The Indiana High School Athletic Association Boys' Track and Field State Finals, showcase the fastest and highest flying young men the state has to offer. Individuals and relay teams qualify through the sectional and regional levels, whittling down the competitors until just a handful remain. Three of Putnam County's most outstanding young men, Hayden Stuckwisch and Tyler Hudson from Greencastle along with Joe Rumley from Cloverdale, were among the elite fortunate enough to advance as far as IU's Billy Hayes Track.
Each competitor had his own unique journey terminating in Bloomington, and for Stuckwisch, the story was surprise. After originally failing to qualify from the regional level in Evansville, the tables turned for the Tiger Cub junior, as his 6-4 jump was eventually deemed worthy of the Finals.
"We were very blessed to come here at all," Greencastle head coach Mike Schimpf said of Stuckwisch and Hudson, "putting everything in perspective we are very fortunate."
Stuckwisch's 6-4 height in the regional qualification round was good enough for the 26th seed, and from the beginning things were a bit tense for the Greencastle group. Hayden nearly scratched out on his third and final attempt at the beginning height of 6-feet 2-inches, clearing the pole by millimeters to advance. The next height was set at 6-4, and after some issues early on, Stuckwisch again cleared the obstacle, advancing to a 6-6 bar height. The task was too tall for 15 competitors, the Tiger Cub included.
After scratches and other various tiebreakers were calculated, Stuckwisch finished 12th out of 30 state finalists. Despite being just a junior, the competition was his final in a Greencastle uniform.
"Hayden is moving...to Brownstown," Schimpf said. "This was our one shot together to get do to this state business. I have nothing but hope for him to help them down there.
"He was our (by points) MVP this year and an integral part of our team."
Tyler Hudson, Stuckwisch's classmate, competed in the first of two heats in the 800-meter run on Saturday afternoon.
The Tiger Cub was shuffled back early on in the event, facing 12 other runners all crammed into six lanes of traffic. Finding it difficult to advance, Hudson would eventually finish in 25th place with a time of 1:59.83.
Despite the gloomy skies and unfortunate finish, Hudson was surprisingly upbeat about his season coming to a close.
"I can't really complain," he said following his 800 meters. "I consistently dropped time throughout the year. I'd say it's been a pretty successful year."
When asked to select a highlight from the season as a whole, Tyler was quick to respond.
"Oh, definitely making it to State," Hudson said enthusiastically. "I think it's everyone's goal. It's the big meet."
Coach Schimpf was exceedingly proud of his runner, offering a glimpse into what Hudson has in store for the summer and subsequent fall sports season.
"The most important part for Tyler is his upcoming Cross Country season," Schimpf said. "He should be one of the leaders on that team. Training is year-round. He's going to take some time off and get back to running 5Ks."
Putnam County's final entry into the IHSAA State Track and Field Meet was Cloverdale senior Rumley, seeded fifth in the entire state for the 800.
Expectations were understandably high heading into the second and final section of the 800M, but soon after the first 400 meters were in the books things began to unravel for the Clover.
Rumley was third heading across the halfway mark, quickly losing ground after that point. Around the second turn he slipped back towards sixth, losing even more ground through the final turns, eventually finishing near the tail end of his section with a time of 1:56.71, a disappointing 18th place overall.
"I felt good and suddenly they were just going by me," Rumley said, still out of breath. "I guess I wasn't used to the pace they were setting. I'm usually the one out in front.
"Last year I didn't even make it out of sectionals and this year I made it to the State finals. I wanted to work hard, do my best and break as many 800 records wherever I went."
Cloverdale head coach Andrew Tyler was supportive of his graduating runner.
"We're still really proud of him," Tyler mentioned. "The first thing he said to me after the race was that he felt a little slow and he wished he could have picked up the pace a little more. He hasn't run in traffic all year because he's always been out in front and you can't blame him for that.
"He's a great kid with a great work ethic and we're very proud of him."
Tyler will be attending Marian University in the fall to run track there, graduating in the top 10 of his senior class.
"It's been an honor to coach him the last few years. He's helped us grow our program, we're going to keep pushing to compete with the likes of Greencastle every year," Schimpf said.
Overall it was Lawrence Central running away with their first IHSAA Boys' State Track and Field title since 2004-05, finishing one spot better than their runner-up spot from a year ago. Futsum Zienasellassie completed just the third four-time event champion, winning the 3200 Meter Run by over 10 full seconds at 8:51.15, simultaneously destroying the former State Meet Record of 8:55.10 set by Rudy Chapa of Hammond High School in 1974-75. Ironically, Eugene Yates, the most recent four-time event champion (1937-40, 880 Yard Dash), had been honored earlier in the day.
IHSAA State Finals
High Jump -- T12. Hayden Stuckwisch, Greencastle (6-4)
800-meter run -- 18. Joseph Rumley, Cloverdale (1:56.71); 25. Tyler Hudson, Greencastle (1:59.83)