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Friday, March 28, 2014 8:39 PM

Cougar track and field primed for 2014

By SEAN LaFONTAINE

Times Bulletin Correspondent

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VAN WERT — Expectations are high for the Van Wert boys and girls track teams this spring - despite losing one of the most decorated runners in school history.

Gone from last year’s squad is 2013 800-meter run Division II State champion and 2014 1,600-meter runner-up Jared Fleming, who has taken his talents to Kent State University.

Also gone is Kase Schalois, a multiple-time state qualifier who is now running at Ohio Northern.

Despite the losses, Coach Mark Collins has a host of very talented runners returning this spring.

“We have three boys who placed at state last year that will be returning,” said Collins. “Nick Krugh, Quincy Salcido and Connor Holliday. Krugh and Salcido were both on the 4x4 team that placed sixth at state last year and Holliday was on the 4x8 team that placed fourth in state.”

“Terrance Branson is also back off of the state 4x2 team but is coming off a broken leg and isn’t expected to return until mid-April.”

In the past two years, the Van Wert boys team finished first and second in the Western Buckeye League meets, respectively.

“We want to be competitive and we think we have a chance to win if we are competitive,” continued Collins. “We are going to have to pick up some field event points and the last two years we have failed to score in the field events. So we are working hard on field events to try and change that.”

Amanda Clay is a senior who is a 2-time State qualifier and qualified last year in the 400 on the girls side. She has the school record in the 100, 200 and 400 meters as well as being on the relay teams who hold the record for the 4x400, 4x200 and 4x100.

“She is probably the most dominant sprinter we have ever had at Van Wert; she gave up soccer to run cross country and build some strength. Over the winter she has put in a lot of off-season work and is very talented,” explained Collins.

Alexis Dowdy went to state last year in the shot put as a sophomore and has been the conference champion the past two seasons. Whitney Meyers is a junior hurdler who was all-conference last season. Alicia Davis is another returning sprinters who looks to be big contributors this season.

“Andrea Foster is senior who is running real well right now,” added Collins. “Chloe Gamble was one of our main distance runner as a freshman and is coming back, along with Megan Barnhardt who is a very talented distance runner.”

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Knights look to make another step in track and field

By NICK JOHNSON

Times Bulletin Correspondent

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CONVOY - The Crestview Knights track team look to build on the success from last year and hopefully surpass it. This year, the Knights have a lot of underclassmen that are looking to take the next step this year and try to make it to regionals and possibly state.

The Knights sent two runners to the state track meet as Isaiah Kline (16th in the 400 meters) and Mycah Grandstaff (9th in the 3,200 meters) both qualified.

The boys team also welcomes back Malcolm Oliver, a regional level long-jumper. Preston Zaleski returns and along with his relay mates in Oliver and Kline they hope to take their 4x100 and 4x200 relays past district, at least. Scott Miller returns as one of the Knights’ best throwers from last year.

The girls squad gets back Grace Callow, who took a year off but was an alternate for a relay that went to state a couple years back. She should be able to help Crestview in the short sprints. The Knights also return Jaime Mohr who will be doing the pole vault and short to long sprints; she just barely missed a shot to go to regionals. Bekka Tracy is a junior and has gotten a lot stronger in the shot put and discus. Crestview also has Courtney Trigg, who is looking to try the discus and has senior-level leadership and experience.

The Knights on both sides have some underclassmen, mainly freshmen, that the coaching staff is expecting big things from this year. Caleb Bagley, Dylan Grandstaff and Alex Cunningham highlight the newcomers for the Knights. Grandstaff and Cunningham are trying track for the first time but good things are expected from both.

The girls newbies include freshmen Tommi Anderson and Deanna Wells, both were really good at the middle-school level and have the potential to do great things this year but just need a little molding at the high-school level. The Knights are hoping they can make the adjustment quickly.

“From year to year, regardless how many kids are on the team ,we want to use our schedule and use our duals and tri-meets to develop a routine when we get to the end of the year. Most of the meets we run are filled with schools that we know are tradition powerhouses every year,” Crestview coach James Lautzenheiser said. “We try to find those Midwest Athletic Conference schools as much as we can to give us some variety but also find schools that are running at a high level year in and year out. The goal for us is by the time we get to that first weekend in May, we want to have our full tournament roster almost set. We also want to have our personal battles for first and seconds spots set for each event. And after that, it is our kick for our second season. We tell our kids the closer you can get to beating Van Wert, the better we are going to have a well-rounded team.

“It is going to be a struggle for our girls team because we don’t have the numbers we need but we are going to take our licks. But hopefully we will be able to take some key events coming down the stretch and in the tournament. I think we can get a girls relay to regionals even though we are running with maybe 14-16 girls.

“For the guys, with the numbers and strength we have, we can push for top three in the conference and try to beat Van Wert at home. We need to push for top five at the District level. I feel that if we can get our guys to be top four there, then I feel we have a good shot to get some guys and some relay to Columbus to the state meet.”

The Crestview girls tracksters are set to open the season today at the Versailles Lady Tiger Classique, while the boys (and girls) host a tri-meet on Thursday, April 3.

 

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