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Indiana women’s basketball leaning on experience and perspective in navigating NCAA Tournament

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Indiana women’s basketball leaning on experience and perspective in navigating NCAA Tournament


Upon first glance, Indiana women’s basketball received a tough NCAA Tournament draw.

The Hoosiers (24-5) earned their No. 4 seed, giving them home-court advantage in the first two rounds. But they’re up against a No. 13 seed in Fairfield (31-1) that hasn’t lost since mid-November and may feel it deserved a higher seed.

If IU defeats the Stags, it may face No. 5 seed Oklahoma (22-9) — the Big 12 regular season outright champions, which swept No. 1 seed Texas and played a more challenging non-conference schedule than the Hoosiers.

Should Indiana get through to the Sweet 16, it would set up — in all likelihood — a matchup with No. 1 overall seed South Carolina (33-0).

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One of the bigger storylines of IU’s year was letdown performances in several big games. That wasn’t the case in every big game on the schedule, but it happened enough to be one of the themes from this regular season. And IU head coach Teri Moren never shied away from that. But the Hoosiers showed resilience coming out of those rough outings, and that veteran mentality gives her confidence that they can navigate a seemingly difficult bracket.

“This is a team that’s competitive, it’s a team that’s connected, it’s a team that’s mature, experienced,” Moren said during a Zoom media availability Sunday night. “Anytime you get into this tournament, it’s going to be hard. There’s going to be challenges, no matter who you play, whether first round, second round, and so forth. And so I think we’re prepared.”

Indiana enters this March Madness in a different fashion than its last several NCAA Tournament teams did.

The 2021 season and tournament were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, so IU’s No. 4 seed didn’t result in hosting the first two rounds like it normally would’ve. But it was still the program’s highest-ever seed at the time, and it reached its first-ever Elite Eight.

Indiana wanted to back up that run in 2022 and host for the first time in program history. The team’s No. 3 seed saw the latter vision come to fruition. IU had higher ambitions than its Sweet 16 ending, but it won a memorable second-round game in Bloomington and still represented itself well as a program.

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Last season, in 2023, the Hoosiers earned their first-ever No. 1 seed, and carried legitimate Final Four and national championship aspirations into the postseason. Miami (Fla.) promptly ended that magical ride in the second round.

This is Moren’s sixth NCAA Tournament team at Indiana, and her fifth straight year in the bracket. And it’s the first of those six groups whose postseason experience isn’t novel.

There’s no “first-ever” for these Hoosiers. They’ve been here before. They’ve felt the pressure of high expectations. They’ve witnessed March Madness environments at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. They’ve been a No. 4 seed, and made a deep run from that position. And they’ve felt the painful sting of being on the wrong end of an upset.

Those experiences have given these players more perspective than they’ve ever had going into an NCAA Tournament. Indiana knows what it takes to go far, and knows how quickly those dreams can come crashing down.

And between those memories from previous years and going through some of this season’s lower points, Moren has tried to make sure her team learns from it all.

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“It’s one thing to come up short, to fail, and some of those (letdown games this season) have been super disappointing,” Moren said. But there’s always a lesson inside of all those. You learn lessons throughout.”

Hoosiers recharging, Holmes feeling better

The Hoosiers got a needed boost from the last nine days after their loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament.

During IU’s regular-season finale against Maryland, Mackenzie Holmes re-injured her left knee that’s given her problems the last three seasons. She sat on the bench for most of the loss to the Wolverines in Minneapolis, and Moren didn’t want to use the fifth-year if she could avoid it. But Holmes still played during the fourth quarter out of desperation to save the game.

But the time off allowed her to rest her knee, and she said Sunday that she’s feeling a lot better.

“I think this past week I’ve been able to get some much needed rest for my knee and I’ve been able to get back out on the floor, I’ve been practicing,” Holmes said. “So each day I think I’m feeling more and more confident on it, feeling better on it, so this week has been great for that, the aspect of the recovery of my knee.”

