Demons leadership to propel Westlake to top of SWC
By Ryan Kaczmarski and Joe Ostrica
The Westlake High School boys track and field team is coming off a 2013 season in which it went 5-2, and returns most of the squad to contend for a Southwestern Conference title.
“We were largely led by our junior class last year, so we are excited to have a lot of leaders, with a lot of experience, returning to the team,” Westlake head coach Jacob Schober said.
The key returning lettermen include seniors Daniel Squeri (sprints), Rudy Keppler (sprints), Parker Novel (sprints/hurdles/long jump), Tyree Wesley (sprints), Gavin Kelly (distance), Alex Busser (throws), James Bailey (throws), Brian Hood (sprints), Aaron Wargo (sprints/hurdles) and Evan Milovich (distance); and sophomores JaQuan Hardy (sprints/long jump), Mike Sedlak (pole vault) and Will Reilly (hurdles).
“Squeri is our returning MVP, so we are looking for him to play a big role this year, especially more in the shorter distance sprints, whereas before he had specialized in the 400 meter run,” Schober said. “Gavin Kelly is our strongest distance runner, when healthy, and can compete at a high level in a number of events.
“Parker Novel and Aaron Wargo are both realy hard workers who put in a lot of time in the offseason to improve in the hurdle and jump events, and we will be looking for that hard work to pay off throughout the year.”
There are also a slew of newcomers who will be key for the Demons this season.
“Logan Fry is a transfer in from out of state who will help our distance team,” Schober explained. “Qdarr Robinson and Tariq Beach are two freshmen whowill immediately help out the varsity squad in the sprint and jumping events.”
According the Schober, the biggest meets on this year’s schedule are the Amherst Comet Relays,Olmsted Falls Bulldog Relays, Avon Lake invitational and the SWC championships. While the Demons have depth across the roster and a large experienced senior class, there are still some facets of the team which could stand to improve.
“The jumping events have always been a weakness of ours, but we look to change that this year with guys like Wargo, Hardy, Novel and Sedlak making big contributions in high jump, long jump aqnd pole vault,” Schober stated. “We have a lot of competitive sprinters, but lack that one guy to lead the pack every day, and in every meet, to score the big points for us.”
After spending the last four years as an assistant coach, Scott Derbin has taken the reigns of the North Olmsted High School boys track and field squad, and he has many returning lettermen who will be key to the Eagles’ success, including seniors Stephen Davis, Beau Bilinski, Eric Ragland, DanPieros and Frank Reddy; and juniors Brad Tomcho and Kyle Sanborn.
The key newcomers to varsity this season are junior Ben Kurcsak and freshmen Josh Hufstetler and Keegan Welsh.
“Team chemistry has never been better,” Derbin said. “It’s tough to do in track, but the vibe is great with this group.
“We are young and will have a lot of room for improvement throughout the year,” he added. “The SWC championship meet is the biggest and most important meet to all of us. We want to be peaking physically and mentally at that point of the season.”
The Olmsted Falls High School team also has many returning lettermen this year, including seniors Jake Bolton, Tyler Bowman, Chase Brock, Evan Hudson, Derek Meadows, Andy Nageotte, Craig Partlow, Chase Reynolds, Jontae Torok and Chase Zivicsak; juniors Randy Chitester and Emillio Irzarry; and sophomore Matt Garrett.
“Our boys team has a strong group of returning sprinters and hurdlers, along with a promising nucleus of young distance runners,” Bulldogs head coach John Novotny said. “The team’s overall success will be determined by how well our field event athletes develop and perform throughout the year.”
The Avon Lake boys track and field team will be looking to improve on its fourth-place finish at last year’s Southwestern Conference championship meet. The Shoremen have 83 members on the squad this year.
“We have a strong distance team and a core group of throwers,” Avon Lake head coach Rob Rocco, now in his sixth year with the Shoremen, said. “We have a lot of young sprinters and a lot of freshman athletes.
“We have a large team this year. We have a great group of guys for our excellent coaching staff to work with this season. This is a group one that the coaching staff is excited to work with.”
Max Seipel, who won SWC titles in shot put and discus, is back for Avon Lake. Seipel qualified in both throwing events at the state meet and is looking to remain the local thrower to beat this season.
Also back is Tim Villari, who placed first in the 3,200 at the SWC championship meet last year. Villari, Nick Nix and James Darkow were three of the four members from Avon Lake’s 3,200 regional qualifying team.