The landscape may have altered for many area girls’ track and field teams this season with several league changes, but the goals have remained the same.
Every team is looking to make noise in their respective conference while qualifying as many individuals as possible for the MHSAA State Finals on May 20.
Among the teams facing new league competition this spring will be Harper Creek and Pennfield. Both teams join the newly-formed Interstate Eight Conference, with the Beavers leaving the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference and the Panthers departing the Kalamazoo Valley Association. Also competing in the I-8 after leaving the SMAC are Marshall and Coldwater.
Both Olivet and Maple Valley also left the Kalamazoo Valley Association, and will now compete in the inaugural season of the Greater Lansing Athletic Conference. Also, Bronson joins the newly-formed Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph (B-C-S) Conference.
Several individuals will try to repeat last season’s success, including Harper Creek sophomore Charley Andrews, the reigning Division 2 state champion in the shot put.
Here’s a closer look at the 2015 area girls’ track and field teams:
Battle Creek Central
Coach: Mike Armock (fourth season)
2014 record: n/a
Top returners: Jaylah Wade; Jamari Taylor; Shiane Mabin; Erion Taylor; Asha Holden; Anonda Crowder
Outlook: A bigger roster will help the Bearcats a number of ways this season. A young BCC team has a bright future, and will be led by a pair of seniors in Jaylah Wade and Jamari Taylor, as well as Ayrianna Smith, a transfer from Harper Creek.
“We have been able to get a few more girls out for the team this year, so things are once again looking up for us,” Armock said. “We have some strong freshmen in Karen Harris and Hailey Hill that will contribute this year in sprints and hurdles. Our seniors, Jaylah Wade and Jamari Taylor, will be great leaders for our young team. Shiane Mabin and Jamesha Smith will anchor our throws this season. Also, we welcome Ari Smith to our team as she was a state placer last year in Division 2.”
Coach: Dennis Anthony (15th season)
2014 record: 7-0 SMAC East; third in SMAC
Top returners: Charley Andrews, so. high jump/distance; Hannah Berning, so. distance; Jacey Bowers, so. sprints; Kenzie Callahan, sr. distance; Reagan Dishaw, jr. distance; Macy Hancock, sr. sprints; Lexus Kerr, sr. sprints; Chelsea Smith, sr. throws
Outlook: The Beavers return a wealth of experience from a team that went unbeaten while winning the SMAC East Division. Now Harper Creek is in the newly-formed Interstate Eight Conference, led by several returning state qualifiers including sophomore Charley Andrews — the reigning Division 2 state champion in the high jump.
“It’s going to be hard to surpass or even match our team success from last year,” said Anthony. “Our returning letterwinners are focused on building upon those team and individual successes regardless, and we love that about them. Seniors Kenzie Callahan, Tyla Douglas, Sole Esquivel, Sam Hollister, Lexus Kerr, Ulyana Kuvtyreva, Heather McDaniels, Maria Schneider and Chelsea Smith are demonstrating tremendous leadership with their work ethic, their willingness to try new events and their overall attitude of team-first… We don’t know much about the new league on the track, but we expect to compete at a high level this year, and accomplish many personal goals along the way.”
Coach: Becky Pryor (20th season)
2014 record: 6-1 SMAC East
Top returners: Brianna Cavinder, jr. throws; Taylar Coyer, so. middle distance; Emma Carey, so. throws; Emily Eldridge, so. throws; Hannah Emery, sr. pole vault/hurdles; Maggie Farrell, so. distance; Kirby Homer, sr. middle distance; Lauren Knox, jr. long jump/sprints; Meggie Riegle, jr. middle distance; Nora Shaffer, so. throws; Lily Steinecke, sr. sprints; Payton Stine, jr. middle distance; Alexie Williams-Edgerson, jr. sprints
Outlook: The Spartans will be a young team, but that doesn’t mean the expectations have been lowered. Lakeview’s schedule didn’t get any easier after fellow locals Harper Creek, Marshall and Coldwater left the SMAC East, but the team should remain competitive, led by senior Hannah Emery, who is committed to pole vault at Division I Appalachian State and recently broke the school record in the event.
