The Warsaw boys track team walked away from the Kokomo Regional a year ago with a championship by one single point.
The Tigers would not mind if history repeats itself come Thursday night.
The challenge is a tall one for No. 7 Warsaw in a talented field at Kokomo. Warsaw coach Matt Thacker points to No. 8 Penn as the team to beat. The Kingsmen edged Warsaw 67-65 in a dual meet early in the season to hand the Tigers their lone loss this spring.
“It’s a tough call, but I think Penn is the favorite and deservedly so,” said Thacker. “They have 24 athletes participating and they have a lot of opportunities to score points in multiple events. Plus, they have been getting better week after week. Kokomo as well has very good athletes running and will be up there when it is all said and done.”
“In order for us to have a shot we need run our race and let the chips fall where they may.”
Gates open at Kokomo High School at 5 p.m. Thursday. Field events begin at 6 p.m. with trials at 6:30 and finals at 7:30.
The top three finishers in each event and any other competitors making the state standard earn a spot in the State Finals June 2 at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Warsaw edged out Kokomo 58-57 to win the program’s third regional title in 2011. Penn, which last won a regional in 2004, was sixth a year ago.
Both the Tigers and Kingsmen dominated to claim sectional titles last week. Warsaw won six events to claim its second straight title at Goshen with 130 points. Penn won seven events to win its own sectional.
Warsaw will be led by top seeds Spencer Rheinhardt, a senior, in the 800 (1:55.91) and junior Jacob Poyner in the 1,600 (4:22.32). Warsaw also has the second-fastest 3,200 relay team and sectional champions in sophomore Stephen Kolbe (high jump) and junior Robert Murphy (3,200). The Tigers also have its 1,600 relay team, which claimed a sectional title, and its 400 relay team in the regional.
The Tiger duo of juniors Wyatt Jones and Taylor Cone are each seeded in a pair of events. Jones in the 100 and 400 and Cone in both hurdle races. Also competing for WCHS will be sophomore Ellis Coon in the 1,600, sophomore Ryan Goon in the 300 hurdles, Poyner in the 800 and senior Zach Rooney in the high jump.
Wawasee will be represented in Kokomo by the tandem of freshman Clayton Cook and junior Jacob Schwartz. Cook will compete in the 110 hurdles and Schwartz in the shot put for coach Scott Lancaster’s Warrior program.
Sophomores Nolan Sponseller and Derrick Cunningham of Tippecanoe Valley are each entered in a pair of regional events. Sponseller will compete in the 200 and 400 with Cunningham in the long jump and high jump. Senior James Gregory is in the 110 hurdles for the Vikings.
Junior Trenton Stackhouse of Triton is slated to compete in the 1,600. Senior Tyler Ameigh will compete in the 110 hurdles for the Trojans.