The track still measures 400-meters around and nothing has been altered for the field events.
But the overall scenery has changed for many area boys’ track and field teams this season, as several conference switches will result in new road trips, new competition and new rivalries.
Chief among the changing league landscape is the addition of the Interstate Eight Conference, as local schools Harper Creek, Pennfield, Marshall and Coldwater helped form the new league.
Lakeview is coming off a SMAC East Division Championship, and will face some new competition after the Beavers, Redhawks and Cardinals left the league for the I-8.
Pennfield wasn’t the only local school to bolt the Kalamazoo Valley Association, which is disbanding after this season. Both Maple Valley and Olivet left the league to help form the Greater Lansing Athletic Conference.
St. Philip remains in the Southern Central Athletic Association, as the Tigers will look to defend their West Division title.
Also joining a new league this season is Bronson, which jumps to the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph (B-C-S) Conference after years in the St. Joe Valley.
Individually, three defending state champions from the area are back on the track in Coldwater’s Logan Targgart (discus), Homer’s Hunter Weeks (high jump) and Union City’s Aaron Watson (100 dash).
Here’s a closer look at the 2015 area boys’ track and field teams:
Battle Creek Central
Coach: Larry Caper (18th season)
2014 record: 3-4, fifth in SMAC
Top returners: Devon Macon, jr. hurdles; Nicholas Insley, jr. distance; Hector Gembe, sr. distance; Keshawn Canales, so. hurdles; Makalin Mabin, sr. throws; Shawn Mabin, sr. throws; Brandon Randle, jr. long jump, hurdles; Malik Thompson, jr. high jump, sprints; Cyntell Williams, jr. sprints; Jackie Hampton, so. sprints, middle distance
Outlook: The Bearcats saw a boost in both numbers and talent this season, which should bode well as they compete in a traditionally strong Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference.
“With the program getting bigger and better, our goal is to place high in our conference and do well at the regional meet, and get as many as we can to the state meet May 30, 2015,” Caper said. “With focus and hard work, which always pays off, the Bearcats have a great chance this year.”
Coach: Larry Quick (18th season)
2014 record: 4-3, third in SMAC East
Top returners: Khylen Watkins, sr.; James Cadena, sr.; Brad Thomas, sr.; Ethan Brabant, sr.; Brad Bohannon, sr.; Connor Caldwell, sr.; Ty Shaw, sr.; Cole Schneider, sr.; Jake Carr, sr.; Quinton Berning, sr.
Outlook: What the Beavers lack in experience, they make up for in numbers. Harper Creek has a big team this year as they compete in the newly-formed Interstate Eight Conference, although it may take some time before the Beavers reach their full potential.
“There were too many distractions last season and it affected us as a team,” Quick said. “This year there will not be any distractions. Despite only having 12 returners, we have a squad of almost 60 members and 22 seniors. We will probably struggle early on, especially while trying to get our new kids into the right events. Hopefully we can figure it out and stay out of the basement in the new I-8 conference.”
Coach: Matt Miller (14th season)
2014 record: 7-0; first in SMAC East
Top returners: Daniel Walker, sr. hurdles; Forrest Cope, sr. distance; Jon Haadsma, sr. distance; Mike Martin, sr. pole vault; Ethan Parr, sr. distance; Geonta Miller, sr. sprits/long jump; David Morrow, sr. hurdles; Malik Schrad, sr. sprints/long jump; Jake Watson, sr. high jump/sprints; Zach Portteus, sr. middle distance; Jaden Sebring, sr. middle distance; Darrian Irby, jr. sprints; Brandon VanOosten, jr. distance; Dre’On Kemp, jr. sprints; DaLeon Graham, jr. jumps/hurdles; Roberto Lara, jr. sprints; Matt Ross, jr. throws; Andrew Vincent, jr. throws; Jaylen Boggerty, so. sprints; CJ Foster, so. sprints; Michael Miller, so. throws; JayVion Settles, so. sprints
Outlook: The Spartans have strung together five consecutive city and conference titles. Keeping the streak going won’t be easy for Lakeview, but having a large roster with several reigning conference champions certainly helps.
“I look forward to another great season of track and field,” Miller said. “We lost a great senior class to graduation. I feel that our current squad is young, but has a ton of potential with 65 total boys out for track. Conference and city should be wide open this year. Should be a fun and exciting season that we look forward to.”
Coach: Rick McKire (17th season)
2014 record: Eighth in KVA
Top returners: DaWan Smith II, sr. sprints/long jump; Kody Page, sr. sprints; Ben Campbell, sr. distance; Dalton Mauchmar, so. middle distance; Trevor Sisco, sr. throws; Andrew Lambert, so. distance
Outlook: After struggling in the Kalamazoo Valley Association a year ago, it won’t get any easier for the Panthers in the newly-formed Interstate Eight Conference as low numbers will limit their competitiveness in the team standings. However, there are several athletes capable of contending for individual league and state honors.
