The McNicholas girls track and field team has built a legacy.
For the past eight seasons, the Rockets have finished first or second at the district meet. Even with graduating two district champions, Catherine Adams and Megan Schaefer, coach Kyle Jepson believes they will be in that mix again.
“We graduated two district champions and almost our entire distance team,” he said. “But, we have underclassmen ready to step up and field those roles.”
The Rockets are counting on senior hurdler Ericka Kaimer, juniors Emily Tekulve, a sprinter, and Beth Simmons, distance, and sophomores Morgan Vogler and Megan Rack.
McNick opened the season March 31 by hosting the Coaches Classic.
A younger and smaller Anderson team greets head coach Teresa Gross, who returns for a second year after spending significant time away from coaching to raise her family.
Of the 32 girls who came out for the team, there are eight returning from last season, including three senior captains – Jenna Hazelbaker, Tayloranne Kaufmann and Maddie O’Toole.
Hazelbaker excelled in the weights last year by taking second in the discus and sixth in the shot put in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference meet and was a district qualifier in both events.
Kaufmann and O’Toole run sprint and distance races, respectively.
“I am working with awesome kids,” Gross said. “They’re hard workers and I can see them improving as the season goes on.”
Turpin took third in the ECC meet behind Walnut Hills and Kings and sent 4×800 members Isabella King, Lauren Kobasuk, Elena Polivka, and Jenny Morton to the regional meet last year.
This year might be an interesting one for head coach Missy Siemers and the Spartans as they return an experienced half of the team and add a half that’s brand new.
“It will be interesting to see how the brand new ones fit in to what we do,” she said.
The Spartans top returners include Caroline Mink and Olivia Connaughton.
Mink won the 800 meter run in last year’s ECC meet and Connaughton was the league champion in cross country this year. Siemers said Connaughton was very versatile and could run different distances for the Spartans this season.
So far, the team’s great experiment of seeing how the newer track athletes fit is going fairly well. Freshman Erica Langan won the 3,200 at Harrison over the weekend.
Siemers said other rookies Molly Finnigan and Kirby Heltman could step in and contribute as well.
Walnut Hills has also been a consistent league trophy winner as the Lady Eagles have snared five straight between the old Fort Ancient Valley Conference and the Eastern Cincinnati Conference.
Starters returning for coach Amanda Robinson are seniors Hannah Schroeder, Taylor Darks, Arissa Freeman, Collier Summay, Kelly Coleman, Keira Hassel and Janae Trimble, junior Amari Hunter and sophomores Rachel Berndsen and Kahla Cornett.
Among the Walnut Hills accolades, Freeman is a four-time league champion in the 100, 200, 4×100 relay and 4×200 relay and has won ECC Runner of the Year two straight years. She qualified for regionals in all of her events.
Darks is heading to Furman for basketball and will try to run track. She was fifth at the Division I state meet in the 400 meters at 55.81 and could challenge the Walnut Hills record set by Ashley Liverpool in 2010. In addition to being district and regional champ in the 400, she was first team in the 4×200 and 4×400 relays.
“She is one of the most talented athletes I have ever coached,” Robinson said. “She decided to run track for the very first time her freshman year and has continuously improved her 400 time.”
Senior Hassel will lead the Lady Eagles in shot put and discus and newcomer Tai’Lynn Jones placed fourth in the long jump and sixth in the triple jump during Indoor Championships. She will also sprint and hurdle.
“We have not let off the gas pedal and aim to once again win the ECC team championship,” Robinson said. “After a few missteps at the 2014 district meet, we hope to once again challenge Mason for the top spot in Southwest Ohio.”
Incoming freshmen Jones, Chloe Shiff, Jeresa Anderson and Regan Anderson are expected to contribute and score, with Jones making an immediate impact in jumps and hurdles. Sophomore Cornett will be a sprint specialist and distance runners Skylar Bruggeman, Schroeder, Coleman, Summay and Shiff should score in the various longer events.
Berndsen is the lone pole vaulter and Hassel will also tutor Sydney Rhone and Hannah Freeman in discus and shot put.
Walnut Hills will be in the April 2 Middletown Showdown before appearing in the Coaches Classic at Winton Woods April 8-10.
The Miami Valley Christian Academy track team is coached by Steve Krebsfanger. Seniors Molly Babb and Katie Park return as starters.
The Lady Lions won the Ohio Valley Athletic League last season led by sophomore sprinter Michelle Lee, freshman Laura Vilardo in the 1,600 and 3,200 and Ally Petty, the OVAL champ in the 1,600.
“Our program is growing,” Krebsfanger said. “We have more girls participating in track this year than ever before.”
MVCA will participate in the Deer Park Invitational on April 7. The coed squad will also be in the CCD Invitational April 11, the Reading Invitational April 24, the Seven Hills Invitational April 27, the Batavia Invitational April 29, the CHCA Invitational May 6 and CNE Invitational May 8.
When looking at St. Ursula Academy’s track and field team, the discussion must start with Annie Heffernan.
The decorated senior will lead the Bulldogs once again this season.
She specializes in the 1,600, 3,200 and 4×800 and took home titles in the 800, 1,600, 3,200 and ran the anchor leg of the 4×800 in last year’s Girls Greater Catholic League meet.
She won the gold in the 1600 at state last year.
Fifth-year head coach Dan Bird will also look for good seasons from Danielle Springer, Maria Weisgerber, Alexandra Goss and Caitlin Kelly.
Kelly and Weisgerber will run the 1,600, 3,200 and 4×800 along with Heffernan. Springer will compete in the high and long jumps. Goss will participate in the 100 meter hurdles.
She won the event as a junior at last year’s GGCL meet.
“We have a talented senior and junior class to lead the team, and very large sophomore and freshmen classes which have the potential to help the team this year,” Bird said.
ATHLETES TO WATCH
McNicholas junior Beth Simmons: Ran the third leg of the Rockets’ Division II regional-qualifying 4×800-meter relay team.
Anderson senior Jenna Hazelbaker: Excelled in the weights last year by taking second in the discus and sixth in the shot put in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference meet and was a district qualifier in both events.
Turpin’s Caroline Mink: Won the 800 in last year’s ECC meet.
Turpin sophomore Olivia Connaughton: She was the conference champion in cross country this season.
Walnut Hills senior Arissa Freeman: Two-time ECC Runner of the Year and a four-event league champion.
Walnut Hills senior Taylor Darks: District and regional champion in the 400 last season and finished fifth at the state meet.