Sam Wood is as humble and hard-working as they come. His actions spoke much louder this past spring in becoming the KPC Media Group Boys Track and Field Prep of the Year.
Wood was a small team in himself in how superior of a talent he was in the four events he competed in in his junior season for Churubusco High School. It was all capped off by a state runner-up finish in the pole vault at the Indiana High School Athletic Association State Finals on May 31 on the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington.
Wood cleared the bar at 15 feet, 9 inches to set a new school record in placing second to Lawrence North senior Nathan Stone, who vaulted 16-6.
Wood also competed in the long jump at state and finished 10th at 22-1.75. He was a half-inch from scoring.
Wood won Marion Regional, Fort Wayne North Side Sectional and Northeast Corner Conference championships in the pole vault. He set a new NECC Meet record at 14-10, surpassing the mark of 14-5 from Fremont’s Jeremy Seiler in 2015.
In fact, Wood was a four-time NECC champion in the conference meet held at Garrett High School on May 10. He also won the long jump, the 110-meter hurdles and the 300 hurdles.
Wood was second in both the regional and sectional in the long jump. He set a new school record with a leap of 22-5 in the regional held at Marion High School on May 23.
Wood qualified for the regional in three events. The third event was the 300 hurdles after a third-place sectional finish.
The area Coach of the Year is Cliff Hannon from East Noble. He made Knight fans harken back to the glory years under coach Gary Ort from the late 1990s to the early 2010s, from the star power of the team’s big three Gage Ernsberger, Joe Painter and Dakota McClure to the strength in numbers.
An elevated level of commitment under Hannon has helped the Knights win their first sectional title since 2011. East Noble picked it up after finishing third in the Northeast 8 Conference Meet. It also finished second in its very own John Reed Relays.
Here’s the rest of the 30th annual KPC Media Group All-Area Boys Track and Field Team.
EAST NOBLE Joe Painter, Jr.
Painter qualified for state in the pole vault for the second time and finished sixth with one of the best vaults in Knights boys track and field history at 14-9. He also won sectional and Northeast 8 Conference titles in that event.
Gage Ernsberger, Jr.
Ernsberger won sectional and NE8 titles and placed third at regional and 16th at state in the high jump. His season-best height cleared of 6-7 is second best in program history.
Ernsberger also won the EN Sectional in the long jump with season-best leap of 20-9.75, which is eighth best in program history. He was also third in the NE8 Meet and 11th in the regional in the long jump.
Ernsberger was also a part of the Knights’ 4-by-400 relay.
Dakota McClure, Sr.
McClure finished 16th at state in the 100, and his season-best time of 11.07 seconds in that event is the fourth fastest in program history.
McClure won sectional titles in the 100 and the 200, and also qualified for regional as part of the Knights’ 4-by-100 and 4-by-400 relays. He was on the NE8 champion 4-by-100 relay team and also won conference titles in the 100 and 200.
In the regional, McClure was second in the 100 (11.14 seconds) and eighth in the 200 (22.9 seconds). The 4-by-100 relay was 10th in 44.60 seconds and East Noble’s 4-by-400 relay was 13th in 3:40.34.
McClure’s season-best time in the 200 of 22.44 seconds is third best in program history.
CHURUBUSCO Tanner Allen, Sr.
Allen carried on a strong throwing tradition at Churubusco by winning sectional and NECC championships in the shot put. He threw the shot 49-11 at the North Side Sectional, then scored in the regional at Marion High, placing sixth at 48-3.5.
WESTVIEW Spencer Carpenter, So.
Carpenter qualified for state in the 1,600 after winning regional, sectional and NECC titles in the event. He placed 23rd at state in Bloomington. His best postseason run in the 1,600 was 4:15.89 at the Marion Regional.
Carpenter was also the sectional champion and NECC runner-up in the 3,200. He was fifth at sectional in 9:40.19.
4-by-800-meter relay, Remington Carpenter, So.; Dylan Nowicki, Jr.; Anthony Schwartz, Jr.; and Martin Miller, Jr.
This relay team finished sixth at state in 7:54.59 after winning sectional and NECC titles. The quartet was third in the regional in 7:53.93 to qualify for state.
Nowicki stood out on his own by winning regional and sectional championships in the 800 on his way to a state finals berth. He was 15th at state in 1:56.98.
ANGOLA Ben Villafuerte, Sr.
Villafuerte threw the discus at state and also qualified for the regional in the shot put.
