Avon boys aim to defend WSC title
By Ryan Kaczmarski and Joe Ostrica
After winning the West Shore Conference championship last year, the Avon High School boys track and field team is looking to defend its title this spring. The Eagles have 85 athletes on the roster, including an impressive 37 returning letter winners.
Jake Bitter is among the key athletes returning for Avon. Bitter holds the school record in the 200 with a time of 22.26. Bitter, John DeMarco and Antonio Orr are returning school record holders in the 4×100 relay (42.99), the 4×200 (1:30.30) and the sprint medley (1:35.93). DeMarco holds the record in the 400 (50.36) and the 4×400, along with Paul Yeager.
“Our team has 59 freshman and sophomores on the roster this year,” Lanham said. “We are strong in the sprints, relays and distance. I’m looking forward to another great season. There are many opportunities for the underclassman to step in an fill vacant varsity positions due to graduation.”
The Rocky River High School boys track and field team is coming off an impressive 2013 season in which it finished 7-1 overall, and third at the West Shore Conference championship meet.
The Pirates lost many key team members to graduation, including Jon Hinson, Klaudio Merizaj, Allan Chan, Adam Nickels, Jared Sparks, Ihsaan Tayeh, Ryan Dahler and Adam Smith.
“That team was a solid group of athletes, with a nice mix of upperclassmen and newcomers and freshmen,” Pirates first-year head coach Mark Hogya said.
The key returning lettermen include seniors Justin Reynolds (distance), Marcel Johnson (sprints) and Josh Ruckman (jumps); juniors Ethan Heald (distance), Tudor Sandu (distance), Brandon Williams (distance) and Will Summers (sprints); and sophomores Evan Nugent (sprints), Jacob Wischmeier (hurdles) and Dane Shirley (throws).
“The seniors will bring varsity experience, with strong leadership,” Hogya said.
Some newcomers to varsity this year include freshmen Tim McDonough (hurdles), Jake Vehar (high jump) and Andrea Shelgu (throws).
According to Hogya the strength of the Pirates this year will be the distance events.
“We need to build varsity depth for the other areas of the team,” he stated. “We want to win the dual meets, WSC championship meet and qualify athletes for regionals and state meets.”
The Bay High School boys squad is coming off a fourth-place finish at the 2013 Perry district meet, but will be missing state qualifyer Zack Baumgard, who graduated last spring.
“Zack Baumgard was a great mid-distance runner,” Rockets head coach Ronald Rutt said. “He ran a 1:56 fourth-leg in the 4×800 at states, putting us in eighth place. He was a team leader and tremendous worker. His effort and attitude will be most difficult to replace this season.”
The key returning lettermen include juniors Matt Orr and Isaac Mertic, both mid-distance runners, and sophomore Jack Hautz, who was district champion in the 3200 meter run last season.
The team also boasts seven seniors, including Austin Buchwald, James Dudek, Tyler Campbell, Aaron Campbell, Jeremy Gillespie, Cameron Taylor and Evan Chmielewski.
“Tyler Campbell is an excellent athlete who can do just about any event for us,” Rutt explained. “Austin Buchwald and James Dudek were both strong contributors for us last season.
“We also have a number of newcomers to the track program that I’m excited to see in action,” he continued. “Luke Kish, Josh Barr and Alex Fenner have all shown potential in the pole vault. Freshmen Sean Chambers, Jimmy Firtik and Greg Hastings should all help us out in sprinting events.”
Bay has circled the Bell Invitational as the biggest meet on this year’s schedule.
“We should have great depth this season, with 54 boys in the program in grades 9-12,” Rutt concluded. “We should be very strong in the distance events.”
The Lakewood High School program has a new leader this year in head coach Mike Dow.
The team will also be led by seniors Nick Boatman (distance), Sobhi Awadallah (throws), Sean McConnell (sprints/jumps) and Nick LaCerva, J.T. Rinehart and Aiden Howells in the distance events; and juniors Mike Johnson, Airren Robinson and Be Ly Stockman, who can solidify the program for the future.
Key newcomers include Henry Bish, Ty Shaun Blevins, Maleke Norton, Adam Giffels, Jimmy Toner and David Kemp.
“Our team goals are to build a program that will be competitive in both the conference and district meets,” Dow said. “With a large team – 60 members strong – we expect to be very competitive in all events.”
The North Ridgeville High School boys head coach Lucky Varouh said last year’s seniors will certainly be missed this spring.
“Qualifying to regionals, and eventually state, was very exciting,” he said. “We are expecting big things from West Shore Conference MVP and regional qualifier Jonah Bowden, district champion and state qualifier DeMario McCall, Billy Dwulat and Jason Lucas, who were both state qualifiers also.”
Bowden, a junior, will compete in the throwing events. McCall is a sophomore sprinter. Lucas is a senior hurdler and Dwulat is a junior sprinter.
Other returning Ranger letter winners include senior distance runner Evan Collier, sophomore distance runner Riley Gannon, junior sprinter and long jumper Mike Halligan, sophomore middle distance runner James Hicks, junior middle distance runner Isaiah Santiago and sophomore high jumper Corbin Zanick.