“We are a young team with key leaders who will help guide the underclassmen in the right direction,” said Pryor. “We should be a strong team within the league and hope to get several athletes to the state meet.”
Coach: Rick McKire (17th season)
2014 record: Fifth in KVA
Top returners: Haylee Ribbey-Johnson, jr. pole vault/middle distance; Franastasia Jamierson, jr. sprints; Samantha Lahusky, so. sprints; Torey Fischer, so. pole vault/distance; Nikki Klinkel, sr. throws; Katie DeOliveria, jr. middle distance; Brooke Wenger, sr. sprints; Amber Gauthier, jr. shot put
Outlook: Pennfield doesn’t have the numbers to contend for a league title in its first season in the newly-formed Interstate Eight Conference. But the Panthers do have some outstanding individual talent that could be competing on the last day of the season at the state meet.
“Our girls team is promising with some very good individual talent,” McKire said. “We are young with low numbers. Our main goal this year is to get some of our very talented young athletes to experience success at the regional level to advance to state competition. Newcomer Arabia Bacon has already shown herself to be one of the best hurdlers in the area. She, along with Destiny Whitehead and Nakalya Long, should prove to be a winning combination in the hurdles event. Haylee Ribbey-Johnson, Franastasia Jamierson, Nikki Klinkel and Brooke Wenger should be enough upperclassmen power needed to lead us. Our goal is to fall somewhere in the middle of the conference.”
Coach: Jake VanderPol (second season)
2014 record: Third in SCAA; fifth at regionals; tied for 10th in Division 4
Top returners: Ava Strenge, so. distance; Riley Rutherford, jr. middle distance/field events; Meagan Casterline, so. sprints/middle distance/field events; Taylor Pessetti, so. hurdles/pole vault
Outlook: What St. Philip lacks in numbers it makes up for in talent. The team is led by sophomore distance runner Ava Strenge, who was runner-up in Division 4 in both the 1,600 and 3,200 last spring and was the Division 4 state champion in cross country this past fall.
“The St. Philip Tigers will look to continue the success the team experienced last year,” said VanderPol. “Despite having only 14 girls on the team, the outlook for the season is very bright. The team returns four girls who competed at the state finals last year and earned the top 10 finish. The program will rely on the strength of returning athletes Ava Strenge, Riley Rutherford, Meagan Casterline and Taylor Pessetti. The expectations for the program are to be competitive for a conference and regional title and have a lot of success at the state finals.”
Coach: Missy Hamilton (first season)
2014 record: Seventh in Big Eight Conference
Top returners: Shaylynn Tebo, sr.; Sara Parks, sr.; Maia Minier, jr.; Samantha Hardin, jr.; Miranda Brubaker, so.; Skylar Golyar, so.
Outlook: Athens will look to climb the Big Eight Conference standings with a roster that includes just one returning senior. Despite their youth, the Indians have several athletes capable of competing at the MHSAA State Finals.
“I am excited to be coaching this varsity girls’ track team,” said Hamilton. “This team is full of energy and has started the season with goals of competing at the regional and state levels. We are a young team with a good attitude and strong work ethic.”
Coach: Jeffrey Gallup (seventh season)
2014 record: 9-2; first in SJV
Top returners: Joselyne Cabrera, sr. throws; Oriana McBride, sr. distance; Jillian Pyles, so. sprints/middle distance; Carly Kyle, so. relays/middle distance; Maryselva Albarran, sr. sprints; Jenna Smoker, jr. high jump; Adriana Sanchez, jr. hurdles/relays; Brianna Uriostegui, jr. hurdles/distance
Outlook: Bronson joins the newly-formed Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph (B-C-S) Conference following a league championship in their final season in the St. Joe Valley. The Vikings might not have the same depth as last season, but they do have several key athletes back in the fold including a state qualifier in senior Maryselva Albarran.
“Our numbers are up this season,” said Gallup. “We have a very young and inexperienced team, however there are some very strong leaders in the upper classes and we anticipate great improvement as the year progresses.”
