Coming off a second-place finish last season in the Girls Greater Catholic League, Seton High School, which won a Division I district championship last season, returns an experienced, formidable squad that should turn some heads this season.
The Saints are rich in experience and depth, both have first-year Seton coach Brian Laiveling and his team excited for the season.
“Team depth has always been a strength at Seton, but this team has more depth across all event areas than we’ve ever had in my years of coaching,” said Laiveling. “We have high-end talent in a lot of events and a couple girls right on their heels pushing them along … this is the deepest and most-talented team Seton has had in a long, long time.”
Leading the way this season for Seton are seniors Alyssa Ramstetter, Maria Torok, Kelsey Kurzhals, Gabriel Hirlinger, Gabrielle Kraemer and Lauren Lipps. Ramstetter, a Dayton signee for her throws, is looking to return to state again this season after finishing 11th last year in discus. Ramstetter’s also the defending GGCL champion in shot put and defending district champion in discus. Torok’s the defending district champion in the 400 meters, and one of the hardest workers on the team, Laiveling noted. Kurzhals will help out in the sprint events; she holds the school record in the 200 meters. Lipps will be another member of the sprint crew, while Hirlinger will help again in the distance events, and Kraemer will be back high jumping and hurdling.
Also keep an eye on junior Anna Schoster, the defending GGCL/district champion in the pole vault, as well as freshman Erica Schloemer who finished 11th at the state cross country meet and can run anything from 400 meters up to 3,200 meters. Sophomore Audrey Laiveling’s another key distance runner, and junior Kailua Brown will help in the sprint relays.
There’s a nice group returning this season at Taylor. The Yellow Jackets finished second last season in the Cincinnati Hills League and only graduated two seniors so they have plenty coming back and some new faces that should help out along the way.
Taylor hasn’t won a league title since 2005, according to coach James Tenhundfeld, who said, “I like how much our talent is spread out. We don’t count on one area to score all of our points. We’re as well-balanced as a coach could ask for.”
Leading the charge for Taylor will be senior Lizzi Lakamp, the school’s record holder in the 100 hurdles (15.35), 300 hurdles (45.74) and 200 dash (26.07). Lakamp, who placed seventh at the Division II state meet last season in 300 hurdles, is also aiming for the school’s 100 dash record this season, Tenhundfeld noted.
Junior Randi Schutte’s another returning state qualifier from last season. She placed tenth in the high jump, and is currently tied for the school high jump record (5’3″).
Also look for junior Sutty Godar, and sophomores Kylee Draughn and Alli Draughn to play key roles this season.
Tenhundfeld pointed out that this team is not just talented, but experienced, which will help mentor in a strong group of freshman joining the ranks at Taylor this year.
Expect a balanced group competing for Mercy this season. According to fourth-year coach Dennis Schapker, the Bobcats return most of their point-scorers from last season.
Mercy’s also coming off a season in which the Bobcats had their first state qualifier in seven years, but Emma Hatch graduated and is now running for Loyola Chicago. Mercy has 10 seniors leading the charge this year, on a roster of 58 girls which is a continued increase in recent years.
“I like our balance,” said Schapker. “Traditionally, we’ve been solid in the distance events and suffered sprinting wise. There’s a lot more balance in the running events than we’ve had before.”
Sophomore sprinter Jennifer Ramsey is Mercy’s leading returning point-scorer from last season. Ramsey was a regional qualifier in the 4×200 and 4×400 relays.
Senior Maria Waters, sophomore Alex Stevens and senior Megan Zeinner will be key parts in the distance crew this season.
Seniors Kellie Leonard and Shanaya Jones will handle hurdling duties. Jones will continue her track and field career at Wilmington College next year, Schapker said. And, in just her second year of competing, junior Madi Link will compete in shot and discus.
Not only is Mercy well-balanced this season, but the Bobcats have a depth that runs through their events which should help them score points.
Oak Hills only graduated two seniors from last year, so expect a more experienced group this season for the Highlanders. Fifth-year coach Jake Richards said he expects his team to perform well in the mid-distance to distance events. The Highlanders had no regional qualifiers last season.
In the middle and long distance events look for sophomore Makenzi Deidesheimer, senior Taylor Hoffman, sophomore Yasmine Garadah, junior Laura Jennrich, junior Sydney Kilgore, senior Katie Murray (Illinois signee for soccer), sophomore Liz Scarlato and junior Samantha Savard. Richards said there’s probably seven girls competing right now for the four relay spots, on what he says will be a tough 4×800 this year.
Richards said the Highlanders have never been known for their sprinting, but this season he thinks they’ll be improved. In the sprint events, keep an eye on freshman Tiana Brown, junior Kamilah Williams, junior Jasmine Barnes, junior Briana Staples, junior Alexis Conley and sophomore Megan Kappen, who was a Greater Miami Conference hurdler finalist as a freshman last year.
Senior Rachel Reif is a long jumper and one of the leaders, captain material, Richards said. Senior Nia Bellomo will lead discus and shot put throws.
Richards said he likes the numbers on this year’s team, which increased by about 15 athletes from last year.
“That always breeds competition day in and day out in practice,” said Richards. “No spot is secure because we have so many people gunning for those spots. I think it’s really gonna pan out well for us as we go through the year.”
The roster for Western Hills is not as deep on the girls side. The Mustangs will be talented in the sprint events, but they’ll lack slightly in the distance events. Second-year coach Lark Dudley said his team will be unable to field every event at a meet, but they will still compete.
With six seniors on the roster, the Mustangs have leadership. Senior Kyeisha Bell is a sprinting specialist in 100 and 200 meters. Senior Laurene Darby is another returning sprinter to watch.
Junior Miracle Flowers will lead the middle distance group, and Dudley said she’s hard worker athletically and academically. Dudley also said he’s expecting big things from freshman Shayla Springs, who will be a sprinter and also help on relays.
“I’m excited about the sprinting events and to see what Miracle can do in the middle distance,” Dudley said, adding that their goal is to get some girls to state and perform well in the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference.
West High’s first meet is April 7 at the Ross Relays.
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 1,600 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
Seton senior Alyssa Ramstetter: A district champion and state placer in discus last season.
Taylor senior Lizzi Lakamp: Took seventh place in 300 hurdles at the state meet last year.
Taylor junior Randi Schutte: Finished 10th in the state last season in the high jump.
Seton senior Maria Torok: The defending 400 meter district champion.
Mercy sophomore Jennifer Ramsey: A sprinter and the leading returning point scorer on her team.
Oak Hills sophomore Megan Kappen: A GMC finalist last season in the hurdle events.