CEDAR LAKE | In most high school sports, unless they're a 6-foot-9 power forward, freshmen aren't paid much attention.
They practice, occupy the bottom of depth charts, and see very little varsity action.
But Hanover Central's Alec Nirtaut isn't just any ninth-grader. He's the leading scorer this season on coach Steve Foulds' boys track team with 180.5 points.
"He plays basketball and soccer so he's all-around," Foulds said. "People were saying he might play baseball this year instead of running track but he ran like 55 (seconds) in the 400 (dash) as our best eighth-grader.
"He's very good. He made the right decision."
Nirtaut is up for nearly every challenge in track. His personal bests this spring are 23.7 in the 200, 21 feet in the long jump and 52-flat in the 400.
He also leads off the Wildcats' 1,600 relay that features only one senior.
Foulds knows the youngster's potential but is more impressed by his consistency, meet after meet.
"And he's doing four events. At our school, we make them do everything," Foulds said.
That's fine with Nirtaut, who hopes track and field may one day help get him into college.
"With each event, I'm going my hardest, giving it my all and it's been that way through grade school, too," said Nirtaut, who credits sophomore teammate Matt Yzaguirre for providing competition at every level.
The Porter County Conference boys meet is today at Kouts and being a freshman, Nirtaut continues relishing the experience rather than thinking he's all that.
"I look up to a lot of the older kids and it's been fun for us as 'newbies' learning from them," Nirtaut said. "I've been surprised at how well I'm doing and the team's been helping me out a lot, too.
"There's a lot of good kids on the team."
His goal this season? You guessed it. Be consistent.
"I just go race by race, do my very best, and whatever happens, happens," Nirtaut said. "I'm not worried about state. One step at a time."