Coach: Nick Frisbie (second season); David Lodes (seventh season)
2014 record: n/a
Top returners: Alexa Rivera, jr. throws; Taylor Macomber, jr. distance; Sydney Macomber, jr.; Madison Nabozny, jr. hurdles
Outlook: After finishing in the middle of the SCAA last season, the Panthers hope to make strides and improve in the overall standings. They’ll do that with some solid returners, including multi-sport athletes in juniors Taylor Macomber and Sydney Macomber.
“The team is better balanced this year and they have a shot at winning the division in the SCAA this year,” said Lodes.
Coach: Adam Supianoski (ninth season)
2014 record: 2-5
Top returners: Ashley Chase, sr. sprints; Megan Lippert, so. sprints/long jump; Hannah Parrish, so. throws; Jordan Bouse, so. throws
Outlook: After struggling in the SMAC East Conference last year, the Cardinals will see some new competition as they move to the newly-formed Interstate Eight Conference. The team will be led by senior Ashley Chase, who ran the 100 at the state meet last season.
“Despite low numbers we are a young team that has potential,” Supianoski said. “The team’s strength will be in sprints and throws.”
Coach: Karmin Bourdo (fourth season)
2014 record: n/a
Top returners: Faith Ferris; Alicia Lindsey; Samantha Cleary; Katelynn Davis; Sarah Bassett; Ashley Trantham
Outlook: The Panthers make their final run in the KVA Conference, which will disband following this season. Delton Kellogg hopes to go out in style while seeing several athletes qualify for the state meet.
“I am looking forward to a year of building and growing as a team,” Bourdo said. “One of our team strengths this year will be our distance competitors and our overall versatility in athlete placement events… We also have several devoted athletes with good work ethics and are highly motivated to achieve at a high level.”
Coach: Molly Schab (first season)
2014 record: Sixth in KVA
Top returners: Whitney French, sr. distance; Bethy Washburn, sr. hurdles; Sierra Nantz, jr. high jump/relays; Savanna Waite, so. sprints/long jump; Madison Harlow, so. high jump/long jump/hurdles/sprints; Alyssa Gibson, so. throws; Taylor Davis, so. throws; Ana Booth, so. pole vault/hurdles
Outlook: As one of the few holdovers from the KVA, which will disband following this season, the Rams will look to end their long run in the conference with a strong finish. The team brings back three all-league performers in Sierra Nantz, Savannna Waite and Madison Harlow.
“This year’s group, while small, is talented,” Schab said. “The 2014 KVA champion 400-meter relay team is again expected to be strong, returning three of four members. Madison Harlow and Savanna Waite both had stellar freshman seasons, and can only continue to improve during their sophomore year. This team is comprised of mainly returners, but also a few fresh faces provide depth and added talent.”
Coach: Mike Hause (first season)
2014 record: n/a
Top returners: Grace Turner, hurdles; Lily Fell, distance; Paige O’Connor, distance; Claire Halpin, distance; Emma Way, throws, Taylor Ter’Avest, throws; Kadie Alpers, middle distance, Helen Foldenauer, middle distance, Jessica Wakley, middle distance
Outlook: Gull Lake is traditionally strong in cross country, and the Blue Devils’ track and field team will benefit yet again from an abundance of quality distance runners. In addition, more depth this season should make Gull Lake formidable in the SMAC.
“The girls have a young team with 12 freshmen that will push our upperclassmen and hopefully score some points for us,” said boys’ coach Randy Hunt. “I feel that we will start quietly picking up more places in the individual events and 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: Greg Reagle (first season)
2014 record: Sixth in Big Eight
Top returners: Jessica Reagle, sr. middle distance/distance; Alex Elliott, sr. hurdles/pole vault; Alyssa Boyd, sr. high jump/long jump; Alivia Rivera, sr. throws
Outlook: Four Trojans return with state finals experience, and the addition of a solid freshmen class should help Homer fill out other areas and help the team make a jump in the Big Eight Conference standings.
“Our strong events will be in throws, middle distance and hurdles,” Reagle said. “Our weakest area from last year was in sprints. Our incoming freshmen should help us improve in sprints and relays.
