Times Sports Editor
Determination and mental toughness will go a long way in determining how things play out for both the Northview Knights and Clay City Eels in today's Terre Haute North Boy's Track and Field Sectional.
The Knights would like to say that they have a stranglehold on third place behind defending champion Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South, but several other teams have designs on that spot according to coach Jeff Gambill.
"It should be a tight battle for third place between us, South Vermillion, Linton, and Shakamak. We are most interested in getting individuals on to regional however."
In order to beat out those teams, Northview needs a top effort in their areas of strength.
"Distance, throws, hurdles, pole vault and all relays," are where Gambill feel his team has the best chance of scoring big points.
Soccer standout John Latta, a rookie to the track team, has been a big plus to a team that has had some ups and downs this year. His performance under the sectional microscope could be just the boost the Knights need for third place.
"He will be leading off the 4 X 800, 1600, and 800," said Gambill of Latta. "He has been our most consistent performer this year."
Last year Northview didn't run anyone in the 1,600 meters, but Latta gives the Knights a strong contender for a regional spot in the event with sophomore Conor Strain also jockeying for a spot in the next round.
Shakamak senior Anthony Witt is the top seed having already reached the state finals standard with a seeded time of 4:20. South's Andrew Sullivan and North's Zach Mayhew should also be in contention.
For Clay City, freshman Jessie Vansickle's performance will also be important along with Parker Modesitt.
The Eels have plenty of youth in this year's sectional featuring freshmen or sophomores in 10 different events.
Besides Vansickle (freshman) and Modesitt (sophomore) in the distance events, Kyle Seymour (sophomore) is running in the 200 and 4x400 relay while freshman Ethan Shaw is competing in the 4x400 and 300 hurdles and Jacob Payne is in both throwing events.
Northview's Landry Moore has become a strength of the middle distance running events this year and hopes to improve on his WIC finishes.
According to Gambill, Moore will run two-of-three relay events.
"We have moved him out of the sprints back into middle distance. (Moore) will be running the 4 X 800, 800, and 4 X 400 relay," said Gambill.
The 3,200 relay team that also includes Kolby Henke and Eli Kirby is the second seed behind Terre Haute North and Moore holds a third seed in the 800 ahead of Latta.
The 4x100 relay team has a solid shot at making the regional as well, though it will require a top effort according to Gambill.
"Our best chance is in the 400 relay where we are seeded seventh, but the time difference between fourth and seventh is 1/10th of a second," said the Knights' coach.
In the sprinting events, Clay City has both Ryan Sutton and Garry Payne running the 100 meters and Seymour joining Payne in the 200. For the Knights, Corey Crowder and Jason Hakman will compete in the 100 meters.
The Patriots' Shaun Smith is looking to repeat his double victories in the 100 and 200 and is favored to do so after reaching the state standard in the 100 with a 10.84 and the 200 with a 21.90. South Vermillion freshman James Craigmyle has also reached the mark in the 200 with a 22.10.
Hakman and Zach Boetjer are scheduled to compete in the 200 for the Knights.
Henke and Moore have 400 meter duty for the Knights in an event where the top eight seeds are separated by barely a second.
In the hurdles, sophomore Jared Tiefel and Orry Heffner are competing for the Eels with the Knights' Griffin Maurer and freshman Joel Whittington.
Sullivan's Eugene Bradford is the top seed at 15.00, a half second faster than the competition.
The 300 hurdles is again paced by Bradford, with a 40.20. Heffner, Shaw, Maurer and Whittington will be running for the Knights and Eels.
Northview's throwers have come on during the second half of the season with the help of a former sectional champion teammate.
Neil Vanatti, the 2005 shotput champion, has been working with the Knights' throwers this season.
Jordan Keller and Ross Crooks are competing in the discus for the Knights and Mitch Haviland joins Keller in the shotput.
"Havilland and Keller are seeded fourth and fifth in the shot put. Neil Vanatti has been an enormous help in coaching the throws this year," said Gambill. "The hard work of the athletes and coach Vanatti's help has really made a difference."
Payne is competing in the shot and discus events for Clay City.
Injury will keep one Northview athlete out of competition, but in the pole vault Jordan Maurer is seeded sixth at 11-6, but Jared Royer will be out following an ankle injury suffered in the conference meet.
The top four finishers in each event at the sectional qualify for the Evansville Central Regional on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. central time.
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