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The All-American added she’s doing “pretty much everything” in practices, and is feeling much better entering this year’s NCAA Tournament than she did last year. Holmes sat out of Indiana’s first-round win over Tennessee Tech last season after injuring her knee during the Big Ten Tournament, and she said Sunday that she didn’t practice much after that point.

Moren and her staff were conscious of how much time the players spent on the court later in the season and ramped it down a bit to keep everyone healthy and energized. She acknowledged the difficulty of balancing that against necessary practice time to improve and maintain a competitive edge throughout the team, but doesn’t think it’s impossible to achieve both goals.

Holmes wasn’t the only one who benefitted from rest over the last week. Lilly Meister also got hurt against Maryland, though she played through it in a larger capacity than Holmes did against Michigan. Sydney Parrish played in only five games — four in her usual role and workload — after returning from a seven-game absence with a foot injury. IU had other players dealing with nagging injuries as well. Moren said the entire team was able to recharge last week.

“This was a great week for us to rest a lot, although we did practice. But we really shortened it. But it’s been a good week,” Moren said. “Yesterday was the first day we had everybody on the floor, so it was quite nice to see. But now, it’s go time for us. So we’re going to take tomorrow off, get acclimated with Fairfield, and when the guys get back here on Tuesday, we’ll be ready to go.”

For complete coverage of IU women’s basketball, GO HERE. 

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U.S. News & World Report names Indiana’s top high schools. Which ones made the list?

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U.S. News & World Report names Indiana’s top high schools. Which ones made the list?


U.S. News & World Report has released its ranking of the country’s top high schools, and nearly 400 Indiana schools made the rankings.

To determine its top schools, U.S. News & World Report pulled information from statewide standardized testing results, graduation rates, College Board and International Baccalaureate exam data and the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data.

In its review of about 25,000 public schools, 395 Indiana schools made the rankings. The top-ranked schools were found to have a high rate of students who scored above the average in math, science and reading assessments, passed college-level exams and graduated in four years.

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Best Indiana high schools

Here are the Top 10 Indiana high schools, according to U.S. News & World Report:

  1. Signature School (Evansville)
  2. The Indiana Academy (Muncie)
  3. West Lafayette Jr./Sr. High School
  4. Zionsville Community High School
  5. Herron High School (Indianapolis)
  6. Carmel High School
  7. Speedway Senior High School
  8. Westfield High School
  9. Munster High School
  10. Fishers High School

Best Indianapolis area high schools

The site also broke down the best schools in some of the state’s largest metropolitan areas. Here are the Top 10 high schools in the Indianapolis metro area, according to U.S. News & World Report:

  1. Zionsville Community High School
  2. Herron High School
  3. Carmel High School
  4. Speedway Senior High School
  5. Westfield High School
  6. Fishers High School
  7. Hamilton Southeastern High School
  8. Avon High School
  9. Brownsburg High School
  10. Noblesville High School

Contact IndyStar newsroom development director Holly Hays at holly.hays@indystar.com. Follow her on X/Twitter: @hollyvhays





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Here’s who is running against Spartz and Goodrich in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District

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Here’s who is running against Spartz and Goodrich in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District


It might not seem like it, but Hoosier voters across Indiana’s 5th Congressional District have nine candidates to choose from in the Republican primary election just weeks away. 

Much of the Republican race for the 5th District has centered on incumbent U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz, who turned the primary upside down in February when she reversed her 2023 decision to not seek reelection. Spartz was first elected in 2020 to represent the 5th Congressional District, which stretches from Hamilton County north to Grant County.

Since February, internal polling from both campaigns shows the race appears to be a battle between Spartz and Noblesville state Rep. Chuck Goodrich, who has led the entire field in fundraising with million-dollar personal donations to his campaign. The two have gone head-to-head in attack ads this election cycle with Goodrich’s campaign attacking Spartz’s previous support for aide to Ukraine while Spartz has claimed Goodrich “puts China first.” 