In the discus, Villafuerte finished 24th in the state at 125-3 after placing third in the regional at 143-11. He was the NECC champion in the event.
Villafuerte was the East Noble Sectional runner-up in both the shot put and discus.
Aaron Petrancosta, Sr.
Petrancosta made up half of a very strong 1-2 punch for the Hornets in the discus with Ben Villafuerte.
Petrancosta won the East Noble Sectional, chucking the discus 149-6. He was second to Villafuerte in the NECC Meet and fourth in the regional at 141-3.
Aaron Chao, Sr.
Chao split time with baseball and gave the Hornet track and field guys a boost during weekend meets and the postseason and helped them win the NECC Meet at Garrett on May 10.
Chao was part of Angola’s sectional and NECC champion 4-by-100 relay team. He also was sectional runner-up in the 100 and long jump to end his track and field season.
Izaiah Steury, Fr.
Steury ended a big freshman year of running by faring well in the regional in the 1,600 and the 3,200. He was fourth in the 1,600 in 4 minutes, 24.99 seconds and sixth in the 3,200 in 9:42.65.
FREMONT Kenny Laws, Sr.
Laws was a model student-athlete who grew into being a leader of his peers and an anchor for the teams he was a part of at Fremont. He finished his prep athletic career throwing the shot at the IHSAA State Finals and placed 20th on May 31 at 49-0.5.
Laws won the East Noble Sectional and set an FHS record in the shot put at 51-1. He was also second in both the Marion Regional and the NECC Meet in the event.
LAKEWOOD PARK Colton White, So.
White became the first Lakewood Park Christian student-athlete to qualify for an IHSAA Track and Field championship meet, making the big stage in the 800 in Bloomington on May 31. He finished 17th in the event in 1:58.36.
White was the Panthers’ leading scorer this past season and has at least played a role in six school records in the young history of LPC boys track and field. He has the 800, 400 and 1,600 records by himself, and is part of all three relay teams (4x800, 4x400 and 4x100) which have school records.
PRAIRIE HEIGHTS Zach Wiseman, So.
Wiseman is part of a strong upper class in the area track and field scene in the pole vault and was called back to state in that event after a sixth-place regional finish. He was also the East Noble Sectional runner-up and tied for third in the NECC Meet.
WEST NOBLE Jordan Shoemaker, Sr.
The Chargers’ most valuable athlete qualified for regional in three events: the 800 and 1,600 and as part of the 4-by-400 relay. At Marion, Shoemaker was seventh in the 800 and West Noble’s 4-by-400 relay placed 11th.
Shoemaker was the NECC runner-up in both the 1,600 and the 800.
Brandon Pruitt, Jr.
Pruitt piled up a lot of points in the sprint events for the Chargers. He was a part of the sectional runner-up 4-by-400 relay team.
Pruitt also made the regional in the 4-by-100 relay and the 100 dash. He was called back to regional in the 100 after placing fourth in the East Noble Sectional in 11.10. The three runners ahead of him (EN’s McClure, Angola’s Chao and Eastside’s Trey Staley) all ran faster than the state standard time of 10.94 seconds, led by McClure’s winning time of 10.80 seconds.
West Noble’s 4-by-100 and 4-by-400 relays were both NECC runners-up.
Nathan Mast, Jr.
Mast was the EN Sectional champion in the 400 and a valuable relay guy for the NECC Western Division champion Chargers. He was part of the 4-by-400 and 4-by-800 relay teams that qualified for regional.
EASTSIDE Trey Staley, Sr.
Staley was the NECC champion in the 100 and 200 and went on to qualify for regional in both of those events and as part of the Blazers’ 4-by-100 relay. He was a sectional runner-up in the 200, and will run track and play football at NCAA Division III Anderson University.
At the Marion Regional, Staley placed fourth in the 100 and ninth in the 200.
GARRETT Kaleb Krontz, So.
Krontz stepped up in a wide-open field in the hurdle events in the East Noble Sectional and won two sectional titles on May 16, finishing the 110 hurdles in 15.6 seconds and the 300 hurdles in 40.9 seconds.
Krontz scored in the regional with an eighth-place finish in the 300 hurdles at 41.24 seconds. He was also 12th in the 110 hurdles at Marion. He was third in both hurdles races in the NECC Meet.
Honorably mentioned to the all-area team are East Noble’s Austin Liepe, Westview’s Kent Yoder, Prairie Heights’ Skyler Cummings, West Noble’s Kyle Mawhorter and Hamilton’s Marko Stanojcic.