Joining the fray in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference this spring is the Withrow High School boys track team. Like their girls team, they won every league title in the existence of the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference.
The Tigers are coached by Brock Rutledge and return starters Kymari Gates, Aaron Shannon and Elijah Miller. Gates was Co-Athlete of the Year in the CMAC and Rutledge took Coach of the Year honors.
Gates runs the 100, 200 and the 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 relays. Joining him in those same events is Rayshawn O’Neal, while Aaron Shannon is also part of the relays as well as the open 200 and 400 meter events. Devonte Martin is another talented Tiger the Withrow coach has at his disposal.
“We are a team and work together as one,” Rutledge said.
Withrow will be in the Middletown Showdown April 2. The Tigers will be pointing ahead to the ECC Championship meet at Anderson May 13-15.
The Walnut Hills boys are coached by Bill Valenzano and will look to fill some holes in throwing events since shot put and discus expert Ellery Lassiter has graduated.
Senior Darien Jackson, junior Jon Mason and sophomore Dyami Davis-Spence return from their first team ECC 4×200 relay, with senior Myles Harper returning from the second team 4×400 relay. Jackson also took honorable mention in the 100 meters for the Eagles and will be handling the 100 and 200 again this spring.
Davis-Spence will be a factor in the 200 and 400 meters, along with senior Terrance Sims. Senior Max Weiskittel leads the 1,600 and 3,200 meter pack and sophomore Michael Davenport moves from jumping toward the basketball rim to over the bar with a fiberglass pole.
“Our sprint and distance crew returns many seniors to lead the team,” Valenzano said of his squad. “We also have a strong pole vaulter in Michael Davenport.”
Davenport was third in the ECC last season at 12’ 6”.
The biggest hurdle at Walnut Hills is not always on the track. The athletes on both the boys and girls’ teams have to balance their track and field time with taking multiple Advanced Placement courses.
Walnut Hills is in the Middletown Showdown April 2, followed by the Coaches Classic meet at Winton Woods April 8-10.
The Purcell Marian boys track team finished sixth in the Greater Catholic League Coed Division last season under coach Fallon Lane.
Top returners for the Cavaliers include long jumper Jair Knox and distance runner Chase Berger.
Knox made the state meet in Columbus as a junior along with graduated distance runner Lamuel Bean last June.
“We have a small team of hard workers,” Lane said. “These athletes want to succeed and they’re working hard to do so.”
After the Coaches Classic meet March 31-April 1 at McNicholas, the Cavaliers will participate in the Miamisburg Invite on April 17.
Mariemont, which has never won a Cincinnati Hills League title, is looking for improvement after last year’s sixth-place finish in the conference meet.
“Our numbers are growing and that gives us an opportunity to fill more athletes into the events,” head coach Jeff Timmers said. “We will be heavy again on sprinters this year and hope to place higher than last year.”
Top returners for the Warriors include juniors Charlie Jordan and Jeffrey Timmers. Jordan runs sprints and the 800 meter run while Timmers is a hurdler.
Sophomore Ryan Fields, the twin brother of Carson, runs sprints.
Clark Montessori returns a few veterans to the track this spring highlighted by former state meet participant and senior Ian Turner.
Along with the Cougar speedster, third-year coach Nia Baucke is looking for big things from senior Craig Kaiser and freshman Ryan Brewster on the boys team.
Turner was Miami Valley Conference first team in the 100 meters and runs several events.
“This year, the majority of our top MVC runners will be returning,” Baucke said. “We have also gained a solid group of talented freshmen that will prove to be competitive and be a great addition to our individual events and relays. Along with our great group of sprinters, it’s exciting to know that our distance team has doubled in size and will help us add more points this season.”
The Coaches Classic meet is March 31-April 1. The Cougars will eventually point toward the MVC championships at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy May 12-14.
Much like its female counterpart, the Seven Hills boys track and field team is on the small side. However, head coach Tana Luckie wouldn’t rule out the potential for some good individual performances.
“We aren’t looking to win the Miami Valley Conference this season, but that’s not to say we couldn’t have some good performances and finish in third place or something like that,” she said.
The Stingers return Adam Buford and Maliq Lee, both of whom were part of the regional qualifying 4×200 relay team. They add senior Josh Weaver, who didn’t run as a junior last season.
Luckie expects him to contribute in the 4×200 and 4×100 relays.
Sophomore Chase Gardner will run the middle distances and freshmen Alex Smith and Matthew Maring will run sprints and distance, respectively.
Speaking of distance, Summit Country Day returns six of its seven distance runners who were state runner-ups during the cross country season.
Mason Moore and John Murdock will lead the way for the Silver Knights. In addition to that potent one-two punch is Grady Stuckman and Tullus Dean, who also turned in good times during the indoor track season.
“Our distance team is stacked,” head coach Kim Horning said.
Back for year two with the Moeller track team is coach Jason Crockett as the Crusaders try to improve their finish in the Greater Catholic League South.
Moeller is expected to be led by senior distance runners Mitch Poch and Nick Mendel, junior sprinter Isaac Andrews, sophomore sprinter Cam Buford and freshman sprinter Colin Thurman.
“They are excited to compete and motivated to work hard,” Crockett said of his team.
Andrews was part of Moeller’s first team GCL-South 4×200 relay and the second team 4×100 relay. Poch and Mendel were on the second team 4×800 relay with senior Eddy Pappalardo and junior Matt DeWine.
The Crusaders participate in the Middletown Showdown April 2 at Middletown High School.
ATHLETES TO WATCH
Withrow sprinter Kymari Gates: Versatile speedster who was Co-Athlete of the Year in the CMAC, now running in the ECC.
Walnut Hills senior Darien Jackson: All-league sprinter in the 4×100 relay and open 100.
Purcell Marian senior Jair Knox: State meet participant in the long jump for the Cavaliers.
Clark Montessori senior Ian Turner: Made the state meet as a sophomore. Versatile threat.
Moeller senior Mitch Poch: Reliable distance runner for the Crusaders.
Summit Country Day’s distance team: Six of the seven return from this season’s state runner-up in cross country.
Seven Hills’ 4×200 relay: Two of the four legs return from last year’s regional qualifying team.