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But while Spartz and Goodrich take swipes at each other, there are seven other candidates also fighting for Republican votes. The winner of the primary will face either Ryan Pfenninger or Deborah Pickett who are competing in the Democratic primary next month.

Here is what you need to know about the Republicans running in the 5th Congressional District primary on May 7. (IndyStar has listed the candidates alphabetically based on their last name.)

Raju Chinthala

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Home: Carmel

Occupation: speech pathologist, founder and president of the Indiana India Business Council

Campaign Website: rajuforcongress.com

Money raised/spent: Per federal campaign finance reports, Chinthala has raised $274,000 and spent just under $45,000.

Notable: Chinthala, who was born in India, was endorsed earlier this year by former Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, who led the city for nearly three decades.

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Max Engling

Home: Cicero, but currently lives in Fishers.

Occupation: Full-time candidate

Campaign Website: maxforindiana.com

Money raised/spent: Per federal campaign finance reports, Engling has raised just over $200,000 this election cycle and spent about $125,000.

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Notable: Engling previously worked in Washington D.C. in the role of director of member services for former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted from the chamber’s leadership role in October 2023.

Chuck Goodrich

Home: Noblesville

Occupation: State Representative, CEO of Gaylor Electric

Campaign Website: gowithchuckgoodrich.com

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Money raised/spent: Per federal campaign finance reports, Goodrich has raised $3.4 million and spent $3 million this election cycle. Goodrich has donated $2.6 million to his campaign.

Notable: Goodrich, who is the CEO of Gaylor Electric, started as an intern at the company in the early 1990s. Goodrich’s leadership role with the company and at the Statehouse has been a conduit for the state representative to carry bills tied to apprenticeships and work-based learning, part of a movement in state government to prepare students for career paths beyond higher education degrees. While those bills have been celebrated, there remain questions from some groups, such as the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute, about additional funding and resources needed for such programs to actually be successful.

Mark Hurt 

Home: Kokomo

Occupation: Lawyer

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Campaign Website: markhurt.org

Money raised/spent: Per federal campaign finance reports, Hurt has raised about $147,000 and spent just under $120,000 this election cycle.

Notable: According to his campaign website, Hurt has worked on health care policy for politicians such as former Iowa Congressman Fred Grandy, former Michigan Gov. John Engler and former U.S. Senator Dan Coats, an Indiana senator who served as the director of National Intelligence from 2017 to 2019 in the Trump administration.

Patrick Malayter

Home: McCordsville

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Occupation: Former accountant and consultant to accounting firms

Campaign Website: patrickmforcongress.com

Money raised/spent: Per federal campaign finance reports, Malayter has raised $6,700 and spent no money yet this election cycle.

Notable: Maylayter’s key issue on the campaign trail has been establishing term limits for members of Congress. According to his campaign website, Malayter believes there should be eight-year limits on how long federally elected officials can serve in Washington D.C.

Matthew Peiffer

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Home: Muncie

Occupation: President of A Voice for Kids, a foster children advocacy nonprofit

Campaign Website: Peiffer does not have a campaign website, but posts about his involvement in the community on Facebook at the page Muncies Smile Man.

Money raised/spent: Per federal campaign finance reports, Peiffer has not raised or spent any money this election cycle.

Notable: Peiffer is a former foster child and has told media outlets he does not expect to win the primary election. At a League of Women Voters forum in Anderson in early April, Peiffer said he threw his hat into the race to make people more aware of issues he believes actually affect everyday Hoosiers, including mental health care for children in foster care systems and insurance for living donors.

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LD Powell

Home: Carmel

Occupation: Businessman

Campaign Website: ldpowellforcongress.com

Money raised/spent: Per federal campaign finance reports, Powell has raised just under $39,000 and spent about $35,000 this election cycle. Powell donated $35,000 to his campaign.

