Varsity Track and Field Season Previews
By Ryan Kaczmarski
Spring is here, and area high school athletes are ready to run, jump, vault and throw into track and field season.
The BAY boys track and field team is the largest in recent history for the school, with an astounding 49 members this season, and fourth-year head coach Ronald Rutt is excited to see his Rockets in action.
“We have a number of returning (letter winners), as well as several newcomers and freshmen,” Rutt said. “Having 49 boys in the program should provide us with good depth and flexibility in filling out our lineups.”
The Rockets return their 2012 regional-qualifying 4×800 relay team of seniors James Fell, Zach Baumgard and Griffin Thompson and sophomore Matt Orr. Fell was also the West Shore Conference champion in the 1600m last season.
“Zach Baumgard should be one of the best in the WSC in both the 400m and 800m,” Rutt said. “Junior Tyler Campbell – a hard worker and tough competitor – will be one of our top sprinters and long jumpers and Scott Rapps is a do-it-all field event guy for us, specializing in the high jump, long jump, shot put and discus.
“Our distance crew should be the strength of our team this year,” he added. “We will be inexperienced in the sprint events, with a number of rookies looking to make an impact. Also, losing Marek Mutch (to graduation), who placed third at state in the pole vault last year, will be a difficult void to fill this season.”
The Rockets girls team has many key members of last year’s team returning, including Eva Rezek, who placed second in the WSC in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and long jump last season. Kristine Johnston returns to compete in the 100m and 400m, Rachael Williams will continue in various sprint events, Claire Schrantz will be key in the pole vault and Maddie Britton (regional qualifier in the 3200m), Sarah Christel, Maddie Voiers and Hallie Bechtel will be running the distance events.
Newcomers to look out for are Lydia Barnes in the hurdles and sprints, Olivia Bechtel in sprints, Abby Christel in distance events and Emma Smith in the middle distance events.
“We have a fantastic freshman class, and mixed with solid upperclassmen, we are looking to achieve much more at the conference meet this year, than we did last year,” third-year head coach Kirsten Millet said.
The LAKEWOOD boys had a record of 3-2 last year in the Northeast Ohio Conference, placing fourth at the NOC championships, but the Rangers will be making their WSC debut this season without two-time 3200m state qualifier, and school record holder Nick Jackosky, who was lost to graduation.
The Rangers have Nick Boatman and Ben Toole returning in the distance races and Sobhi Awadallah returning in the throwing events. A key newcomer to the team is Sean McConnell in the pole vault and high jump.
“Seniors Thomas Pano, Ben Toole and Peter Quigley bring the kind of work ethic I want every day, out of every athlete … 110 percent,” head coach Scott Troyan said. “Sobhi Awadallah is also a team captain – along with Nick Boatman – and he has all the throwers working at the highest level their coach has ever seen.
Troyan is looking forward to his team hosting the 33rd annual Ranger Relays.
“I’m looking for veterans to improve off their performances from last year, with the newcomers and underclassmen to step up and contribute,” he said.
The Lakewood girls team follows up a 2012 season in which they were co-champions of the NOC Lake Division, with a move to the WSC, where they hope to continue their success.
Leading the way for the Ranger girls is senior Amanda Sacha. Sacha, who has signed to run for Ohio University, was a state qualifier in the 400m last year with a school record time of 56.71.
“Joining Sacha are former regional qualifiers Julie Herman (300 hurdles, 4×400), Simone Brown (4×400), Alyssa Hasman (1600m, 4×400, 4×800), Maeve Christie (800m, 4×800), and Hannah Gregory (4×800), along with All-NOC runners, Anna Riddle, Pryce Macon, Megan Hogya and Caitlin Conner, and promising newcomers Connie Boyd, Maggie Pizzo, Elena Dyke, Mallory Shaw, Claire Toole and Liz McIlwee, this promises to be an exciting season for the Rangers,” head coach Mike Schreiner said.
Last year’s ROCKY RIVER boys team had many talented guys, but the depth was depleted due to graduation the year before. It was looking like hurdles and pole vault might be areas of need coming into the season, but the returning and new guys are stepping up and should help fill holes.
“Our sprints are anchored by seniors Adam Nickels, Jared Sparks, and Ihsaan Tayeh,” Pirates head boys coach Brian Reynolds said. “We also gained sprinting depth with the return of Marcel Johnson (a junior) and we have high hopes for freshmen Evan Nugent, Jack Omori, and Jacob Wischmeier, as well.
