By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — There may be more questions surrounding boys track than any other spring sport heading into the new season.
Narrowing it down was difficult, but here are five big storylines to watch for as boys track season is set to begin this weekend.
1. Who will win the Miami County meet?
Last season, Miami East surprised the county, holding off Troy 139-128 to end the Trojans’ run of Miami County Championships victories. Troy will be looking to reclaim its title, but it has to figure some things out before then … and April 17 will be here faster than anyone expects. Miami East returns a lot of talent, and Milton-Union — which finished third last year — will be strong again, as well. Not to mention all of the other challengers, as Miami County is packed with talent.
Will Miami East repeat? Will Troy take it back? Will someone else step in? Everyone will find out when Tippecanoe hosts the event in less than a month.
2. Can Troy win a third straight division title?
The Trojans won the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North title last season, its second straight division crown and fifth in the last six years. But Troy has a lot of questions itself heading into this season — vacancies in spots that have been strengths for a long time and a lineup that likely won’t be solidified until much later in the season.
The competition in the division has only gotten tougher, too. Troy needed every point it could get to hold Butler off last season. Tippecanoe, in its second year in the league, is looking to improve its standing after finishing third last year. Can Troy answer its own questions in time for the GWOC meet?
3. Can Miami East take the next step?
Miami East was the runner-up at both the Cross County Conference meet and the Division III district meet last season, but the Vikings fell to ninth as a team at the regional, with conference champion Twin Valley South in second and league rival Covington in third. The Vikings return a mountain of competitors from that team, though, and they’ll be looking to get back to that high level.
The Vikings will have to do so, though, in a new division. Miami East’s boys were bumped up to Division II this season, meaning they’ll be competing against bigger and tougher schools than it did in last year’s postseason. Of course, before the Vikings worry about that, they’ll be taking aim at the CCC meet first. Can they use their returning talent to take control of the league?
4. Can Covington’s Murphy get back to form?
Covington senior pole vaulter Jett Murphy, a two-time state qualifier and the school’s record holder in the event, missed the entire basketball season in the winter with an injury. That he will recover isn’t really in question — he’s dealt with injury earlier in his track career, only to come back stronger than ever. The question is whether or not he’ll be able to do so in time by the end of this season.
The Buccaneers certainly could use his help by season’s end if they want to improve on their third-place finish at the CCC meet last season. And aside from that, Murphy will be looking to improve on his own third-place finish at the state meet last season.
5. How much will the weather play a factor?
Well, let’s just say that even though it is now technically spring, there is fresh snow on the ground as this is being written. As of Wednesday, there is a 70 percent chance of snow and rain on Saturday for the season-opening Up and Running Invitational at Troy Memorial Stadium. The Trojans moved their Senior Night celebration to Saturday since, the past two seasons, the Herb Hartman Invitational has dealt with weather-related problems — but now there’s potential problems on the horizon already.
Sure, track meets are less vulnerable to the conditions than spring’s other sports, usually taking lightning to shut down, but snow and frigid conditions will cause the same problems. So how long will winter try to fight the spring this year?
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.