Each school has its strengths. For South Side, it is hurdles (Adrian Mable) and high jump (Aaron Thomas). For Wayne it is the sprints (Shamarcus Ford) and hurdles (Devon Stone). For Carroll, it's middle distance (Jon Harper) and pole vault (Tony Armstrong). For Homestead it is hurdles (Trevor Stanley) and distance (Brayden Law).
These athletes will score their points on Thursday. Many of them will win their respective events. But will it be enough to contribute to a team championship?
Heading into the post-season, the coach's state polls rank Wayne No. 3, Carroll No. 4 and South Side No. 10. Homestead narrowly lost to Carroll at the Northeast Hoosier Conference championships and then fell just short of Wayne at the Wayne Sectional last week.
But as all track fans know, the bigger the meet, the more important your top athletes become. Depth becomes less important and outstanding athletes, who can score 10 and 8 points in an event, are a premium. The interesting situation at Wayne is that all four teams have exactly that: top-level athletes who are favored to win events.
For South Side it is Mable, who is seeded No. 1 in the 110 hurdles and No. 5 in the 300 hurdles. But expect a top three finish in the 300 from Mable, who underpreformed in this event at last week's sectional. The Archers also have Thomas, seeded No. 1 in the high jump (and tied for third in the state) at 6-foot-8.
For Wayne, it is Ford, who is seeded third in the 100, second in the 400 and leads the Generals' third-seeded 1,600 relay. The Generals also have Stone who is seeded No. 2 in both hurdles events.
For Carroll, it is Harper who leads the No. 1 seeded (and defending state champion) 3,200 relay team and is seeded No. 1 in the 800 as well. Armstrong is seeded No. 3 in the pole vault.
For Homestead, it is Stanley, one of the best hurdlers in the state. If he were not in the same regional as Mable, well.... Still, Stanley is seeded No. 1 in the 300 hurdles and is seeded in the 100 and 400 relay. Law, the best freshman distance runner in the state, is seeded No. 3 in the 3,200.
Who will win? It is simple: the team who has enough of a supporting cast on Thursday. It will come down to the third and fourth-best athletes for each team.
Field events and the 3,200-relay begin at 6 p.m. The top three finishers in each event and relay gain automatic entry into the IHSAA championships to be held Friday, May 31 at Indiana University in Bloomington.