By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Bedford North Lawrence is ready to take a big leap.
Whether it’s Lane Hawkins soaring over the high-jump bar, or Taylor Porter flying over a hurdle, or the Stars competing with the powers in the Hoosier Hills Conference and contending for a sectional championship, BNL is poised to take huge steps at full stride in 2019.
BNL finished in the middle of the pack in the HHC last season, sliding up one spot in the league standings from the previous year, and finished second in the sectional behind Jennings County. Now, with a herd of 57 athletes, the Stars have the numbers to make another move.
“Track is a lot like football,” BNL coach Brett Deckard said. “The better the numbers, the better off you are. We won’t have to double and triple kids up in events as much, we’ll be stronger for the sectional. That’s our goal.”
The spotlight will shine on two great leaders. Hawkins set the school record in the high jump, clearing 6-6 in the sectional, and qualified for the state finals. He will use that experience as motivation.
“State last year was kind of the year to feel it out, get the atmosphere down for what it’s like to jump at that facility with the big crowds,” said Hawkins, who has signed with Purdue-Fort Wayne. “Now my goal is the top five.”
Hawkins improved his best mark by six inches last year, and a similar improvement burst would push him to the 7-0 barrier. His college coaches also want him to compete in the 100-meter dash to improve his runway speed for takeoff.
“It’s all mental, especially with where I am now and the height I’m clearing,” he said. “It’s mental as far as timing and my form, and believing whether or not I can get over the bar. That’s 99 percent of the game. It’s not even athletic any more.
“I can jump a lot higher than I could last year, and it was that way the year before. That’s mostly attributed to basketball and the workouts we did. It helped my vertical and running leap.”
Porter won the sectional in the 110-meter high hurdles in 15.58 seconds. He hopes to qualify for the state finals.
“I’m not trying to beat any specific person,” Porter said. “I have to come out and beat my own times from last year. It’s a race against yourself, to better yourself and move on.”
The Stars will be strong in the distance events with Ethan Vaughn, Cooper Holmes and Chance Pemberton leading the charge, and they will have talent in the field events with Drew Shoufler (long jump plus the 200) and Cale Bunch (discus). BNL will have holes to fill in the relays, but Deckard expects those units to be solid.
“We lost a bunch of good seniors from last year, but we have had some kids that have really stepped it up,” Deckard said. “The kids have worked hard.”
The Stars will start the regular season on April 2 at Bloomington North.