Boys track | Season preview

Chesterton 3,200 relay eyes a run at a state title

2014-04-10T17:30:00Z 2014-04-10T22:08:13Z Chesterton 3,200 relay eyes a run at a state titleJim Peters james.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com

It takes two to tango and four to run a relay.

Chesterton returns three members of its 3,200-meter team that placed second in the 2013 state finals, and the regular season will be a training ground to find the best replacement for the graduated Nick Barango.

"It's a team and obviously, and we only have three," Kevin Kenney said. "We're waiting for someone to prove worthy. There's definitely talent on the team."

Kenney, fellow senior Tyler Vore and junior Billy Biehl were all part of the quartet that ran a 7:43.79 in Bloomington last June and led after two legs.

"People don't remember that," Trojans coach TR Harlan said. "They don't care about that."

Chesterton's time ranked seventh in the nation at that point – winner Carroll (Fort Wayne) was first – and ended the season 13th.

"We could've run faster (at nationals), but somebody wanted to play soccer," Kenney joked.

That "somebody" was Biehl, 'a freak of nature,' as Kenney describes, who excels even though soccer, not running, is his No. 1 sport.

"I've had runners from other schools, guys at the state meet, ask me, 'Aren't you a soccer player? You should run cross country,'" Biehl said. "In soccer season, I try to run as much as I can on my own."

The competitive mentality of playing a team sport serves Biehl well on the relay, where he relishes the thrill of the chase and the pressure of being the anchor man.

"Billy's just got a little more of that 'I'm just not going to let them pass me,'" Harlan said. "It's just a little something different inside. Kevin likes the idea of being the leadoff guy, putting us in position and letting the rest go."

Thought he barely missed qualifying for state in the open 800, Kenney is more of a 1,600, 3,200 runner, while Biehl and Vore are best suited for the 800.

"I think all three of us excel best in the relay environment," Vore said. "If you run a bad race, it's not just you, it's you and the team."

The trio will run the relay regularly before the tournament season with others being tested in the fourth slot. Archie Sullivan, a 400 state medalist, figures to be a prime candidate, with his younger brother Emmett among the other possibilities.

"The fourth guy's job is to just keep us in the race," Harlan said. "The other three are good enough. They and coach (Tim) Ray have put in the work."

While talk of state records and national rankings is heady stuff, the group is trying to stay grounded as the process evolves.

"We're all pretty humble and keep to ourselves," Vore said. "We've got to take it step by step, not get over our heads too soon. It's about how we do this year, not what we did last year."

"We can't get ahead of ourselves," Kenney added. "We need to stay motivated."

The group of close friends speaks in general terms of getting better, leaving talk of state titles to the coach.

"It's clearly what they have as the No. 1 goal," Harlan said. "You're at that level, why wouldn't it be?

"We've joked that coach Ray and I want one of those really big rings. They see what the boys swim team has done. Legacy-wise, they can't take that away. You'll always be a state champion. We've talked about records. Yeah, that would be cool, but they just want to win. You do that and the time will take care of itself."

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