Ben Stephen named Gatorade Indiana Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year

 

Ben Stephen joined the ranks of Indiana's track and field elite his sophomore year.

On Friday, the Union County High School graduate was recognized as the absolute best.

The 2007 IHSAA shot put state champion and discus runner-up was named Gatorade Indiana Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

It's a really great honor for him, Union County boys track and field coach Chuck Snyder said. I'm very proud of him.

It's the tip of the iceberg and I hope the big awards continue (to come).

Stephen, who will attend Indiana University on a track and field scholarship, is competing this weekend at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. The award took him by surprise.

That's awesome, he said. I didn't really know about it. Getting that Gatorade thing is pretty nice.

Stephen is now eligible for the Gatorade National Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year award. The honor will be given out later this month.

Stephen threw 64 feet, 11 inches to win the shot put during the state meet on June 1. His toss in the discus was 175-5.

Stephen's top shot put throw was 65-8 during a dual against Connersville. The toss was the 15th best nationally this season.

He's one of the top boys in the nation, Snyder said. I don't think Union County really realized what they had as a student athlete.

Last summer, Stephen won the shot put of the young men division during the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Championships and also won the Nike Outdoor Nationals.

He's competing against the top in the nation and he beats them, Snyder said. He does a really good job of representing Union County.

Stephen had an off day during the discus competition on Friday. He fouled twice and the one throw he got in, 153-0, was good enough for 21st place.

Stephen looks to repeat as shot put champion beginning at 5:15 p.m. today. He threw 65-0 to win the event last season, but winning again will be a tall order.

Jimmie Pacifico of Vandalia-Butler (Ohio) High School, the top shot put thrower in the nation, will be among the competitors. Pacifico's top throw is 71-6¼.

It's going to make me have to push, Stephen said. I like competition. It should be fun.

Snyder thinks the elevated competition level will bring the best out of Stephen.

He hasn't been pushed all year and he needs that, Snyder said. His adrenaline picks up and he knows he really has to concentrate.

Prep sports coordinator Myyon Barnes: (765) 973-4465 or mbarnes@pal-item.com.