DAYTON — The Fairborn-Xenia area boasts eight returning high school state track & field qualifiers, and has already had several successes during the indoor season, in what should be an exciting 2014 Spring campaign.
Just last month, athletes from Carroll and Xenia Christian earned solid finishes at the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (OATCCC) Indoor State Track meet in Akron. Xenia Christian distance runner Grace Norman, the first amputee to qualify for a state event in Ohio, finished seventh in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 12:04.
According to a member of the USA Paralympic Track & Field Committee, Norman’s time is the fastest recorded time for any female amputee in the nation thus far this season. She is seriously being considered as a future member of the Team USA Paralympics team.
Xenia Christian’s 3,200 relay team of Rachel Sweeney, Mallory Stemple, Ariana Nelson and Grace Nelson turned in a team-best mark of 10:22 to finish 11th. Ambassadors coach Lance Nelson said Sweeney opted not to compete in the Spring season for undisclosed reasons.
“As far as key runners for our girls team, we have Grace Norman, Ariana Nelson, Morgan Adams and Lauren Simmons who all have the potential to be conference champions, and also advance from districts to regionals in a couple of events each,” Nelson said.
The coach says boys team members Drew Riggle, Tyler Klostermeier, Haakon Nelson and Eric Cooper all have the potential to claim Metro Buckeye Conference titles and to advance to regionals this season. “Noah Cushman and Connor Davis will add great potential for our distance relays to do the same,” he added.
Carroll earned all-Ohio honors in four events in the Division II indoor meet. Tyler Pavliga was second in the boys triple jump, sixth in the 400-meter dash; and eighth in the 60-meter hurdles. Katie Abrahamowicz placed fourth in the girls triple jump to also earn all-Ohio honors. It’s the fifth consecutive year that Carroll has had a student athlete earn all-Ohio honors at the indoor meet.
The Patriots have a similar streak intact for the Spring outdoor season, too. Carroll has sent at least one athlete to the state outdoor meet in each of the past six years. Last year, since graduated senior Abey Saurine represented Carroll in Columbus in the girls high jump.
Coach Mike Triola says the boys team will be led by Pavliga (the 2013 Greater Catholic League champion in the 110 and 300 hurdles, the 2013 GCL North Runner of the Year), fellow seniors Tyler Howard (GCL North Field Event Athlete of the Year), Tyler Thompson (GCL Shot Put runner-up), GCL boys pole vault champ Colin Farrell, GCL high jump champ Brandon Nwankwo and junior Dakota Brunsman, the GCL champ in the mile run.
On the girls side of things, a quartet of seniors will lead the way. Emma Rumme claimed Girls Greater Cincinnati League honors last season in the pole vault and 100 hurdles, while Abrahamowicz was the GGCL’s long jump runner up. Anna Tyson was named to the all-GGCL squad in the 100 dash and was a part of the regional qualifying 800 relay team with Abrahamowicz and Alli Cline.
In response to a questionnaire sent to each of the area high school track and field coaches, Buccaneers coach Corey Burnette said he had three season expectations for his Xenia boys and girls track and field athletes to attain: “Continue the deep, rich tradition of Xenia track; Win the Greater Western Ohio Conference South Division; and represent our school and community at the state meet in Columbus!”
On the guys’ side, Burnette said sprinter-long jumper Khalil Capers, sprinter Bobo Jones, distance runners Brendan and Ryan Orchard, pole vaulter (and all-state kicker) Kole Patterson and distance running newcomer Daniel Michalski will play key roles in the Xenia Bucs’ fortunes this season.
Future Bowling Green Falcon Africa Strodes (sprints, long jump) leads the girls contingent. Burnette says Kegan Taylor (pole vault), Taryn Griffin and JaSherrell Scott (discus and shot put) and sprinters Mekayla Pullins and Tiese Carr are also expected to have strong seasons in 2014.
Seniors Strodes, Carr and Pullins teamed with graduated Tatum Washington on the state qualifying 400-meter relay team last season.
Fairborn should have three returning state qualifiers on its team this season.
Girls 400-meter runner Aaliyah Patten qualified to the Division I state meet a year ago, as did Skyhawk boys mile relay runners Jeremy Bridges and Adam Knaub (who paired with graduated seniors Guillebaldo Cepeda and Matt Cline).
Greenon’s talented miler Lianne Masquelier returns after competing at the state meet a season ago, as so does Cedarville’s state qualifying 300-meter hurdler J0nah Young.
The area’s track and field season officially began on Saturday with the rained out Tippecanoe Relays, but that event has now been tentatively rescheduled for today. Area teams Bellbrook, Greenon, Xenia and Xenia Christian were scheduled to compete. That creates a conflict for Bellbrook, who was also scheduled to compete in today’s Greeneview Quad meet in Jamestown.