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Notable: Powell is the only veteran in the Republican primary. He served in the U.S. Navy and is also a certified flight instructor.

Larry L. Savage Jr.

Home: Anderson

Occupation: Property management

Campaign Website: Savage does not have a campaign website but is posting about the election on the Facebook page Larry Savage for U.S. Congress Indiana District5.

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Money raised/spent: There are no federal campaign finance reports for Savage’s campaign.

Notable: Savage describes himself as a “grassroots guy” and calls himself the “MAGA candidate” on his campaign Facebook page. Savage said he is pro-marijuana legalization and knows people that need access to marijuana to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Victoria Spartz

Home: Carmel

Occupation: U.S. Representative for Indiana’s 5th Congressional District

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Campaign Website: spartzforcongress.com

Money raised/spent: Per federal campaign finance reports, Spartz has raised $358,000 and spent $133,000 since rejoining the 5th District primary in February.

Notable: Spartz grew up in Ukraine and immigrated to the U.S. in 2000 after meeting her husband. Spartz has drawn headlines about her ties to the country since February 2022 when Russia further invaded Ukraine, from an emotional press conference in March 2022 condemning violence from Russia to criticism of Ukrainian leaders. Spartz voted no on the House’s recent approval of aide to Ukraine that passed the chamber on April 20.

Contact IndyStar’s state government and politics reporter Brittany Carloni at brittany.carloni@indystar.com or 317-779-4468. Follow her on Twitter/X @CarloniBrittany.





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23 statewide awards handed out at Tuesday’s Indiana High School Sports Awards show

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23 statewide awards handed out at Tuesday’s Indiana High School Sports Awards show


East Central High School’s Josh Ringer was named Boys Athlete of the Year and Hamilton Southeastern High School’s Lauren Harden was named Girls Athlete of the Year on Tuesday night at the Indiana High School Sports Awards, presented by the Indiana Pacers.

Hamilton Southeastern volleyball was the Girls Team of the Year Award while Fishers basketball won the Boys Team of the Year award at the event, which honored athletes, teams and coaches from the entire state. Indiana Fever star Aliyah Boston was the speaker at the event, which was produced with the support of the Indianapolis Colts, The Kiwanis Club of Indiana, USA Today Sports And Golfweek.

In all, 23 awards were handed out:

Coach of the Year: Dave Benter, Brownstown Central High School

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Benter, in his 26th year at his alma mater, led top-ranked Brownstown Central to the Class 2A boys basketball state title, the school’s first. Benter’s son, Jack, was the Braves’ star player and helped Brownstown Central to a 28-4 record, including finishing the season on a 19-game win streak culminating with a 55-36 win over No. 2 Wapahani in the state final.

Courage Award: Breece Bass, Franklin Central High School

Breece has persevered through the tragic deaths of her brother Broderick and father Stephen, remaining focused on her personal aspirations and drawn inspiration from the sky-high standard she holds herself to. A three-sport athlete, she led Franklin Central soccer to its first sectional championship since 2018, qualified for state in wrestling and has her sights set on returning to the state track meet this spring. A Murray State soccer commit, Breece will be the first in her family to attend college.

Marion County High School Female Athlete Award presented by the Kiwanis Club of Indianapolis: Lila Mattick, Covenant Christian High School

According to her coach, Lila was the glue that held the Covenant Christian girls basketball team together this season. She is well known as a hard worker and hustler on the court, and a team leader who is constantly encouraging others. She has a 3.95 grade point average and constantly takes on many challenges outside sports, including intense year-round physical training for basketball. And she is cherished by her team for her habit of writing notes or creating cards of encouragement and leaving them around for the person to find. She was always the first person there to help teammates and opponents up from the floor after they fell and is described by her coach as “selfless and devoted, a woman of integrity, an encourager and an overall impressive person to be around.”