“Our best pole vaulter is senior Adam Smith, and senior Allen Chan leads the long jumpers. Senior Ryan Dahler also looks promising in the hurdle and jumping events. In the throwing events, senior Klaudio Merizaj returns after a year off and should lead shot putters. Junior transfer Dave Lizanich could be a contender in both the 400m and the throwing events as well. We are also looking for good things from freshmen twins Collin and Dane Shirley in the throws. Senior Jon Hinson is our top returning discus thrower. The distance squad is led by veterans Justin Reynolds (a junior) and Ethan Heald (a sophomore), with freshman Charlie Swartz looking to make an impact right away as well.”
Reynolds sees the Lakewood Ranger Relays as a great starting point for the season, and finishing with the home event, Bell Invitational.
“We have over 60 kids out this year, which has given us a lot of depth in both the short sprints and on the distance squad,” Reynolds said. “All the even younger guys have quickly stepped up to challenge seasoned veterans. Because of good leadership from all seniors, this group shows great work ethic and they all work together very well. It is going to be a lot of fun coaching them this year.”
The Pirates girls team is defending its WSC championship this season, but will be without the top three girls from the 2012 season in Elyse Bierut, Morgan Berg and Maddy McDonough, all lost to graduation.
The Pirates do return state qualifiers Madi Connelly, Sarah Lesiecki, Ellen Corcoran and Monica McDonough.
“Captains Connelly, Maddy Fitzsimmons and Lesiecki are all four- year team members and great role models,” head girls coach Julie Achladis said. “We want to win the conference for eighth year in a row. We also want numerous regional and state qualifiers.”
The FAIRVIEW boys return this year with a solid group of 45 athletes, along with some new talent, that will hopefully boost its sprint and middle distance teams.
“We are looking to fill some spots after losing regional qualifier Chris Gillmore in the 4X800 (Hurdles, 800, and first team All-Patriot Athletic Conference 4X400/4X800), state qualifier Rory Juhn (1st Team All-PAC in the High Jump and Hurdles/All-Ohio), James Roland first team All-PAC 4×400/Sprinter and Brian Hom (800 & 1600),” Warriors head coach Rich Friel said. “Our team last season finished third out of 12 at the PAC meet, and seventh out of 11 at the district meet.
“We will be strong this season again in the middle distances,” he added. “Our distance crew will be led by (Senior and four-year runner) John Miles first team All-PAC in the 4X800/Regional Qualifier in the 4X800 & 1600m) along with a solid group of young distance runners hungry for success. I feel optimistic about our short sprints this season, with the addition of some new athletes from the soccer and football program that will make for some interesting competition for our relays.”
Leading the 400m/800m crew will be senior captain Blake Beard, first team All-PAC in the 4X800 and 4X400/regional qualifier in the 4X800 and 800m, who finished seventh in the 800m at regionals.
“Blake (a four- year runner) has been our work horse from the 200 to 800 meters,” Friel said. “This season we are encouraged by our younger runners and newcomers to help Blake with his team mission this season. Also returning will be senior Jon Krabil in the 400m/800m and jumps, senior Tyler Keating in the sprints, senior Mike Wilkinson (first-team All-PAC and regional qualifier in the 4X800, senior David Salamon (first-team All-PAC in the 4X400, seniors Nate Seelback and Eric Suru in the sprints and jumps and senior Brandon Thompson will lead our Shot/Disc crew, and juniors Cortez Harris and Henry Hvizdos will lead our high jump and long jump crew.”
The Warriors girls finished third out of 12 in the PAC and 16th in the district last season.
“The girls are motivated to make it back to regional competition after a disappointing district last season,” Friel said. “This year’s team is hoping to get back into higher state competition.”
The girls only lost one senior from last year’s team in Molly Rehor (second team All-PAC 4X800 and 400M runner).
“Our girls will struggle with depth again this season with 23 girls on the roster,” Friel added. “Returning for the girls is senior captain Lindsay Hardwood in the hurdles, sprints and jumps. This will be Lindsay’s fourth year in the program, and she has been a consistent competitor. Lindsay is an athlete that will do whatever is necessary for the team from running a 100m to an 800m. Junior (Captain) Stephanie Miller, who was first team All-PAC in the 400M, and will run anything from the 800m to the 100m, along with the long jump, senior Hanna Powers in the pole vault and high jump also return.
