Southwestern's Mitchell Cline.
Southwestern's Mitchell Cline.
One of the best pure athletes to ever walk the halls at Southwestern High School, Mitchell Cline, has been a proven success at whatever sport he chooses to play.

But it is track & field where Cline has excelled. Later this spring he will attempt to become the first Rebel in school history to win an individual state championship.

That ability made Cline a target of several colleges and on Saturday he officially signed to run track at Indiana State University.

“I’ve been pretty excited about it,” Cline said. “I’ve been talking to the coaches on and off and they seem excited too. That’s reassuring.”

Cline had already made a name for himself in both soccer and wrestling. As a goalie and a midfielder, Cline was one of the best players in the area and he reached the semistate twice in wrestling before deciding to give basketball a shot this winter where he started 20 games.

But it is his success on the track that has stood out. He finished 10th in the 400-meter dash state finals last year and could qualify for the state finals in several other events.

After having spent all school year playing multiple sports, Cline admitted that it will be weird to concentrate on just one.

“I tried to keep the basketball season dragging out because now for the next four years I’ll be doing just track,” said Cline, who plans to major in law enforcement. “But I know coming home me and my cousins will be able to do whatever we want and that won’t be too bad.”

Southwestern track & field coach Zac Nussbaum said that while Cline is a natural athlete, he only recently took up the sport and can’t wait to see what he accomplishes in the future.

“He’s got to be one of the most gifted athletes we’ve ever had come through here,” Nussbaum said. “But I think something that people don’t realize is, he is also one of the hardest workers. I wish I had grabbed him in junior high; this is only his fourth year running the sport. It’s pretty incredible what he has been able to do in just four years.”

Five of the nine athletes who finished ahead of Cline in the 400 state finals last year graduated, including his chief local rival Daunte O’Banion of Madison, who placed fifth. Cline finished just one-tenth of a second out of a medal a year ago and has already declared that to be his primary goal this year.

“I want to get that medal, that’s the big thing for me,” Cline said. “And who knows? I get a little faster and improve, maybe I can win that state title as well.”