Delta Boys Athletics Win Back-To-Back IHSAA Sectional Titles
MUNCIE, Ind. – Delta athletics has done it again.
After the women’s sectional victory on Tuesday, the Eagles men’s team won its second straight IHSAA sectional title at Muncie Central High School on Thursday. This week marks the first time since 2003 that Delta’s men’s and women’s teams have won in the same year.
Excluding the canceled 2020 season, the men’s team have won three of the last four sectional championships, and the women’s team finally broke through after three consecutive second places.
The program as a whole has steadily improved under the guidance of Shane and Mackenzie Dye Conley, husband and wife who began leading the boys’ and girls’ teams seven and six years ago, respectively. Conley said only 14 kids participated in his first year, and now the team has grown to 48 people.
“It’s cool. We’re both competitive, but we both have our hands on both programs. We share (coaching responsibilities),” Conley said. “She has our distance and I have our throwers, and our sprint coach coaches both. It’s really a program more than just a boys’ team and a girls’ team, and for that finally coming gratification for our program girls has been great because they put in the work. Yesterday we said to the boys in practice, “Hey, the girls are out and taking care of business. Now it’s up to us.”
The men’s team was certainly motivated, posting 145 points to second-best Yorktown by 19.5, six points clearer of last year’s winning streak. The Eagles have won seven events and have advanced athletes in all but three competitions despite using only three seniors.
Senior John Chimbanda was the main contributor to this senior group, placing third in the 110m hurdles before coming back to win by 0.68 seconds in arguably the most exciting event of the evening, the 300m hurdles, against Wapahani senior Drayden Gates, the 2021 300m hurdles section champion.
Conley said Chimbanda entered high school as a 5-foot-8, 120-pound kid and worked tirelessly to develop both his body and his competitive spirit. He beat 41 seconds in the 300m hurdles for the first time two weeks ago, and Chimbanda’s coaches and teammates were thrilled to see him run under 40 seconds when it mattered most.
“He’s probably been my favorite athlete over the last four years to track progress,” Conley said. “He walked in the fall of junior year and we were like, ‘Oh my God, who is this kid? …he just worked in the weight room, on the track, all to get better.”
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“Pure bliss. It was truly amazing to watch. I didn’t think he had it in him until the last 50 yards,” said Chimbanda’s teammate Quinn Backus. “It was wild.”
Chimbanda didn’t qualify for regionals in either hurdle event last year, so he entered this spring eager to train early and hard. He attended every preseason practice, eventually impressing the coaching staff enough to be offered the first team captain in Delta track and field history.
“I felt really honoured, and I think that set the tone to step up and be a leader for the team,” Chimbanda said. “It’s a race. It’s not just mechanics. At the end of the day, it’s a sport that you participate in, so I was happy to be able to (win the 300m hurdles)… I was just pushing.”
The Eagles’ top scorers, however, were Backus and fellow junior Abram Stitt.
Despite his long, curly hair, Backus looks fuzzy on the runway. After only winning the 200m in the sections last year, Backus this time won the 100m and 200m sprints, while anchoring the champion teams in the 4x100m and 4x400m relay.
Only the 4x100m of the four was particularly close. Backus said the biggest difference this year was improving his start from the blocks, rather than just developing his raw speed. Conley wasn’t surprised to see Backus’ success after watching him quickly transition from football to track season, with Backus deciding he wanted to be great after seeing better competition at Regionals in 2021.
Backus also credited the fun factor for giving him some extra juice.
“(Key is) a lot of the hype (of) Luke Wray with wearing our sunglasses during our 4x100s and 4x400s,” Backus said. “It just helped keep my spirits up throughout the race.”
Stitt, like Backus, contributed to both winning relay teams and also won the high jump and long jump for the second year in a row. Stitt was the only male track and field athlete in the area to qualify for state competition in two events – both jumps – last year, and he once again made it look effortless with his calm demeanor.
He said it’s because he expects to win, knowing what he’s capable of and holding himself to a high standard. This year, Stitt hasn’t broken his long jump personal best, which he set as a sophomore, but said he’s been hitting 22-foot marks more consistently.
Stitt doesn’t think he’s peaked and expects him to do so again in his two show jumping events. Conley said while the state’s elite high jumpers are still a strong group, several seniors are graduating from the 2021 state long jump field, so Stitt should have a shot at placing well. .
“He worked on his flexibility, he worked on his strength, and then obviously he’s naturally gifted. So he really bought into what we asked him to do in terms of recovery and taking care of his body now,” Conley said. “He just floats. We kind of joke that he has hollow bones because he just goes up in the air and it looks like he stays in the air. It’s fun to watch.”
