Highland boys’ track coach Steven Stooksbury has high hopes for his team this year if they can get quality production from a young group in the field events. “We will be very strong in the sprints and sprint relays,” he said. “We will also be okay in distance events, as well. Field events will be our biggest concern. We are very young in this area.”
In the sprints, junior Brock Veley was a regional qualifier in the 100-meter dash last year. Junior Brody Matthews, sophomores Jack Weaver and Bailey Damron and freshmen Ryan Weissenfluh and Landyn Albanese will also be expected to contribute points in those events.
Senior Travis Mentzer and junior Dalton Lee are the top distance runners, with sophomore Gavin DeAngelo helping in mid-distance events. Sophomore Nic Gregerson and freshmen Landon Remmert and Colton Gustafson will run hurdles, while sophomore Cody Baisden will help in the throws.
The team did suffer losses from last year, with Austin Albanese, Will Parsley, Logan Veley and Zach Baker graduating and Gavin Kafka moving out of state. Stooksbury noted that many of those athletes played a big role in field events.
Still, the coach has high hopes for this season.
“I would think Mount Gilead and Northmor will be very strong and if we can find some athletes to score in field events, we will be able to compete as well,” he said.
The girls’ team will also be counting on a number of young athletes. Head coach Derek Bower noted that 28 of his team’s 36 athletes are either freshmen or sophomores. “We are very young and inexperienced,” he said. “We will need to work on lots of race strategy, technique and field event execution this year.”
However, he does have a number of returnees who’ve experienced success last year. Senior distance runner Alex Debord was a regional qualifier in the 3200-meter relay, while senior distance runner Sophia Thompson, junior thrower Erin Conner, sophomore thrower Lauryn Smith and sophomore sprinter/hurdler Chalsea Sweet all were league placers in at least one event.
He also has high expectations for sophomore sprinter Madison Bolton and freshmen Makenna Belcher (sprints/hurdles) and Peyton Carpenter (long jump/sprints).
“The Highland girls should be strong in distance with Alex Debord and Sophia Thompson returning,” he said. “Makenna Belcher, Bridget Oder and Peyton Carpenter, new to the high school track team, should also be able to contribute. Erin Conner and Lauryn Smith will also be able to help us in shot and discus.”
Bower is hoping for his team to improve as the season progresses, while being successful in several events.
“Our goal is to improve each time we walk onto the track or to our field event,” he said. “I expect great success in distance and some of the sprints.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS
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