“Our middle distance crew will be led by junior Emma McQuate (first team All-PAC in the 1600M Run/2nd Team All-PAC in the 800M run), junior Shannon Kilbane (second team All-PAC in the 4X800 and hurdler and sophomore Hanna Tesema will help lead our shot/disc crew. Returning to our sprint crew this season is junior Claire Rehor, who was out last season with a knee injury and we are looking forward to seeing her back in action.
“Last season our small group of girls surprised the staff at the PAC championship with a great performance with only 20 athletes. This season we see the same numbers but a more experienced team along with some new talent that we are hoping to step in and fill some spots.”
The LUTHERAN WEST boys team will be looking to improve on its seventh place finish in the PAC and its 14th place finish in districts. To do that the Longhorns will need to have some key performers heal up. Returning lettermen junior Josh Sekola (last year’s co-MVP), sophomore Nick Knudsen and junior Collin Fueger all had knee surgeries during the past months.
“Whether or when they will be ready to return is unknown at this time,” Longhorns head coach Joe King said.
Returning lettermen from last year are co-MVP, junior Peter Koza (sprints); senior Nash Hagen (sprints, long jump); senior Brian Giguere (distance); junior Matt Brown (distance); junior Drew Fuchs (distance); junior Justin Watson (distance); senior Jacob Pierse (throws); and sophomore Jaan Pirn (distance).
“Having Drew Fuchs and Justin Watson healthy after injuries last year will be a bonus for us,” King said. “Drew and Justin give us strength in our distance events. Senior Pat Hofener and sophomore Travis Spillane will help us in the throws. Sophomores Jon Handwerk and Clay Carper are both promising sprinters and hurdlers.
“Our turnout has been good, and we’ll have to see how our young athletes do. Peter Koza, Nash Hagen, Josh Sekola and Nick Knudsen were regional qualifiers in the 4×100 relay last year. We hope, by May, we can have them back together and healthy.”
The Longhorn girls team returns to action with 15 letter winners for the 2013 season. Last year’s team finished fifth in the PAC and 13th in districts. Returning letter winners are MVP, senior Nicole Swanson (jumps); senior Marissa Nuti (middle distance, regional qualifier in the 800 run); sophomore Johanna Ragland (throws); senior Alison Henry (sprints/hurdles); sophomore Gabbie Schultz (throws); junior Olivia Vasiloff (distance); junior Maddie McDowell (jumps); senior Amanda Stephens (throws); sophomore Marissa Turba (sprints/relays); senior Lindsay Tomola (middle distance); sophomore Katie Snable (distance); junior Kylie Cash (distance); senior Ari Tomosula (sprints); sophomore Kiersten Kemmet (sprints/hurdles); and sophomore Alexandra Mercado (sprints).
“We are excited with our turnout of girls this year,” King said. “We have strength in our distance runners with Olivia Vasiloff and Lindsay Tomola being healthy again. Johanna Ragland, Gabbie Schultz, and Amanda Stephens give us depth in the throwing events.
“I am excited about newcomers like freshman Michaela Bierly and sophomore Amanda Elkins in the distance events. Senior Morgan Davenport is healthy and back at hurdles. We have some promising sprinters in our newcomers, and we’ll have to see how they compete. We are looking forward to the season ahead.”
The WESTLAKE boys team is looking to match last year’s success, when it went 7-0 in the Southwestern Conference (8-0 overall), but the Demons will have to do it with new faces in key spots in the lineup.
“We lost Alec Cusick (eighth-place state 110 hurdles), and Carl Laux (state qualifier in shot put) and Kyle Perkins (regional qualifier in hurdles), but besides that, we have a really strong core of seniors and juniors to keep our team at a high level,” head boys coach Jacob Schober said. “It was the best year we’ve had in awhile last year (third place in the SWC) and look to improve upon that this year.”
The key returning letter winners for the Demons are Tyree Wesley (100, 200, 4×100, 4×200, 4×400, three event-placer in SWC conference meet), Rudy Keppler (400, 4×100, 4×200, 4×400, three event-placer in SWC conference meet and regional qualifier in 4×400 relay), Tyler Zack (100, 200, 4×100, 4×200, 4×400, three event-placer in SWC conference meet), Daniel Squeri (200, 400, 4×400, 4×800 four event-placer in SWC conference meet and regional qualifier in the 4×400 relay), Logan Kelly (200, 400, 4×400, 4×800 four event-placer in SWC conference meet and regional qualifier in the 4×400 relay), Gavin Kelly (800, 1600, 4×400, 4×800), Parker Novel (hurdles, 100, 200), Evan Milovich (800, 1600), Jacob Ogonek (shot put, discus), Alex Busser (shot put, discus), Mike Sedlak (pole vault), Aaron Wargo (long jump, high jump, hurdles), Darrick Moore (100, 200), Quan Hardy (100, 200, 4 x 100, 4 x 200 relay).