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Several other non-Delta champions from last season took the win, including Gates (100m hurdles), Yorktown senior Luke Harber (3,200m, 4x800m relay) and junior Kolton Nanko (pole vault) and Nick Cook , sophomore from Wapahani (1,600 m).
Yorktown runner-up Mason Moulton had two of the most convincing victories of the competition, winning the discus with a throw of 154ft 8in, more than 22ft longer than runner-up, and the shot put from over 2 feet with a throw of 49 feet 8.5 inches.
But Delta has once again won the bet and should be the favorite to win again in 2023.
“It’s fun to win, so when we’ve had the chance to win, the kids get into it. We have great coaches (at Delta) who push athletes into multiple sports…from our sports to our administration to our facilities, there’s just support everywhere,” Conley said. “We’re losing John Chimbanda, but other than that we’ve got a lot of kids coming back. So kids like Quinn are going to inspire other kids in our program to improve as well.”
Here are the final scores for the teams and all regional qualifiers in the Delta section:
- Delta (145)
- Yorktown (125.5)
- Wapahani (105)
- Muncie Central (79)
- Central Monroe (60)
- Jay County (31)
- Muncie Burris (25)
- Cowan (22)
- Union City (19)
- Winchester (5.5)
- South Randolph (2)
- West Del (1)
100m — First place, Quinn Backus, Delta, 10.96; Second place, Kyle Pike, Cowan, 11.07; Third place, Quintin Williams, Yorktown, 11:15 a.m.
200m — First place, Quinn Backus, Delta, 22.34; Second place, Ashton Chambers, Muncie Central, 22.93; Third place, Quintin Williams, Yorktown, 23.02
400m — First place, Blayne Daniels, Union City, 50.65; Second place, Kyle Pike, Cowan, 51.00; Third place, Luke Wray, Delta, 51.08
800m — First place, Carter Miller, Monroe Central, 2:02.03; Second place, Tyler Dillon, Delta, 2:02.85; Third place, Sam Brumley, Yorktown, 2:06.67
1,600m — First place, Nick Cook, Wapahani, 4:33.15; Second place, Tyler Dillon, Delta, 4:37.07; Third place, Tucker Burris, Monroe Central, 4:41.40
3,200m – First place, Luke Harber, Yorktown, 9:58.70; Second place, Nick Cook, Wapahani, 10:25.36; Third place, Tucker Burris, Monroe Central, 10:30.78
110m hurdles — First place, Drayden Gates, Wapahani, 15.05; Second place, Leo Boyd, Muncie Central, 3:35 p.m.; Third place, John Chimbanda, Delta, 15.37
300m hurdles — First place, John Chimbanda, Delta, 39.92; Second place, Drayden Gates, Wapahani, 40.48; Third place, Kolton Nanko, Yorktown, 41.49
4x100m relay — First place, Delta, 43.90; Second place, Muncie Central, 44.11; Third place, Yorktown, 44.20
4x400m relay — First place, Delta, 3:27.04; Second place, Wapahani, 3:35.79; Third place, Yorktown, 3:36.48
4x800m relay — First place, Yorktown, 8:29.93; Second place, Wapahani, 8:38.48; Third place, Monroe Central, 8:41.64
Shot put — First place, Mason Moulton, 49-08.5; T-second place, Cole Munchel, Monroe Central, 47-08; T-second place, Dylan Manor, Delta, 47-08
Disk — First place, Mason Moulton, Yorktown, 154-08; Second place, Emmanuel Taylor, Muncie Central, 132-00; Third place, Joey Hazen, Yorktown, 127-07
big jump — First place, Abram Stitt, Delta, 6-03; Second place, Jon Shrock, Wapahani, 6-02; Third place, Alden Mahaffey, Wapahani, 6-01
long jump — First place, Abram Stitt, Delta, 22-04.5; Second place, Isaac Shreve, Wapahani, 20-11′ Third place, Demetrione Clair, Muncie Central, 20-01.5
Pole vault — First place, Kolton Nanko, Yorktown, 12-00; T-second place, Brayden Stanley, Delta, 11-06; T-second place, Isaac Baker, Yorktown, 11-06
Sections of other areas
Mt. Vernon Cup
New Castle (40) placed fifth, Daleville (12) ninth, Blue River (six) 11th and Shenandoah (5) 12th behind first place and host Mt. Vernon (180) in the sectional meet of Thursday.
The only regional qualifier in the area was New Castle’s Andrew Fewell (third, 800m).
Blackford (19) ranked ninth behind first-placed Oak Hill (111) in Marion’s sectional encounter on Thursday. The only regional qualifier for the Bruins is Evan Watt (second, 800m).