“Our boys’ team is very young and very inexperienced,” McKire said. “We lack depth and talent. Our four seniors will carry a big load this year. They are more than capable to help a very young team go through the trials presented in a very good I-8 Conference and come out with some levels of confidence. With numbers down, we continue to find ways to encourage others to become attracted to our sport.”
Coach: Jeff Minier (second season)
2014 record: 8-0, first in SCAA West
Top returners: Kevin Greenman, sr. high jump/sprints; Jordan Scovie, sr. throws; David Downey, jr. long jump/sprints; Zach Spiegla, sr. sprints; Mac Flook, sr. sprints; Tim Minier, so. sprints; Drew Lantinga, so. distance; Jack Greenman, so. distance
Outlook: Coming off a first-place finish in the Southern Central Athletic Conference East Division, the Tigers will look to build off their successful 2014 season, led by four returning state qualifiers in Kevin Greenman, Jordan Scovie, David Downey and Tim Minier.
“St. Philip has one of the largest track teams the program’s had in recent memory,” said Minier. “With 33 athletes, our goals are to win a division and league title and qualify as many athletes to the state meet. We are in one of the toughest regionals, so the boys are really working hard.”
Coach: Jim Oswalt (first season)
2014 record: Seventh in the Big Eight
Top returners: Jonah Harris, sr.; Jacob Iles, sr.; Gabe Golyar, sr.; Shannon Kenyon, sr.; Austin Fuller, jr.; Steen Waring, jr.; Casey Hardin, jr.; Sebastian Hamilton, jr.; Tanner Nixon, jr.; Joe Kline, so.; Robert Hind, so.; Jacob Giles, so.; Michael Brandvold, so.
Outlook: After a disappointing finish in the Big Eight Conference a year ago, the Indians hope to climb the standings, led by a couple of returning state qualifiers in Jonah Harris and Jacob Iles.
“I think Athens will have a good season this year,” Oswalt said. “We have a good group of long distance runners and sprinters, so we should be strong in both areas, as well as relays. Our field events will be strong, as we have two returners that qualified for state last year, along with others that have a strong desire to make it this year.”
Coach: David Lodes (seventh season); Nick Frisbie (second season)
2014 record: n/a
Top returners: Jason Keiser, jr.; Trevor Woods, jr.; Zach Mobley, jr.; Kyler Skidmore, jr.; Zack Scholly, so.
Outlook: With better numbers, Climax-Scotts hopes to secure more team points this season after finishing in the middle of the pack in the Southern Central Athletic Association a year ago.
“The boys’ team has a number of newcomers in the sprints and better numbers this year,” said Lodes. “Expect them to make a run for the division championship this year. The sprint relays should be very strong this year and should be in the mix for a league championship and state qualifying time.”
Coach: Jeff Schorfhaar (fourth season)
2014 record: 3-4 SMAC East; ninth at Division 2 State Finals
Top returners: Logan Targgart, sr. throws; Zach DeMeester, sr. shot put/sprints; Connor Covert, so. throws; Spencer Leist, sr. distance; Blaze Watson, sr. pole vault; Josh Evers, jr. distance; Adam Clemens, jr. distance; Zach Murphy, so. distance; Matt Sowles, jr. distance; Matt AcMoody, sr. distance
Outlook: Coming off a top-10 finish at the state meet last year, the Cardinals bring a lot of momentum into the 2015 season. Led by state champion Logan Targgart, who placed first in the discus and second in the shot put in Division 2, Coldwater is ready to make some noise in the newly-formed Interstate Eight Conference.
“Our strength this year will definitely be in the throwing and distance events,” Schorfhaar said. “We return a state champion in the throws and our distance runners had a very successful cross country season and have been working hard in the offseason to continue their success this spring. If we are going to be competitive in our new league we are going to have to get some points in the sprinting events. We have some young sprinters that have some potential so it should be interesting. I am looking forward to the new league and it should be competitive from the top to the bottom.”
Coach: Paige Smolarz (third season)
2014 record: n/a
Top returners: Spencer Smolarz, sr. long jump; Kale Schumacher, sr. throws; Ben Weaver, sr. hurdles; Ronnie Moyer, sr. throws; Nick Martin, sr. throws; Corey Collins, sr. sprints; Nathan Clipfell, jr. distance; Larry Peppers, jr. distance; Jacob Cornett, jr. sprints; Damean Shook, jr. sprints/distance; Dane Wilson, so. sprints; Zachary Greenwald, so. throws; Daniel Alva, so. distance; Derek Sechrest, so. throws.
