HAMMOND | West Side junior Di'Jon Smith's determination has taken him down many paths.
He started wrestling as a freshman to stay in shape for track, and this winter a funny thing happened. He went 19-8 and qualified for semistate at 106 pounds.
Back in a more natural, albeit sultry, environment, the success continued for Smith on Wednesday night.
He repeated as champion of the 2-mile run, was second in the mile and ran on the third-place distance medley relay team at the Bishop Noll Invitational. For his big night he earned the coaches' vote as track MVP.
"My goal this year is a medal at the state meet, and I'm not stopping," Smith said. "I feel like everything's coming along. I know that if I keep positive and keep working, my goals are going to come."
Smith was 21 seconds ahead of teammate Marcus Carter in the 2-mile run. He was 10th at a qualifier for the Hoosier State Relays earlier this month, though he was disappointed in that performance.
Team scores were not kept, but West Side showed its depth throughout the night.
"We are blessed that we have a lot of numbers this year," West Side coach Gene Johnson said. "Our team's loaded with a lot of young fellows, so we have a lot of work to do."
Senior Devonte Malone won the 60-meter hurdles, and the Cougars took the 20-lap relay title and fourth place in the six-lap relay.
Griffith shot putter Maciek Szczepkowski was the field MVP with a winning heave of 52 feet, 5 inches in his lone event.
E.C. Central junior Kenneth Lloyd won the long jump and was second in the high jump based on tiebreakers. With local weather skipping from winter to summer, Lloyd admitted frustration with being back inside.
He was getting used to being outdoors with a springboard in the long jump. He fouled numerous times during the two-day event but came 1/4 of an inch short of 20 feet to edge Lew Wallace's Demonyae Collier.
"It's an extreme confidence booster to pull this off early in the season like this," Lloyd said. "I had a lot of trouble hitting my mark, but I got it on my last try."
Bowman's Cornelius Strickland won the 60 dash, and Noll's Ronnye Beamon won the high jump.
T.F. South senior Dylan Angel had a productive night, beating Smith by four seconds for the mile title and anchoring a win in the evening's finale, the 10-lap medley relay.
The cross country runner and hockey player knows it's never too early to talk about the outdoor postseason.
"My times are steadily going down, and I'm feeling really good,"Angel said. "I plan to keep this going through the sectional."