Times Sports Editor
As fans and competitors enter Northview's track and field arena a glass case holds a list of school records for both the high school and junior high teams. The list is a who's who of some of the top athletes that the schools have produced over the years dating back as far as Kenny Rowan's 200-meter mark set back in 1984 (22.6).
On Tuesday night, Northview junior, Joel Whittington, etched his name in two different sets of records in two different events in a meet held at Greencastle High School.
Whittington raced to a school record 300 high hurdle time of 40.68 to edge past Kyle Thompson's 2001 mark of 40.7. Whittington also placed his name in the Greencastle stadium record books as he flashed across the finish line in the 200 meters with a time of 22.663.
The previous stadium mark was held by a trio of athletes as South Putnam's Bruce Bridgewater ran a 22.9 in the 200 on May 4, 1988. Greencastle's Doug Scamahorn tied that mark on April 23, 1992 and Edgewood's Luke Arnold equaled the mark on May 1, 2006.
Whittington also broke the stadium mark of 41.1 in the 300 hurdles that was most recently equaled in May 6, 2003.
For Whittington, and the Northview track and field teams, the hurdler is beginning to peak at the perfect time this season as the Big Four Meet, WIC Meet and state postseason approaches.
(Joel) had a great meet, he set the school record (in the 300 hurdles), which I think he'll break from here on out because the rest are big meets," Northview boys' head coach Chad Smith said. "In the 300 hurdles I think he can run about a 39 flat, which would be a decent time to get into the state finals. He's pretty close to that now. He also set a stadium record in the 200, which was a little controversial because the head judge said that (Whittington) outleaned (Greencastle's Steve Miller), but they tied them. That was a pretty good meet that he can set a stadium record, break a school record and win the 100 too. So he had a big meet for us."
"It means that I've got one of the goals I've been working toward. Now I've just got to break it again," Whittington said with a smile.
"My goal is to make it to (the state finals) and to see how I can fare there. Then after that, it's just going to be working on hurdles, weight lifting and overall training," Whittington said. "I'd like to get under 40 seconds in the 300 hurdles, in the 110 hurdles, get in the low 15's (seconds). In the 100 and 200-meter dash, just go after those records too."
The indoor and outdoor track seasons with the Knights is the culmination of a lot of work that Whittington has put in during the offseason, which included a very special trip.
Whittington was one of hundreds of international competitors chosen to represent the U.S. in the Down Under Sports Track & Field International Games. The event was conducted July 3-5, in Brisbane, Australia.
Whittington earned a gold medal in the 300 hurdles with a time of 40.97, which represented a personal best at that time. He also earned a bronze in the 110 hurdles at 15.98 and qualified for the finals in both the 200 and 400 meters. That experience was a testament to the versatility that Whittington can offer as the biggest meets of the season are on the horizon beginning with Saturday's Big Four Meet at Terre Haute South.
"He can run just about any event that we need him to run, except maybe the shot, discus and distance events," Smith said of Whittington's versatility. "I think once we get close to sectionals that we'll sit down and figure out what we wants to concentrate on and maybe move on in one of the two events, but maybe not both.
"We felt that we could benefit from Joel in more individual events," Smith continued. "Putting him in the 100 and 200 meters gives us a better shot in conference and a better chance in the Big Four Meet of maybe knocking off Terre Haute South. I think we're right in the race for the conference meet."
Whittington will have plenty of competition to push him in each of his events at the Western Indiana Conference Meet that takes place May 13 at Edgewood High School.
"Edgewood has a phenomenal 110 hurdler (John Brown) and he ran about 14.4 (actually 14.79), which if it was an automatic time is a state standard (time). (Joel) will definitely be pushed in the conference meet and also, West Vigo has an incredible 100 dash runner (Tyler Randolph), so he'll be pushed as the season goes on."