The 2023 IHSAA Track and Field State finals will take place at Indiana University over the weekend where the best athletes in the state will showcase their incredible athletic talents.
One Bloomington athlete will get the opportunity to showcase both his athletic talent and musical talent in front of the crowd at the Billy Hayes Track in the Robert Haugh Complex on IU's campus.
Hunter Tabor, a junior at Bloomington South and member of the Panthers Track and Field program, will be racing on a leg of South's 4x800 meter relay on Friday, and then will go on to sing the national anthem at all three track and field state finals throughout the weekend. (Boys on Friday, Unified on Saturday Morning, and Girls on Saturday afternoon)
Tabor, a member of the choir group at South aptly named "Sounds of South", was approached by his choir director Gwen Witten Upchurch about the opportunity after someone asked her if she knew of anyone who might be available to sing at the State finals.
"They (meet direction) reached out to me and asked me if I'd be available and I said 'sure I'll be there, so I can sing,'" Tabor said.
Tabor, always the first to step up to the plate, was ecstatic about the opportunity set in front of him.
"If the people on my team know anything about me, they know that I enjoy running, but i also love singing and do it constantly, so I'm really excited."
(Hunter's full interview with MileSplit Indiana)
Hunter the Runner
Tabor, like many athletes, was born into a family that lived and breathed a certain sport. The Tabor family sport was indeed running.
Tabor's dad Jon and mom Kristina have been a part of the Indiana running community the majority of their lives. Both were high school athletes and then both ran cross country and track at Taylor University where they eventually met.
Jon and Kristina were both high school coaches in New Castle when Hunter was young and he has some cool moments to look back on from those early times getting hooked on the sport.
"From a young age I would be going to the cross country camps or meets with my dad and mom, as a little kid cheering on, the athletes would take pictures with holding the trophy in one hand and the coaches son in the other."
The Tabor's eventually moved to Bloomington, Indiana where Hunter would naturally run cross country and track at Bachelor Middle School before moving on to Bloomington South.
It was never a guarantee though that Hunter would compete at the high school level.
"I was a little unsure, I was kind of burnt out from racing at the middle school level, so I don't know about competing in high school, obviously 3 years later here I am."
Since joining the programs at South, Tabor has competed in two state cross country meets and will be running his first state track meet on Friday.
(Hunter Tabor prepares to lead off South's 4x800 at the 2023 Flashes Showcase)
Hunter the Performer
One of Tabor's first memories of performing for an audience was at church when he was only four years old and he had memorized a verse of a hymn and sang it in front of a big group. They all applauded, but little did they know Tabor was not done yet as he had memorized all four verses of the hymn and continued to perform.
"I've been a very outgoing person, I enjoy performing in many different ways and so musical theater was something that I was involved in at our YMCA in New Castle, that was something I did for many years."
Since Tabor has been at Bloomington South he has performed in a number of performances with "Sounds of South" and other groups as well which included a State Title in the ISMA competition just in the last few months.
Tabor's influence and impact with the "Sounds of South" program was so strong this past fall that when him and another athlete/performer Jake Keller, were both running in the State Cross country meet on the day of a performance, the director moved the entire production an hour so that they had more time to get back from Terre Haute before getting ready to perform in the school musical "Oklahoma".
That moment, one of the first mentions of what feels like a "High School Musical" moment for Tabor.
(Tabor performing in the musical "Oklahoma" put on by Sounds of South last fall)
"The only thing that would make this better, is if I sang during the race," Tabor exclaimed proudly when prodded the question of this being his "HSM" moment.
As Tabor put it best quoting Troy Bolton and continuing the HSM crossover analogies, he'll cheer on his teammates through song with "Get Your Head in the Game."
For those who will be at the meet early enough on Friday to see Hunter perform in the 4x800 relay, you will see a fierce competitor who once thought high school running wouldn't be his thing.
Then, when you see the same Hunter step out to the start/finish line to perform the national anthem three times over the course of 24 hours, only a short time after having competed in the State Finals, you'll realize exactly how he got on track to be on this stage.
As always, pun intended.
The 2023 IHSAA Track and Field State Finals will take place at Indiana University on Friday, June 2nd (Boys) and Saturday, June 3rd (Girls).
Links to More IHSAA State Finals Coverage