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Boys Team of the Year (PRESENTED BY USA TODAY SPORTS): Fishers High School basketball

Despite losing one of the country’s top players prior to the season, Fishers finished 29-1, winning its first sectional, regional, semistate and state championships since the school opened in 2007. The Tigers were ranked No. 1 for much of the season and capped off the year with a 65-56 win over defending champion Ben Davis in the Class 4A state final.

Girls Team of the Year (PRESENTED BY USA TODAY SPORTS): Volleyball, Hamilton Southeastern High School

HSE volleyball has been simply dominant. The Royals repeated as Class 4A state champions and have won 67 straight matches. HSE finished this year’s title run 33-0 with a 95-5 set differential led by a seven-girl senior class with five Division I commits. Perfection was the expectation for HSE. And it still raised the bar.

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School Spirit Award: Shortridge High School

Shortridge won this award based on a state-wide online vote. Shortridge won $1,000 for its athletic department.

Boys Athlete of the Year: Josh Ringer, East Central High School

Ringer led East Central to back-to-back Class 4A football state championships and finished his high school career with school records of 6,640 rushing yards and 118 total touchdowns. The Miami of Ohio recruit won IndyStar Mr. Football and was named Gatorade Player of the Year.

Girls Athlete of the Year: Lauren Harden, Hamilton Southeastern High School

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Harden led the Royals to back-to-back state championships and a 67-match winning streak. The University of Florida recruit was named MaxPreps National Player of the Year. A multi-time All-American, Harden had more than 1,000 kills in her HSE career.

IndyStar Mr. Football (PRESENTED BY THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTS): Josh Ringer, East Central High School

The Miami (Ohio) recruit ran for nearly 3,000 yards as a senior and scored 60 total touchdowns in leading the Trojans to back-to-back Class 4A state championships. He owns school records for rushing yards and total touchdowns and is just the second player from East Central to win Mr. Football.

IndyStar Miss Basketball (PRESENTED BY THE INDIANA PACERS): Chloe Spreen, Bedford North Lawrence High School

Spreen played a starring role in BNL’s Class 4A state championship run as a junior last year. For her encore, the 5-10 Alabama commit carried the Stars to a 20-5 record and a13th consecutive sectional title. She averaged career-highs in points and rebounds and finished second on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,869 points.

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IndyStar Mr. Basketball (PRESENTED BY THE INDIANA PACERS): Flory Bidunga, Kokomo High School

Bidunga earned a spot on the McDonald’s All American game and won the Gatorade Player of the Year for Indiana for a second consecutive season. The Kansas recruit averaged 19.0 points, 12.9 rebounds and 4.4 blocked shots per game to lead Kokomo to a Class 4A regional appearance this year. In three seasons at Kokomo, Bidunga finished with career totals of 1,609 points, 1,132 rebounds and 402 blocked shots while shooting 80.3% from the field. Kokomo reached the 4A state finals his junior year.

Girls Golfer of the Year (PRESENTED BY GOLFWEEK): Samantha Brown, Westfield High School

Brown completed her run to the individual state championship with an ultra-consistent, two-round total of 2-under-par — four shots better than a group of four golfers tying for the runner-up spot. The Purdue recruit finished the 36 holes with only two bogeys and was also named the IHSAA Mental Attitude Award winner.

Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year: Cameron Todd, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory

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A Notre Dame recruit, Todd won the boys individual championship, posting the seventh-best time in state history, and fastest since 2011. At the Foot Locker national championship in San Diego, he finished eighth (the top Midwest finisher).

Boys Soccer Player of the Year: Cole Thompson, Noblesville High School

Voted player of the year by the Indiana High School Soccer Coaches Association, Thompson allowed just 12 goals in 21 games played this past season. He recorded 10 shutouts and stopped nearly half the penalty kicks he faced, which included three straight PK victories to reach the state finals. “We have Cole Thompson. Best keeper in the nation,” one teammate said.

