Here’s a look at the boys track teams from Buffalo Gap, Riverheads, Stuarts Draft and Wilson Memorial.
The Gladiators are uncharted territory this season. After years in Group 2A, they compete in Conference 44, Region 1A East and Group 1A in the postseason.
Senior Landon Diehl, who will anchor the sprints and jumps, was all-state in two events at the 2A meet, placing second in the 400 and fifth in the 200. Joining Diehl on a competitive 4×400-meter relay team are fellow seniors Brandon Heizer, Garrett Campbell and Hunter Allen.
Allen will also compete in the hurdle events. Heizer and Campbell were also part of the 4×800) relay team that qualified for the 2A meet.
“As usual, our goal would be to win a district and conference title and place in the top five at states,” said Riverheads head coach Allen Clifton.
Junior Tommy Hulse expects to pick up points in the hurdles, while senior Zach Hipes will lead the distance runners. Clifton is looking for sophomore Hunter Conner to do well in 200 and 400 meters, but could show up in several other events as well.
Junior Skyler Herron and sophomore Tyler Simmons give Riverheads two good throwers. Junior Jeffrey Maddox will compete in the jumping events and hurdles, while Nick Van Fossen, David Cassell and Jamison Kelly provide quality depth in the 800 and 1600 meters.
Sophomore Rhett Simpson has shown good prospects in the 3200. Freshman Jaden Phillips will do the jumps, sprints and hurdles, while sophomore Garrett Phifer provides another competitor in shot put and discus.
“We have lots of freshmen working hard and we also have good senior leadership,” Clifton said.
The Green Hornets lost a lot of points due to graduation, but long-time coach Steve Geiman still has a solid nucleus returning to be competitive this spring and should field a strong contingent of returning athletes and also some promising newcomers to the program.
The Hornets were undefeated in district action in 2015 and took third in the conference meet.
Returning team MVP Julian Edwards anchors the sprints after taking All-Region 2A East honors a year ago. Also returning is senior Austin Wood, who was an all-conference finisher in the 800 meters and on the 4×800-meter relay.
Another senior, Landon Boxley, returns to run the 800 meters and 800 relay. Sophomore Justin Stewart was also a member of that 800-meter relay team and was also all-conference in the 1,600 meters. He will try his hand for the first time in the pole vault.
Sophomore Jeremiah Saunders and junior Jacob Schrauder anchor the distance runners and senior Ty McReynolds leads the Wilson throwers in shot and discus.
Joining the team for the first time is junior Nolan Vest, who will compete in the hurdles and high and long jumps. Freshman Michael Holmes will sprint and pole vault. Vinny Leo, a distance runner in the 3200 meters showed great form indoors, earning All-State honors in the event.
Senior Zac Denton joins the team in the sprints and will be joined there by junior Joey Thompson. Sophomore Patrick Cash will join the hurdlers and freshman Taylor Evans will compete in the throwing events and the sprints.
“We haven’t set team goals yet, but we did pretty well in our first meet and the new kids had a good experience,” Geiman said. “We have a good work ethic and we have good numbers. We have senior experience and some talented freshmen and sophomores. It is a great group to work with.”
Buffalo Gap has a solid and veteran crew of returning athletes.
Seniors Aaron Huff, Logan Miller, Austin Comer, Sam Thompson and Kyle Peters are sprint and middle distance runners, while Zack Thompson, Chip Dovel and Chase Cline will handle a number of different events.
The Gap boys finished second in the Shenandoah District a year ago and are coming off a big indoor season, head coach Leon Cash said.
The Bison also had a win earlier this season over Page County and Luray.
The Bison also have a solid group of underclassmen. Carter Mohler, Dylan Thompson, Camron Ray, Joe Martin, Joe Shelton and Josh Reed will compete in the running and jumping events, Charles Weatherman, Toby Sprouse, Wes Tinsley and Matt Layman will handle the shot put and discus and Andrew Weatherman will do the sprints and middle distance.
“We have to progress to be competitive at season’s end,” Cash said. “We have tough kids who try hard and get things done.”
Another plus for the Bison is the input of former coaches Jeff Keyser, John Sayers and Ryan Shelton, whom Cash calls “a wonderful resource.”
Head track coach James Carter has some talent back from last year’s team that competed in Group 3A, but is back down in 2A this year.
“This is a great group that is working very hard toward their team and individual goals,” Carter said. “Our goal is to build a team on our individual successes.”
Dylan Lehmann and Jonathan Snell were state qualifiers in the high jump and discus, respectively, and both are back.
Snell and John Gumann will anchor the throwing events, while freshman Colby Phillips has shown rapid improvement in long jump and triple jump. Phillips turned in a strong performance at Waynesboro on Wednesday, winning the triple jump and placing second in the 400 meters.
Snell placed third in the shot put at both the Ram Invitational and at Waynesboro and was fourth in the discus at the Ram event last Saturday.
Another freshman, Jess McCauley, placed third at Waynesboro in the long jump with a leap of 18 feet.
Meanwhile, Lehmann won the high jump and placed third in the 100 and 200 meters at Waynesboro.
Lehmann, Izzy Johnson, Tucker Rost and Phillips comprise the sprinting core along as well as the 400-meter relay team.
Phillips, Rost and Brandon Johnson will man the middle distance events for the Cougars.