BOYS TRACK | Season preview

Chesterton's Troop priming for one final run to glory in track

2013-03-29T19:30:00Z 2014-04-10T18:37:07Z Chesterton's Troop priming for one final run to glory in trackJim Peters jim.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com
March 29, 2013 7:30 pm  • 

His brilliance on the football field earned Joe Troop a scholarship to the University of Indianapolis.

His brilliance on the track, Chesterton coach TR Harlan believes, could earn him a Division I scholarship.

In the end, the choice for Troop wasn't that difficult.

"A bunch of people kept telling me, do what you want, what you love, enjoy college," Troop said. "Four years of track has been brutal on my body, but it's something I've been successful at. Not to be cocky, as good as I am in track, I don't enjoy it as much as football."

Ironically, UIndy is a D-II track power, particularly strong in the 400 meters, Troop's specialty.

"We'll see," said Harlan, not shutting the door. "He's had some big-time schools calling about track. Let's just say we haven't opened a lot of D-II, D-III letters. He's unbelievably talented, a great leader, mature beyond his years."

Even if this is Troop's last running go-round, he wouldn't mind making a little history before his days as a Trojan are done.

"Track signifies the end of my high school career," he said. "There have been a lot of memories with it. I've gotten some good things out of it and some bad things out of it. It's definitely bittersweet, but I'm hoping to go out with a bang, to leave Chesterton with the gold."

No Chesterton male athlete has won a state track title since Brendan Smith in 1986.

"It's time to have one, to leave a legacy," Harlan said. "Last year, it was to get on the podium. He accomplished that. Now the goal is to win. It's all there for him to have a chance."

Troop finished third at state in the 400 last season and was part of the 1,600 relay that took seventh. That group remains well-stocked for a push up the podium, evidenced by their second-place finish at the Hoosier State Relays.

"We've definitely got the guys to do it," Troop said.

The end goals aside, it's a long time between the late-March cold of Chesterton and the warmth of early June in Bloomington. Troop spent the winter getting his football future in order, at the expense of his track training.

"Honestly, he hasn’t worked nearly as hard in the offseason as last year," Harlan said. "It's something we've talked about. I think he's got a good focus. He's not going to go out and run a 49 (seconds) at Highland. Every time he walks on the track, everyone can't expect that. He might run a 52. He might even lose, and he's got to be OK with that. He wants to be great all the time, but he understands the bigger picture, too."

While Troop realizes he may not be knocking out sub-50s just yet, the idea of not finishing first doesn't sit well. Ever.

"I don't need to run eye-popping times, but I don't care what he says, I'll never lose a race intentionally," he said. "Honestly, after football, I was pretty depressed. I took some weeks off. It was hard to get back in the groove of being track fit. I need to understand how to run the 400 properly. If I need to break it down into 200 and 200, run negative splits, that's what I'll do. I need to be good in June."

Maybe the biggest challenge will be the ability to challenge himself. Troop and Portage's Alvin Best had a memorable series of races last season, but Best graduated and the competition could be lacking. Harlan will also run Troop in the 100 and 200 regularly to hone his starts.

"That's the thing I think we need to improve on the most," Harlan said. "He's not really good the first 30, 40 meters of a race, so we're hoping that will help. It's something I've always done coaching girls. You really wear them out early to build up endurance so at the back end, it'll be a lot easier. It all comes down to running great on the right day."

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