“The sprinting squad should be very strong and deep this year, being led by Tyree Wesley, Rudy Keppler, Tyler Zack and Logan Kelly,” Schober said. “We want to build off last season’s success, and if we stay healthy and focused, we should be able to have a very successful year.”
The Demons girls team returns letter winners Jamie Hamilton (pole vault), Liz Kobe (800m), Julie Solarz (pole vault, hurdles), Madison Dunlap (800m, 1600m), Lauren Hurst (100m, 200m), Hayley Lyle (shot put), Missy Murthy (800m) and Sadie Roff (hurdles).
“The graduation of Charlotte Tate and Hayley Smik will really leave some large holes for the team to fill in the distance, relay and jumps events, but hopefully, with over 80 girls on the current roster, our youth and size, combined with our current talent, can fill some of those holes,” head girls coach Travis Haselswerdt said. “In regards to current talent, we are lucky to have a gifted group that will be the centerpiece of our team. Madison Dunlap, Liz Kobe and Missy Murthy will continue to bring significant talent to our middle-distance events, while Sadie Roff will play a lead role in our hurdle events. Julie Solarz and Jamie Hamilton will continue to share the lead in the pole vault, Hayley Lyle will continue to be a significant performer in the shot and Lauren Hurst looks to build on her excellent performances in the sprints.
“The key to the team’s success this year will come down to how many of our younger and newer athletes can join our core group, especially in the sprint relays and distance events. As far as goals, the team is looking to do well at both Lakewood and Westlake Relays and improve in the SWC (fifth last year).”
NORTH OLMSTED will be looking for boys to fill the vacant roster spots left by graduates Marc Remy, Sammy Ibriham and Matt Weber. Returning letter winners for the Eagles are sprinters Steven Davis and Dylan Maxwell; and distance runner Brad Tomcho.
“We lost a lot of talent from last year’s team,” head boys coach Michael Ptacek said. “I believe we will have some good long-jumpers and 400m-800m runners.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us, with a young and inexperienced team.”
The Eagles girls team is coming off an up and down 2012 season, in which its record was 4-3, and ended up fourth in the SWC.
“We lost many key athletes in last year’s squad, but gained many freshmen who could make a huge impact,” head girls coach Michelle Sanborn said. “We also lost our top quarter-miler and anchor leg of our 4×100 regional qualifying team, sophomore Danielle Yasenchack, to a soccer injury.”
The key returning letter winners are distance runners Emily Johr, Becca Shroka and Hailey Reines; sprinters Becky Szabo, Myk’a Walker and Ashley Welch; hurdler Taylor Welch; and Brook Bilinsky, Rachel Sadlon, Mary Jane Adams and Szabo in the field. Key incoming freshmen are Searra Bason, Stephanie Kemp, Caitlin Rodriguez, Naomi Walker, Stefani Salazar, Elise Covell, Allyson Fedor and Hannah Griswold.
“We are choosing captains this week,” Sanborn said. “Without mentioning names, we have certain girls that really motivate the girls to push themselves during workout. The upperclassmen are really looked up to and I believe that is why our freshmen are on the right track of being fantastic student-athletes.
“We are looking to place in the top three in the SWC. I think we have a very strong team that works hard and is very competitive. It will be interesting to see how our underclassmen develop and our upperclassmen shine.”
MAGINFICAT returns letter winners Macey Walker, Jacquelyn Misencik, Isabelle Haney and Katey Whitmore. Incoming freshmen Bina Frost (distance) and sprinters Annie Harter and Lilly Kramer should add some depth to this year’s roster.
“The team is heavy in new and young team members, who have great potential for coming together as a solid team that can demonstrate great success in the relays,” head coach Anjaenette Arabian Whitman said. “We are proud to boast an overall team GPA of 3.7 or higher. The majority of the team members take honors and AP-level classes. All members of the state qualifying teams for both cross country and track have been All-Ohio Academic Award recipients by earning a GPA of 3.5 or higher.”
OLMSTED FALLS did not respond by press time for inclusion to this article.