In area girls track, Hagerstown’s Tigers have been a top contending team for many years.
As the spring 2015 season gets under way, a host of Tri-Eastern Conference foes will seek to challenge Hagerstown for team honors, while Randolph Southern seeks the same title in the Mid-Eastern Conference and Seton Catholic brings a young, talented team seeking to earn success during the regular season, then to be a factor in postseason competition in late May.
Coach Karen Matanich returns with a roster of 22 girls for Hagerstown high school girls track, with five returning seniors, and a roster dominated by 13 juniors and sophomores as the Tigers look to add to a string of successful spring track campaigns.
Hagerstown graduated track standouts Hayley Rogers and Lindy Smith, but have a bevy of strong athletes back to build on a strong start to the season already.
The Lady Tigers had a strong performance at the state indoor meet, then won a season-opening meet at Brookville, Ohio, this past week.
Among the seniors are distance standout Amelia Dick, who combined with juniors Paige Gray and Cassidy Robinson, plus sophomore Hannah Rogers, to place in the distance medley relay at the recent state indoor meet.
In that same event, Tiger sophomore Aimee Hoodlebrink finished fifth in the long jump, and will be key to Hagerstown’s spring chances in the outdoor season.
Also faring well there was junior Rebecca Elza in the shot put.
“Senior Amelia Dick is working very hard, and I expect her to have some great performances this spring,” Matanich said. “Paige Gray has shown a lot of improvement, and all of the girls have worked hard, and all willing to run whatever races will help the team. I think we have athletes that will step up and replace the lost points due to the graduation of Hayley Rogers and Lindy Smith.”
Veteran coach Mike Day returns with a young team at Centerville, with his only seniors in Shelby Short and Macy Heaslip.
Short is one of five distance runners that Day thinks can pace the efforts of the Bulldogs. Joining the senior in distance races will be junior Ashley Toschlog, sophomores Abbi Dillman and Anna Hawk, plus freshman Kayla Newman.
“I think Hagerstown and Union County are the team favorites for the Tri-Eastern Conference, but I think we can do some nice things as a team,” Day said. “We have some young athletes and newcomers who I think can contribute.”
Day points to sophomore Sophia Neher in the sprints as a runner to watch for Centerville, as well as her classmate Emily Willis in the throws.
Zac Zurwell is coaching a squad of nine Lincoln athletes competing in track and field this spring, including just one senior.
But that senior is Kassidy West, the defending sectional champion in the 100 and 200 meters. She recently placed in the long jump at the state indoor track meet.
“I have high hopes that Kassidy can make regional in three individual events this year,” Zurwell said of his lone senior.
The coach also expects two freshmen to have an immediate impact.
“I think Ryanne Davis is going to be a factor in the high jump, and Olivia Fields will have success, I think, in the sprints,” he said.
Coach Mark Kerkhoff is working with a team of about 14 track athletes, a mix of returning girls plus a handful of new competitors, several cheerleaders out for the team for the first time, plus a transfer athlete.
Among the Knight returners are juniors Haley Coyle and Hannah Young, both distance runners, and sophomore Tatum Jordan, who is expected to compete in throwing events and relays.
Some of the Northeastern cheerleaders are junior Heaven Stegall in the jumping events, plus freshman Faith Stegall in throwing events and freshman Dana Newman in sprints.
“We have so many new faces. It will be picking the events for the team to do well in, finding what events are best for each of the individual girls. It will be exciting to see how the team develops, and what they can do,” Kerkhoff said.
Northeastern’s girls compete first in the Muncie Burris Invitational on Saturday, which will be staged at the college facility on the Ball State University campus.
New girls head coach Matt Snyder will be assisted by a group of coaches with an increased number of Patriot girls for the spring season.
Senior Trisha Spivey will be one of the key returning athletes, a standout high jumper who was third in the event at the recent state indoor meet.
Emily Ellinger, a senior, returns to the team after missing last spring because of injury, and junior Carrie Bantz returns for UC after not competing in track last year.
In distance races, there are a handful of good distance runners, led by sophomore Samantha Crowe, and freshman Alyssa West, among others.
The team first competes in a Tuesday triangular meet with Winchester at Lincoln.
Kerry McCoy is the new head varsity track coach at Winchester after spending six years with the program at other levels of coaching.
She has a group of 10 athletes to develop, five of whom are new to the high school team, but she is excited about the quality of the athletes she is working with.
“We have some good, quality athletes, so the key is going to be how to strategically place the girls to compete best individually, to maximize what they can accomplish,” McCoy said.
Three seniors compete for the Golden Falcons, led by distance ace Sophia Wickersham and Blakey Beckham, returning from an injury-plagued season. Wickersham will also run on relays, and could also compete in shot put and discus. Beckham is a middle distance runner and could be added to relay teams as well. Beth Redmond is a new senior to the team.
Juniors include Kiabeth Barrera in middle and long distance races, and a new athlete from the Winchester girls basketball program, Mariah Roberts, who is expected to run middle distance races, on relay teams, and compete in the high jump.
Golden Falcon sophomores are all also Winchester hoop players in Makenna Haney, new to track and field, Sierrah Love and Sarah Mallory. Haney is expected to compete in middle and long distance races, plus the high jump. Love is expected to be a hurdler, run on relays, and also may do the shot put and discus. Mallory, a sprinter, will likely run on the 1600 relay team, and be a long jumper.
Both freshmen are newcomers to track in Kelly Graft (middle and long distance, high jump) and Mackenzie Smith (distance races).
Coach Todd Barker is working with a team of 13 Cardinal girls, most of whom are freshmen.
The older Seton athletes are senior throwers Maggie Lahmann and Taylor Webster, then junior runners Ashley Miller and Julia Reichley,
“We scored 30 points as a team in the sectional last year, and our older girls are now joined by a freshman group that has had a lot of success in junior high and I think will make a big impact this year at the high school level,” Barker said.
Among the freshman group is Leann Brenneke, who is expected to run the 400 meters, and compete on relays; Sarah Dickman in sprints and the 400 relay, and distance runners Jenna Barker, the coach’s daughter, and Hanna Stamm. Other freshmen on the team include Alena Hornak in the discus and shot put, and Abbey Schmidt.
Seton also begins its spring season in the Muncie Burris Invitational Saturday at BSU.
A group of 18 athletes will represent the Rebels this year for returning coach Sean Kennedy.
Distance ace Tess Wise returns as one of two seniors for RS, which finished a close second to Muncie Burris in last spring’s MEC meet.
“I expect the girls team to be strong again, and compete for the Randolph County Championship,” Kennedy said by e-mail. “We hope to contend and seek the first MEC title in school history this year.”
Natalie Wissel is the other senior and will run middle distance races.
Four juniors will compete: Kearstin Allen (sprints), Alexis Hurda (middle distance), Ellie Miller (sprints) and Morgan Retter (throws).
Then there are large groups of six sophomores and six freshmen.
Leading scorers from those classes are sophs Kennedy Kramer (hurdles, sprints), Sam Wissel (sprints), Elizabeth Deckard (middle distance) and Cameron Whitesel (jumping events), plus freshmen Makenzie Phenis (distance), Zoe Fisher (distance) and Hope Brown (throws).