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TELL CITY - Coach Chris Hollinden thinks Tell City's boys track team has enough balance to win its first conference title in 14 years.
The Marksmen have a deep team again, with 38 boys. It's even pretty balanced by classes, with 12 seniors and 13 freshmen.
The Marksmen have climbed from seventh to third to second in the PAC in Hollinden's first three years as coach.
Now Hollinden thinks they should be favored to win it, though they might not have as many individual standouts as they've had in some years.
"Every event but the high jump is going to be on par with the others," said Hollinden. "We will not lack in anything, but we won't really stick out in anything."
Actually the Marksmen do have two individual standouts in sprinter Kyle Kessinger and hurdler Zach Avallone, though Hollinden said Kessinger "has been battling a couple of injuries" this spring.
Kessinger won the 100-meter dash in the PAC last year and placed second in the 200.
He placed second in the 100 in the sectional in 11.45 seconds, just eight-hundredths of a second behind the winner, and third in the 200.
Patrick Swayne, a senior who did not run last year, will join him in those races. "He's running real well," said Hollinden.
Avallone won the 110-meter high hurdles in the PAC last year and placed second in the 300 intermediate hurdles.
He qualified for the finals in the 55-meter hurdles race at a statewide indoor meet March 15.
Freshmen David McDaniel and Tyler Dauby will likely join him in the 300 hurdles and Brad Zogopoulos will run the 110 hurdles.
Kessinger, Swayne, Avallone and "probably Dalton Sweeney" will run the 1600 relay, said Hollinden.
Kessinger and Swayne may also run the 400 dash, along with freshman Daniel Gonzalez, who set Tell City's junior high record in that race last year.
Since that race comes right after the 400 relay, Hollinden said Monday he is not sure who will run that short relay. "It's absolutely up for grabs. We'll probably have a big run-off."
The Marksmen's strongest relay last year was the 3200, as they won it in the PAC and placed second in the sectional.
Sweeney and Alex Fenn return in that event and will be joined by Spencer Sandage and Bryson May.
"By the end of the year that may be one of our best events," said Hollinden.
Sandage placed second in the PAC in the 3200 run last year and Fenn took third. But Hollinden said Sandage and sophomore Jordan Alvey will probably run it in the big meets this year.
Sandage and Fenn lead the 1600 runners. Sweeney and May are the top 800 runners.
The Marksmen did not score well in the throws in postseason meets last year but Cody Nash, Daniel Scott and Tyler Henning are each throwing the discus about 130 feet in practice this year, said Hollinden. "They're throwing great."
Nash and Henning are the top two in the shot put now, though Jay Ziegelgruber, a senior competing for the first time, could contend for one of those spots later, said Hollinden.
Alex Scheer is the top high jumper. The next spot is "up for grabs," as junior transfer Jamal Noland is not eligible for varsity competition this year, said Hollinden.
Scheer and McDaniel will long jump.
Heritage Hills won the PAC last year but "I think we'll be favored to win it this year," said Hollinden. "It'll be between us and Heritage Hills, but they graduated several stars.
"We could place in the top three in every event.
"In the sectional you're probably looking at (defending champion) Northeast Dubois as the team to beat. They've got 45 kids on their team and have so many good ones back.
"We can put up a good fight, though. Teams like us, Heritage Hills, Perry Central and Jasper will all be right there.
"We want to definitely be in the top three."