Logan Bontrager knows a little something about beating the odds.
So when the Center Grove High School senior predicts what might seem an unlikely state championship later this spring, it isn’t empty talk.
It’s the voice of experience.
“We feel pretty good,” said Bontrager, a central performer on Center Grove’s defending IHSAA state champion 1,600-meter relay team. “We expect to get back there and compete for the state championship.”
A four-year standout on the boys track and field team, Bontrager runs the first leg of the Trojans’ 1,600 relay — which entered last year’s IHSAA State Meet seeded seventh in that event.
By the end of the relay finals, the underdog Trojans were state champions. They won the race in a time of 3:18.66, nearly a full second ahead of runner-up Avon.
Talk about exceeding expectations.
“We just knew that we had a chance to win it going in,” Bontrager said. “We knew if we gave it our all, we could get it.”
Bontrager has the same expectation for the relay this spring, despite a dramatic lineup change from last year’s team.
Two of last year’s relay members, Zak Smith and Jackson Hohlt, were lost to graduation. Besides Bontrager, the only returner is senior Tyler Boyer.
But no matter.
Bontrager’s and Boyer’s new relay teammates, senior Trevor Hohlt (Jackson’s younger brother) and junior Matt Fleener, are fleet-footed veterans who have made a seamless transition filling the void.
“The two individuals who have come on, they’re relay hard workers, so it’s been pretty easy,” Bontrager said. “Everybody knows that they have a job to get done, and we just work hard at what we do.”
Besides track, Bontrager is a standout on the Trojans’ Class 6A state runner-up football team. An All-State Honorable Mention defensive back, he tallied 94 tackles his senior season for the Trojans, who lost a 16-13 overtime thriller against Carmel in the state championship game.
Bontrager, who also runs the 400-meter dash on the track team, credits being part of a winning football culture for a good measure of his track success. The head coach for both teams is Eric Moore, who has the distinction of having won team state championships at Center Grove in football and track and field.
“Coach Moore trains us really hard,” said Bontrager, who plans to study business at Indiana University. “We know we’re expected to train throughout the year and just work. We try to get ourselves in the best possible situation.”
For Bontrager, preparation for track is almost as satisfying as competing in meets.
“Honestly, I just really like the camaraderie and the competitive nature of the sport,” he said. “It’s almost like all on you. You have to grind out and do it, pretty much.”
Athlete of the Month Stats
Name: Logan Bontrager
Sport: Track and field
Events: 1,600 relay, 400 run
2016 highlights: Defending state, regional and sectional champion in the 1,600 relay
Other varsity sports: Football
Favorite movie: “Stars Wars” franchise
College plans: Major in business at Indiana University
Parents: John and Shanda Bontrager