Coach: Steve Wissink (16th season)
2014 record: 6-3
Top returners: Morgan Armstrong, sprints; Shatara Washington, sprints; Zoey Zacharski, middle distance; Hannah Koch, distance; Caitlyn Quinn, hurdles; Alivia Shumaker, throws; Cassandra Barlow, middle distance; Aundrea Meeks, throws; Kaitlyn Turner, hurdles
Outlook: The Redhawks will try to build off a stellar finish in the SMAC East as they join the newly-formed Interstate Eight Conference. An equal mix of veterans and newcomers, Marshall hopes it can contend in the new league and qualify as many athletes for the state meet as possible.
“We have 40 girls out, although half of them are new to the team,” Wissink said. “They’ve been working really hard, and we’ve done well in our first two meets. Unfortunately, we’re missing several of our top girls from last year for various reasons, but the girls we have are a pleasure to coach and we have several girls with state meet potential. We look forward to participating in the Interstate Eight with schools our own size.”
Coach: Brian Lincoln (first season)
2014 record: 7-0, first in KVA
Top returners: Aleena Janousek, sr. high jump/relays; Noelle Rohde, so. long jump/sprints; Logan Kyre, so. hurdles/relays; Teona Feldpausch, so. middle distance; Morgan Greenman, so. middle distance; Whitney McGill, jr. middle distance/relays; Grace Mott, so. distance; Taylor Sinclair, so. sprints/pole vault; Mikayla Wickman, jr. high jump; Kelsie Wireman, jr. sprints; Alex Dartt, sr. middle distance
Outlook: Before leaving the KVA for the newly-formed Greater Lansing Athletic Conference, Olivet made sure to take a league championship with them. Now the Eagles will look to take the championship hardware away from their new league competition.
“They have been working hard to keep the momentum they created last year,” Lincoln said. “A lot of the athletes return from last season. We are pretty deep in the sprints and mid-distance events. If we can stay healthy and continue to improve each day we should be very competitive.”
Coach: Rob Evans (18th season)
2014 record: 6-3, fourth in Big Eight
Top returners: Kayla Hayes, jr. shot put; Claire Supianoski, so. sprints/middle distance; Gabby Porter, so. middle distance;
Outlook: The Orioles feature several standouts, but will need others to step up for Quincy to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish in a competitive Big Eight Conference.
“The team will have some very strong individuals that will be competitive at all meets,” Evans said. “In order for the team to be competitive, several other members will need to find ways to contribute.”
Tekonsha/Marshall Academy (co-op)
Coach: Tony Bowling (33rd season)
2014 record: 13th in SCAA
Top returners: Maggie Runyon, jr. throws; Maddy Swan, sr. sprints; Elayna Hoyt, jr. sprints
Outlook: Tekonsha/Marshall Academy struggled last season, and improving won’t be easy with only three experienced athletes on the roster. Still, some new athletes will bring a different dimension to the team and could help the Indians climb in the league standings.
“The team should be much more competitive in sprints, hurdles and sprint relays,” Bowling said. “Team goal is to finish higher in the final league standings and qualify some for the state finals.”
Coach: Steve Brown (13th season)
2014 record: 6-1, second in Big Eight
Top returners: Emma Hoppe, jr. sprints/long jump; Hannah Muckel, sr. sprints; Rachel Wing, so. throws; Cassie Thorpe, so. middle distance/sprints; April Inman, sr. pole vault/hurdles
Outlook: The Chargers are coming off a runner-up finish in the extremely competitive Big Eight Conference. A new-look roster means different girls will have opportunities to help the team out while also looking to qualify for the state meet as individuals.
“This team has been given a pretty drastic facelift from what we looked like last season,” Brown said. “Between the seniors that have graduated and the athletes choosing to focus on other things, and the ones who just decided not to come out this season, we have eight returning athletes. We have a lot of untapped potential and a good core of athletes who have been great leaders. We are hoping to compete in the top part of the conference again but to have several new athletes step up to fill in the places that have been left open. I am excited about what this year will bring for several athletes and I am very optimistic about how this season will go.”
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: Girls’ track
Sunday: Boys’ track