Boys Tennis Player of the Year: Alex Antonopoulos, North Central High School

The individual boys state champion, Antonopoulos picked up North Central’s lone point in a 4-1 quarterfinal loss to eventual state champion Carmel, winning his No. 1 singles match 6-1, 6-2. A Western Michigan recruit, he finished his senior season 22-0 and won the individual singles state final with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Columbus North’s Hank Lin.

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Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year: Libby Dowty, Indian Creek High School

The Indian Creek sophomore led most of the IHSAA state finals, until she was passed with 400 meters left, but Dowty regained the lead and in the final 200 meters and went on to become the first Indian Creek girl to win a cross-country state title with a time of 17 minutes, 6.7 seconds. She won a sectional title by more than 30 seconds and a regional title by more than 20 seconds. Dowty finished third at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional and was named Gatorade Indiana Cross Country runner of the year.

Girls Soccer Player of the Year: Hailey Wade, Hamilton Southeastern High School

Named 2023 Player of the Year by the Indiana High School Soccer Coaches Association, Wade allowed just seven goals this season with nine shutouts, helping lead the Royals to a Hoosier Crossroads Conference title. Over her career, the Valparaiso commit had more shutouts than goals allowed.

Girls Volleyball Player of the Year: Lauren Harden, Hamilton Southeastern High School

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Just the second player in program history to clear 1,000 career digs, Harden also set HSE’s all-time kills record on her way to helping the Royals become the fourth undefeated Class 4A state champion in state history. The Florida-bound standout closed out her career with 13 kills in the state final vs. Castle.

Boys Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year: Matthew Klinge, William Henry Harrison High School

Klinge won a third straight state title in the 50 freestyle and repeated as state champion in the 100 butterfly. He was just .07 seconds off the state record in the 50 freestyle, set by NCAA champion and Olympian Drew Kibler. An Ohio State recruit, Klinge will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, hosted this summer at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Girls Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year: Alex Shackell, Carmel High School

Shackell posted four first-place finishes in helping the Greyhounds extend their national record to a 38th straight state team title. She broke her own state record in the 100 butterfly, won the 100 backstroke and was part of two winning relay teams. In December’s East Junior Nationals, the California commit finished first in seven events and featured times that bettered high school state records in six.

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Boys Wrestler of the Year: Jake Hockaday, Brownsburg High School

Hockaday finished the season with a 37-2 record and the state title at 132 pounds. He helped guide Brownsburg to its first team title since 2017. An Oklahoma commit, Hockaday has won individual state titles in each of his three seasons so far and is ranked among the top recruits in the 2025 class.

Girls Gymnast of the Year: Elly Kiran, Crown Point High School

The all-around individual state champion, Kiran placed first in the vault and floor exercise and placed second in the uneven bars and balance beam, helping Crown Point to a second team state title in three years. Kiran was also named the Mildred M. Ball Mental Attitude Award winner at the state meet.

Girls Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year: Alex Shackell, Carmel High School

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Shackell posted four first-place finishes in helping the Greyhounds extend their national record to a 38th straight state team title. She broke her own state record in the 100 butterfly, won the 100 backstroke and was part of two winning relay teams. In December’s East Junior Nationals, the California commit finished first in seven events and featured times that bettered high school state records in six.

Girls Wrestler of the Year: Julianna Ocampo, New Haven High School

Ocampo won the girls state title at 110 pounds in January, finishing with a 22-1 record. A month later, she made history becoming the first girls wrestler to medal at the boys state finals. In her third career state finals appearance, Ocampo placed sixth at 106 pounds.

For spring sports, watch list athletes were recognized at the show. The Indystar will announce Player of the Year winners in those sports later in the school Year. Also, athletes who won Athlete of the Week awards during the school year were recognized at the show.

The Indiana High School Sports Awards show is part of the USA TODAY High School Sports Awards, the largest high school sports recognition program in the country.

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