Outlook: The Magi appear to have a wealth of experience, led by a stellar senior class. With a well-balanced roster, Colon figures to be a contender in the SCAA.
“We have a lot of talent on this team,” Smolarz said. “My senior class will score a lot of points for us this year. They have a strong work ethic that will set a great example for the younger kids and they are excited about track, which makes them fun to coach. We have always been strong in the field events and this year is no exception. I have a lot of strong throwers this year. We will also be strong in the long and high high jumps… We also have a lot more speed this year, which I am really excited about.”
Coach: Dale Grimes (11th season)
2014 record: 5-4; fifth in KVA; seventh at regional
Top returners: Gary Egelkraut, sr. sprints/relays/high jump; Lucas Hansen, sr. sprints/long jump; Brock Mueller, sr. distance; Devin Pratt, sr. throws; Cole Mabie, sr. jumps; Jacob Reed, jr. hurdles/relays; Malcolm Rogers, jr. distance; Brandon Shepard, jr. distance; Zeb Culbert, jr. jumps; Steven Patrick, jr. sprints; Wyatt Mast, so. distance; Andrew Jackson, so. distance
Outlook: In the final year competing in the KVA, Delton Kellogg wants to go out with another league title, led by a pair of reigning league champions in seniors Gary Egelkraut and Lucas Hansen.
“The team is very excited about being able to compete on the new track this year and very grateful to the community for making such a generous investment that will benefit DK athletics and the community for years to come,” Grimes said. “Additionally, the team is eager to have the opportunity to compete for a 20th and final KVA Championship this season. This is the 70th year of the KVA and the Delton Kellogg boys track team has recorded the most championships in the conference of any of the member schools. Most of the championships came under the guidance of the legendary coach Fred Pessell.
The team will have to perform extremely well to earn the crown back in this final year. We will be relying heavily on our juniors and seniors who have seen what it takes to win championships, as well as a strong group of underclassmen who have already contributed to the team’s success by earning significant points in the first meet of the season.”
Coach: Lindsay Toth (first season)
2014 record: n/a
Top returners: Ryan Ranes, sr. throws; Tristan Terry, so. throws/long jump
Outlook: The Rams will compete in the Kalamazoo Valley Association one final time before the league disbands. G-A will be led by senior Ryan Ranes, who will contend for the state title in the discus after placing sixth in the event at the State Finals a year ago.
“The Galesburg-Augusta boys’ track and field team has a solid group of returners ready to lead our growing team,” Toth said.
Coach: Randy Hunt (second season)
2014 record: n/a
Top returners: Joey Dawson; Dan Pelyhes; Nick Busby; Drew Scarff; Devin Barnes; Jake Lyons; Austin Lovett; Geoff Campbell; Reid Williams
Outlook: Competing in the deep and talented Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference, wins won’t come easy for the Blue Devils. But Gull Lake has the talent and the depth to surprise some teams.
“We have better numbers and depth compared to last year,” Hunt said. “I feel that we will start quietly picking up more places in the individual events then surprise some people in the relays. With this combination, I hope to shock some teams in the SMAC and qualify even more athletes to state.”
Coach: Austin Rodgers (first season)
2014 record: n/a
Top returners: Hunter Weeks, sr. high jump; Mason Smith, sr. throws; Dylan Hamilton, sr. middle distance; Austin Yeakey, sr. distance; Shawn Hoaglin, sr. sprints
Outlook: The Trojans feel they can contend in a perennially strong Big Eight Conference, led by senior Hunter Weeks, the defending state champion in the high jump.
“We are a team, we look out for each other, and pick each other up and we are not individuals,” Rodgers said. “Our team is looking very strong and resilient, we have already had our battles with injuries and know more will come, but we know we can overcome them… We are blessed to have a great group of seniors that will lead our team, and help set the tempo for the younger up-and-coming athletes. We also have great underclassmen that are taking on big roles in the team’s success. My expectations for this team this season is simply — I expect we will be competitive in every meet we participate in, with many athletes leading the Big Eight and moving on past regionals.”
Coach: Matt Gordeneer (first season)
2014 record: n/a
Top returners: Trent Carpenter, sprints; Cole Decker, throws; Skylor Shively, distance
Outlook: A new era begins at Maple Valley, as the Lions join a new league in the Greater Lansing Athletic Conference with a new coach at the helm. With many young athletes, the future appears bright for the Lions.
“The season looks pretty good,” Gordeneer said. “We’ll be going up against some tough teams, but I think we’ve got some talent to show them. There are a lot of younger kids on the team and the seniors are very good leaders, which will help them improve a great deal.”
