WARSAW – Matt Thacker knows the competitive edge from his team will be there come Thursday night for sectional action.
The Warsaw boys track coach hopes to see a couple of other things as his team begins postseason competition.
“We just need a little more focus in a few events and a little more urgency now to get where we want to be,” said Thacker. “It’s all about how many guys we get through to the regional.”
The No. 7 Tigers are the cream of the crop at the Goshen Sectional and the odds-on favorite to win their third straight team title. Warsaw took the trophy in 2012 with 130 points to easily outdistance runner-up Elkhart Memorial (95.5). Warsaw then went on to finish second at the Kokomo Regional, edged 83-82 by Penn.
Warsaw claimed the NLC Meet title for the third straight year at home on May 7. The Tigers, led by distance stars Robert Murphy and Jake Poyner, piled up 169.33 points to outdistance Northridge (116.5).
Poyner, who will run at Wake Forest, is the top seed in both the 1,600 and the 3,200 for the sectional. Murphy, who is bound for Vincennes, tops the field in the 800 and has the second fastest seed times in both the 1,600 and 3,200.
Poyner won the 3,200 at the NLC Meet, while Murphy set a conference record in the 800 and also won the 1,600.
The Tigers also have the top seed in the shot put in junior Seth Fouts and the fastest time in the 4 X 800 relay. Fouts won his specialty at the NLC Meet.
“We’ve had plenty of time to rest and to tweak our roster,” said Thacker. “Overall, I’m just looking for our guys to give the best they’ve got on Thursday.
Warsaw had three individual champions at last year’s sectional as Poyner won the 1,600, Murphy claimed the 3,200 and Stephen Kolbe won the high jump. The Tigers also won both the 4 X 400 and 4 X 800 relay events in 2012.
“Our guys have a desire to compete and this is the time of the year we look for personal bests,” Thacker said. “We’ve peaked at this time of the season in the past and we hope to continue that trend starting Thursday. Our coaching staff does a great job having our kids ready for the postseason.”
Wawasee, which finished in fifth place at the NLC Meet, will be led Thursday by a pair of sophomores. Clayton Cook is the top seed in both hurdles races for the Warriors and classmate JJ Gilmer has the top seed in the high jump (6-7) and the second seed in the long jump for coach Scott Lancaster.
Cook won both hurdles races at the NLC Meet and Gilmer was second in both the high jump and long jump. Cook placed second in the 110 hurdles at the sectional a year ago.
The field at Goshen features Warsaw, Wawasee, Concord, Elkhart Central, Elkhart Christian Academy, Elkhart Memorial, Fairfield, Goshen, Jimtown, Lakewood Park Christian, Northridge and NorthWood.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the Kokomo Regional on May 23.
Field events at Foreman Field in Goshen begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The finals of the 4 X 800 relay will be contested at 6 p.m. with running trials starting at 6:30 and running finals at 7:30.