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Small SCHS state team has lots of promise - Eden a favorite in 3,200-meter

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By Todd Martin

The SCHS boys' track team will compete in just four events at the class 3A state meet today and Saturday at the University of Louisville, but they are loaded with potential.

The team has entries in two running events -- the 3,200-meter and the 4x800 relay -- and two field events -- the shot put and discus -- but head coach Jerry Lucas said he likes his team's chances in their events.

"In all four events that we're entered in we have a shot to do well, and that's exciting," he said. "I think we're going to be right in the thick of it with all four."

The Rockets' best chance lies in the hands of sophomore Stacey Eden. After winning the 3,200 at the regional and going undefeated in the event this year, Eden is the No. 2-ranked runner based on the regional times at the meet -- 11 seconds behind Jackson Carnes of St. Xavier. He also finished eighth last year as a freshman, so there shouldn't be any surprises for him. Eden has beaten most of the field at one time or another this year, but he hasn't faced Carnes or Greenwood's Ryan Eaton yet this year.

"I think I have a shot to win, but I thought I had a good chance last year and I ran a bad race," he said. "But, if I run like I have all year this year, I think I have as good a chance as anyone."

Lucas said he figures there are four or five runners that have a shot to win the event, and he puts his sophomore star right in the mix with the rest.

"He has a great shot, and I think he learned a lot last year as a freshman," the coach said. "He's such a smart runner. He knows what he has to do and when to make his move. We've seen him make his move with 300, 500 and 700 meters left in the race. Every two-mile takes its own shape and form, and he knows how to read the race."

Eden also said he's looking for some redemption from last year.

"There's two ways you can look at last year's race," he said. "You can either beat yourself up or use it as motivation, and that's what I've tried to do. It's hard to think about it all year, but every now and then I remember and just try to work harder so that doesn't happen again."

Eden will also team with J.J. Depasco, Max Eden and Jonathan Pernell to run in the 4x800 relay.

Out of 16 teams the Rockets are ranked No. 15 after running an 8:36.8 in the regional race. However, Lucas said this team has a great chance to move up.

"The one thing about this group is that everyone has to run a personal best," he said. "Now, that seems like a lot, but all four have had good times this season, we just have to put them all together. Stacey will run the fourth stick, and if we can keep him close he has that drive to catch and pass people."

The Rockets' time is about 30 seconds slower than top-ranked St. Xavier, so winning will be difficult, but the race is a long one.

"The thing is, dropping 10 or 15 seconds off a 3,200-meter race isn't as hard as it seems," Lucas said. "It's going to be tough because the competition is so good, but if we can shave a few seconds from each guy, we'll be right there looking to score points."

Rounding out the Rockets' state team will be Matt Spencer in the shot put and discus. Spencer is ranked No. 13 in both events, but after finishing second in both at the regional the junior and his coach both think he can move into the top eight to medal.

The key for Spencer is getting his positioning and form just right.

"He's a big boy, so if he's off just a little it can mess up his throw and get him leaning the wrong way," Lucas said. "We've set a goal for him as state champion as a senior and this is just another step. Hopefully he can get his personal best in both and use that as motivation and a stepping stone for next year."

Spencer said technique will be the key.

"I've had some good throws in practice this week, I just have to get my technique down and with my strength I think the top eight is possible. I definitely want to do my best, but I think next year I can be more confident because I know what I'll be going against."

Lucas also added that no matter what happens his team needs to realize how far they have made it.

"People that just follow basketball, football and baseball don't realize it, but these kids have made the sweet 16," he said. "There are only 16 entries in each event, so that's an incredible year in any other sport."

State track meet

The KHSAA Class 3A State Track Meet will be Friday and Saturday at Owsley Frazier Cardinal Park on the campus of the University of Louisville. SCHS will compete in four events. The events and times are:

Friday

4x800 - 6:15 p.m.

Saturday

Shot put - 1 p.m.

Discus - 2:30 p.m

3,200 - 8:05 p.m.