Coach: Jim Hendershot (second season)
2014 record: 5-2
Top returners: Bryce Blanchard, sr. sprints/hurdles; Tyler Horn, sr. sprints/hurdles’ Weston Herman, sr. distance; Owen Osborn, sr. sprints; Kurt Swaton, sr. distance; Brandon Turner, sr. middle distance; Travis Mumaw, sr. middle distance/jumps; Jontaj Wallace, sr. distance; Jeremiah Grant, sr. middle distance; Forrest Jackson, jr. sprints/jumps; Jaylin Alexander, jr. sprints/jumps; Chris Bell, jr. middle distance; Chris Thomas, jr. sprints/jumps; Cyn-Tonio Bright-Mitchell, jr. throws
Outlook: After a successful run in the SMAC East Conference, Marshall jumps over to the newly-formed Interstate Eight Conference where they will be among the league favorites.
“This team’s biggest asset will be its senior leadership,” Hendershot said. “We have a great group of seniors that have been four-year varsity track athletes. On the track our strength will come from our sprints/relays and distance groups. Field events will be a work in progress but we have some potential there. Our expectation never changes — to win meets with great individual efforts contributing to the team results.”
Coach: Brian Lincoln (first season)
2014 record: 4-3, second in KVA
Top returners: Silver Dotts, jr. hurdles/jumps; Deion Feldpausch, sr. middle distance/relays; Collin Hannahs, jr. distance; Hunter Hoffman, sr. sprints; Joe MacInnis, sr. distance/relays; Chase Martin, jr. sprints/relays; Malachi Saylers, sr. throws; Ben Turner, sr. pole vault/relays; Jake Zona, jr. pole vault
Outlook: After a stellar runner-up finish in the KVA a year ago, the Eagles now turn their attention to trying to win the newly-formed Greater Lansing Athletic Conference. With a talented team that is deep in several events, Olivet will look to continue its success with a new head coach in Lincoln.
“The boys have been training hard so far, they are looking to move up in the standings this season,” Lincoln said. “We return a lot of good athletes in many events. Our success will depend on how hard we continue to work and the development of depth.”
Coach: Jim Supianoski (22nd season)
2014 record: 7-2, third in Big Eight
Top returners: Tanner Parshall, sr. sprints; Michael Fisher, so. sprints; Joe Oberlitner, jr. throws; Logan Widlitzki, jr. field events; Mason Whitney, jr. throws; Dallas Franks, so. distance; Bryce Bassage, so. middle distance; Casper Boshers, so. distance; Jared Brown, jr. distance
Outlook: The Orioles will be a much different looking team in 2015, with many fresh faces new to the fold. Still, Quincy does return some experience, led by senior Tanner Parshall, who led the team in scoring and tied the school benchmark in the 100 dash.
“We lost eight All-Conference and state performers from last year’s team due to graduation,” Supianoski said. “Those athletes scored over 700 points last year, so we have a lot of points to make up. Our team this year is made up of mostly freshman and sophomores so we are very inexperienced.”
Coach: Tony Bowling (21st season)
2014 record: 12th in SCAA
Top returners: Calvin Blue, so. distance; Kodey Brashares, jr. throws; Luke Hayes, sr. sprints; Justin Frigerio (Marshall Academy), distance
Outlook: Luke Hayes is the lone senior returner on a young Indians team. Tekonsha will look to climb the SCAA standings, with some help via co-op with Marshall Academy.
“Overall much more depth in the sprints and middle distance,” Bowling said. “Team goal is to finish higher in the final league standings and qualify some for the state finals.
Coach: Mike Eyre (18th season)
2014 record: 4-3
Top returners: Aaron Watson, sr. sprints; Spencer Connell, sr. sprints/middle distance; Isaac Reincke, sr. throws; Thomas Anderson, jr. jumps/sprints; Jalen Boes, jr. jumps/sprints; Brandon Cross, so. throws
Outlook: After an impressive showing in Division 3 a year ago, the Chargers make the move down to Division 4. That bodes well for a team that returns one of the top sprinters in the state in Aaron Watson, who won the Division 3 state title in the 100 dash a year ago.
“Our team is extremely talented with speed and strength,” Eyre said. “The top seniors and juniors are geared up to compete against the best athletes in the state. The team is focused on getting past the cold weather and preparing for the Big Eight Conference, D4 regionals and the D4 state meet.”
The Enquirer will be running high school spring previews throughout the next two weeks. See the Enquirer daily for information on your favorite team, or go online to read about sports you may have missed.
Today: Boy’ track
Previously: Baseball, softball, golf, tennis, girls’ track; see stories online at http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/sports
Coming soon: Soccer, lacrosse