By Mark Ambrogi
Roncalli High School senior Zander Hooten is the epitome of versatility among track and field athletes.
“Athletically due to his combination of speed and power I would argue that he is the best athlete in the building,” Roncalli track and field coach Frank Litz said. “I can put him in any event on the track, and he will be successful. He is incredibly coachable and has a great ability to make his own athletic adjustments, for example, steps in between hurdles or his take-off point on the long jump runway.”
Hooten qualified in the 60-meter hurdles and long jump for the indoor state track and field meet. He placed 10th in the hurdles and 12th in long jump.
Hooten won three different events, 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and long jump at the Archdiocesan Meet earlier on April 6. He has run the second-fastest time in program history in the 110 hurdles and is in all-time top 10 in the other two. In 2021, he was an outdoor state qualifier in the 300 hurdles and 400-meter-relay.
“My goals are to qualify in long jump, 300 hurdles, 110 hurdles and 4×100 relay again,” Hooten said. “I like the 110 high hurdles the best now because it’s the most new to me. I didn’t start that until this year. I like finding the whole process of finding new strategies and ways to get better in it.”
Hooten competed in the high jump before this year but gave it up for the 110 hurdles. Hooten said with other competitive high jumpers on the team, it didn’t affect the team’s strength to move to 110 hurdles. Hooten said he keeps setting personal records each meet in the high hurdles.
Hooten played football his freshman year at Roncalli and then played soccer his sophomore and junior year. Hooten was a wide receiver in football and forward in soccer. He played both sports growing up.
“This year I joined a club track team (Indiana Storm), so I did track year-round,” he said.
Hooten signed to compete for Bellarmine University in Louisville in the 2022-23 season.
“I like it’s new in Division I,” he said of Bellarmine. “No one has expectations on (the program), and I get to make them. It has a really good nursing program. It’s far enough away from home, but it’s not far. It was a perfect combination for me.”
Litz is eager to see what Hooten can do at the next level.
“I think that when he gets on a college campus and can narrow his focus to simply academics and athletics that he has potential to really take off,” Litz said.
Hooten, who lives in Greenwood, started competing in track and field as an eighth grader.
“I’ve always been a little more on the quick side, so I decided to give it a try,” he said.
Hooten shows his versatility off the track and fields as well. A show choir member, Hooten was in the chorus in the school musical, “Holiday Inn” in November 2021. He previously had roles in other musicals as well.
“Our choral and sports departments do a really good job of making sure you can find time for both of them,” Hooten said. “It’s encouraged to find time for fine arts at our school. I joined on a whim, and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
THE HOOTEN FILE
NAME: Zander Hooten
SPORT: Track and field
COLLEGE PLANS: Study nursing and compete in track and field at Bellarmine University in Louisville
HOBBIES: Show choir
FAVORITE SUBJECT: History
FAVORITE ATHLETE: Sprinter Noah Lyles
FAVORITE MOVIE: La La Land
DREAM VACATION SPOT: Hawaii
PARENTS: Terry and Greg Hooten