we could physically, and held our own and got some points on the board.”
Other Ben Davis regional qualifiers include Chappelle (second in the 100), Frank Rhodes (fourth in the 110 hurdles), Futrell ( second in the 1600), Anderson (second in the 800), Rudolph Bowens (third in the 800), Sharkey (fourth in the 3200), DeAndre Bluitt (third in the high jump), Justin Brandon (third in the discus), Moussa Sylla (third in the pole vault), and Dion Rogers (third in the shot put).
Ben Davis, a first time track regional host, will present one of the eight regionals in the state on Thursday night. Ben Davis sectional qualifying athletes will compete against those advancing from Muncie Central, North Central, and Mount Vernon (Fortville) sectionals. Starting time is slated for 6 p.m.