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Peru Tribune outlines its 2018 wish list

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

With winter bringing around unexpected down time for athletes around the county, it gives the Peru Tribune a chance to look back at the wish list created at the beginning of 2017.

It’s also a chance to create a wish list for 2018 and see how much the athletes of Miami County can accomplish this calendar year.

2017 Goals in Review

At the start of last year, there were six items laid out among the county schools, of which it’s reasonable to say three came to fruition, two were left on the back burner and one is up for debate.

Six athletes, Dalton Outlaw, Jordan Rader, Jonah Lester, Carlee Lefebvre, Faith White and Madison Winegardner all made trips to state finals, beating the goal of five athletes.

Eight TRC titles were won last season by Maconaquah (boys’ basketball, girls’ swimming, boys’ swimming and girls’ cross country), Peru (wrestling and baseball) and North Miami (boys’ soccer, girls’ soccer), beating the goal of seven conference crowns.

There were some fantastic inter-county games last year, most prominently the Peru-Maconaquah football game but also tremendous basketball games between the two schools as well as contests in baseball, softball, football, golf and tennis.

Sadly, with only two sectional titles between the county (Peru wrestling and Maconaquah girls’ cross country), there were no regional team champions at hand.

There’s also a large gap for the girls at Peru to fill in as softball was the closest to making a breakthrough in team sports, finishing with a 5-4 TRC record but six games below .500 for the season. While there were some promising signs in places like cross country, a lack of competition inside the teams themselves is not getting the Tigers where they need to be.

The last, and one of which there could be some debate, is whether or not the success of last year for North Miami, particularly its girls’ teams, was enough to satisfy those in red and black.

TRC championships in boys’ and girls’ soccer were a plus but a lack of postseason success among several sports was disappointing.

It will be interesting to see whether or not the Warriors can make leaps in several sports with a core of athletes both male and female that will be driving their teams forward throughout all of 2018.

Among the state, we wanted to see two basketball teams reach the NCAA Final Four (Big miss), whether or not Purdue football could start turning things around (A win over IU to make a bowl game and a win in the Foster Farms Bowl is a definite hit), the Indianapolis Colts to make the playoffs (Woof) and the Indiana Pacers to find an identity (A fast-paced, unselfish, fun to watch team? Seems like a win there), so we’ll call that a 50-50 split.

Goals for 2018

So with all of the above being said, what would the Peru Tribune like to see this season?

At least seven state qualifiers

As the county got six individuals into the state finals, why not see more this year?

There are some very strong contenders in the winter sports to make trips to Indianapolis, especially in wrestling, while Maconaquah’s diving program would certainly like to see Outlaw and more go on to the state finals.

White was a state placer last year and will certainly want to return to Bloomington, possibly with others in tow, while looking into the fall, it certainly is not out of the question that Cole Borden could make a strong run in tennis like his freshman year but go even what step better.

One of the ‘big three’ sports to claim a sectional title

In each of the three sports seasons, there are primary sports, including football/volleyball (Fall), basketball (Winter) and baseball/softball (Spring).

While there have been baseball and softball sectionals won with the current athletes from Peru and North Miami respectively on the roster, no one was able to pick up a title last year, a stat that would be disappointing if it ran for another season.

At least three sectional champions

While the above would be a nice starting point, it would also be a nice thing to see the county schools have more postseason success as a whole.

Only Peru’s wrestling team and Maconaquah’s girls’ cross country program earned team titles in the postseason and, for the most part, there were not a lot of close calls otherwise.

By the same token, there are several strong teams that are out there among the county schools and it would be a great boost for everyone to see them succeed on a bigger stage.

Saint-Louis, Next Maconaquah coach to jump in strong

By the time 2017 finished, all three Miami County schools saw their head football coaching positions change.

One was made before the season (Joe Grant) and the other two have come since the end of the season with Romison Saint-Louis stepping into the job at Peru and Maconaquah soon to be searching for their next head coach.

It would be great to see both teams excel under new leadership next year, making Miami County a hard place to win football games for visiting teams.

North Miami volleyball to beat Rochester

This one doesn’t need a lot of explaining. An 0-3 mark against the Zebras cost the Warriors three different titles (Tom-Hawk, TRC and Sectional) throughout 2017.

It would seem that all ways point to beating Rochester to get where North Miami wants to go and with the core of the team being seniors in 2018, now is the time to do it.

Across the State

Outside the walls of Miami County, here are a few things we’d like to see happen as well.

The Indianapolis Colts to get it together

Once it was determined that quarterback Andrew Luck was going to miss the 2017 season, it was apparent the team was going to have a rough outing, yet watching the Colts slog through game after game was a painful experience on everyone involved.

The organization decided to part with head coach Chuck Pagano hours after the season finale and now it is in the hands of general manager Chris Ballard to pick up the pieces of this franchise and put it back together. A new coach, a healthy Luck, a strong draft and a lot of money sitting around should help start the rebuilding but it may be awhile before the Colts are a major player in the NFL again.

The Old Oaken Bucket to be more than a bowl playoff

With Purdue turning its fortunes around last season and Indiana finding new ways to be on the cusp of success without actually getting over the edge, the Old Oaken Bucket game became a de facto playoff for a bowl bid.

While it certainly made for a high-stakes rivalry game, it would be nice to see the game as less a means to a postseason berth and more of a game to help determine who gets the better bowl game.

At least two Indiana basketball teams (Division I) to win their conference titles

There are some good things happening out there in college basketball land this season with several of the big name schools out there either leading or near the top of their respective conferences.

The big question is whether or not that will hold up throughout the year, like the IUPUI men or Butler women, along with big hitters like Purdue and Notre Dame.