(SOUTHSIDER VOICE PHOTOS BY STEVE PAGE)
By Steve Page
Rebuilding a high school program is one thing.
Starting from scratch, well…
Denny Staton isn’t going that far, but as Decatur Central’s new head track and field coach, he’s thinking big.
“Changing the mindset is what I’m trying to do,” said Staton, and he would know. He’s a 2002 Decatur Central grad, and has been associated with the school ever since.
He is a marketing teacher at the school’s EDGE Academy. Staton also coaches the football team’s defensive line.
Staton earned a degree in Business Administration and Management from Ivy Tech in 2017. He added a degree in communications from Southern New Hampshire University in 2020.
Now, as Decatur Central’s new head track and field coach, he’s ready to determine the program’s direction.
“We’re in the rebuilding stage,” he noted. “We want to build from the bottom, make everybody work.
“We have a nice little group.”
He’s right about that.
As a junior, Aliseonna Garnett placed 14th in last year’s IHSAA Girls’ State Finals shot put with a throw of 39-4.75.
On Saturday, she competed in the Hoosier State Relays Finals, which serve as the unofficial state championships for the indoor season.
Garnett took sixth in the shot put with a throw of 39 feet, 9 inches.
Javion Jones, then a sophomore, placed 17th in the 2022 IHSAA Boys’ State Finals shot put at 54-4.5.
As the coach noted, there’s more.
“Miranda Woodard, a sophomore, is a thrower and a jumper,” Staton said. “She was a regional qualifier last year.
“Damian Meriweather, a junior, is a sprinter. He was a member of the 4x4.”
There are other Hawks who look to be more than competitive.
“Katie Tran, a junior, is a thrower and jumper,” Staton continued. “Nevaeh Hern, a sophomore, is a jumper and a sprinter. N’Po Dodo is a sophomore. He should score all over the track. He’s a sprinter, he jumps – whatever we put him in. Dre Martin is a thrower.
“Jacey Wheeler is a senior. Jameela Hydre-Yusoff is a senior. They will provide leadership and help in the sprints.”
While those Hawks will be coaches of sorts on the track, Staton has help of his own.
“My assistant coaches are Torren ‘Juice’ Whitfield, Jarel Shaw, Cam Evans and Emily Wilson. She’s our jumps coach,” Staton said.
“Absolom Bryant is our throws coach, Rich Hoffman is our distance coach and Nancy Aguirre is a throws coach.”
Then there’s that talk of future Hawks and future visions.
“Our freshman class is promising,” Staton said. “Hopefully, we can build around them in the future.
“We want to participate with freshmen, let them compete in stuff, build for the future. It’s exciting for that class. They had decent numbers in middle school. That’s why we’re building with them.”
The building begins quickly.
The Hawks open their coed season at 5:30 p.m. April 6 when they host Mid-State Conference rivals Perry Meridian and Plainfield. The Quakers are the defending boys’ state champions.
Following a possible three-way on April 12, the Hawks are back home again April 14 to host the Joe Schott Twilight Invitational. The meet is named for longtime throwing coach Joe Schott.
“We have more home meets this year,” Staton said. “That’s a good thing.”
“We’re in the rebuilding stage. We want to build from the bottom, make everybody work.”
-- DC track coach Denny Staton
Senior thrower Aliseonna Garnett
A long jumper sails over the pit during preseason practice.
A runner breaks from a group, beginning her lap while others wait to start in a preseason practice.
Head coach Denny Staton (left) discusses practice goals with some of his competitors during a preseason session at Devere Fair Stadium.