Piqua girls track and field coach Erika Butler feels good about the Lady Indians heading into her second season as coach for good reason.
Regional qualifiers returning include sophomore Bree Cheatam (300 hurdles, 1,600 relay), senior Danajha Clemons (1,600 relay) and junior Hannah Went (1,600 relay).
Also returning are seniors Teija Davis, Courtney Bensman, Kaili Ingle and Madison Evans; and sophomores Liz Duer, Kirsten Davis and Tadra Clemons
“We have some solid returning athletes this year as well as new faces.” Butler said. “The girls are looking forward to building off of the groundwork that they set last year. “We have recently selected team captains (Courtney Bensman, Danajha Clemons, and Madison Evans) and have set team goals to focus on continuous improvement every day in practice and from week to week in meets.”
Butler said there is a different approach this season.
“I think the girls understand what it is going to take to have a chance to compete this year,” she said. “It definitely will not be an easy road but the one thing I have always said about this girls’ team is that they are tough and determined.
“They have been working hard at practice and in the weight room thus far and we are looking forward to getting our first chance to compete this weekend at Tipp Relays.”
Tab LaFollette returns as Lady Railroader coach.
Graduating off last year’s team was Chelsea Dross, the school record holder in the 3,200.
The returners are led by three-time state qualifier Shay LaFollette.
LaFollette is a hurdler, jumper and sprinter, who holds the school record 100 hurdles, 100 dash, high jump, long jump, shot put, 1,600 relay, season points and career points.
Also returning are senior Molli Lavey (distance), junior Gabby Fair (distance) and Bailey Brewer (distance) and sophomore McKenzie Weldy (jumper).
Brewer is the school record holder in both the 800 and 1,600.
“We have a small but experienced team,” LaFollette said. “It will be easier for us to do well in invitationals than in a dual meet. I believe that we have several girls that will score a lot of points for us.
“Our jumps will be very strong and we have some very talented distance runners. We would like to get a few of our runners to regionals and it would nice to see Shay make it to state in two or three events and hopefully get on the podium this year.”
LaFollette likes the Roaders tough schedule.
“The Southwest Region is so tough in nearly ever event,” he said. “We have no off meets, we have no teams that we can overlook.
“Everyone that we run has state caliber athletes, so the competition stays difficult all season long and then really gets jacked up at district and regional time.
Last season the Covington girls track team had a highly successful season with just 13 kids on the roster and with numbers increasing to 22 kids this season, the expectations are even higher in 2014.
And leading the way will be senior Jackie Siefring, who placed third at state in the 300 meter hurdles and is fresh off an indoor state championship in the long jump. She also returns strong after suffering a torn ACL last June that forced her to forgo her senior season in basketball.
“Jackie works hard at what she does,” said Covington coach Dave Tobias. “She does a lot of off-season training on her own and has high expectations for herself.”
Siefring looks to improve on the five school records she broke a year ago in the 100 meter dash (12.90), the 200 meter dash (26.29), the 100 meter hurdles (15.22), the 300 meter hurdles (44.72) and the long jump (17’3.00”). She also looks to break more records in 2014.
“Jackie’s working to be a Pentathlete or a Heptathlete in college, so she’ll throw some shot and discus and compete in some high jump this year,” continued Tobias of Siefring. “She’s going to get us a lot of points this year.”
Also returning after placing at state a year ago is sophomore distance runner Carly Shell, who placed 6th at state in the 3200 and owns the school record in that event with a time of 11.25.50. Shell is also fresh off placing 24th at state in Cross Country.
“Carly will be running primarily the 3200, the mile and the 4x800,” Tobias said. “We’ll also throw her into some shorter relay events to give her some speed work.”
Senior Hannah Retz also returns after anchoring the 4x800 relay team that won a league championship a year ago, along with teammates Juliann Yingst and Carly Shell. The lone runner who doesn’t return from the 4x800 relay team is Tara Snipes, but that spot will be adequately filled by newcomers Heidi Cron, Cassidy Cain or freshman Anna Dunn.
“We’ll have a strong 4x800 relay team,” Tobias said. “Hannah (Retz) will need to overcome some leg issues and we’ll have to find someone to pick up the slack from losing (Tara) Snipes, but we have some strong runners who we think will step right in.”
Yingst and Retz will also help in mid-distance and distance events.
“Julianna had a strong freshman year last season and she ran well in cross country,” said Tobias. “Anna Dunn placed high at state in cross country and she’s only a freshman, so she’ll only get better. She’s been doing well in some 5k’s.”
Sophomore Maria Mohler returns to lead Covington in the pole vault as well as the throwing events, along with junior Megan Lange.
“Maria is our junior high record holder in the pole vault and Megan continues to improve in the throwing events,” praised Tobias. “We’re hoping for some big things from both of them this year.”
Junior Sadie Canan returns to help in some relays events and sprint events for Covington.
“Sadie is the kind of athlete we can put in a lot of different events due to her speed,” Tobias said. “She’ll run the 100, 200, some sprint relays and the long jump.”
Due to the overall talent and increased numbers to the roster, Tobias believes his team is capable of challenging once again for a Cross County Conference championship after finishing runner-up last year to Miami East.
“I’d think we’d be right there,” he said. “We have a lot of really good kids back from last year and a very strong freshman class who will help us score points.”
The key for Covington will be staying healthy and how well the young kids help fill spots left by the seniors who have graduated.
“That’s going to be the key,” agreed Tobias. “We have to avoid injuries and work with our younger kids to fill some spots. If we can do those things we should have a very good year.”
Jacob Benanzer takes over the Houston girls track team and has four letter-winners returning in seniors Heidi Cox, Koyode Momon and Kayla Kemp, and sophomore Brayden Murray.
“We are low in numbers, but we make up for it with our athletes,” said Benanzer. “I’m looking forward to coaching these girls to success.”
He said the top newcomers are sophomore Jenna Mounts and three freshmen in Ashtyn York, Jenna Green and Ally Voisard.
Lehman coach Dwane Rowley doesn’t have a lot of numbers
“Not a big turnout, but still look to learn, compete and get better,” Rowley said.
There are four girls returning, and all are sophomores in Olivia Gorman, Caroline Heitmeyer, Olnia Leece and Kassie Lee. He’s also looking for a contribution from newcomer Tessa Brown.
Heitmeyer qualified for the State Cross Country Meet last fall, finishing 16th in Division III, and she brings her distance talents to the track this spring.
Bruce Vanover again has high expectations for the Lady Vikings.
As always, the Vikings will be strong in the sprints. Leading the way for the Vikings in sprinting will be varsity returners, Lindsey Roeth, Kelly Rindler, Renee Deford, and newcomer Lindsey Black. There will be a lot of competition in the hurdles this year with returners Haleigh Smith, Marley Roberts, and Emma Monnin. Jillian Wesco is a freshman sprinter that could have a solid year on the track team, but only time will tell.
“This group of veterans has the experience and talent to make a deep run once again this year,” Vanover said. “Together, this group of sprinters should be able to find a combination that will allow them to continue their success, and hopefully return to the finals of the regionals again this year. “
Returning to lead the Viking’s distance crew will be Abigail Amheiser, Abby Hawkins, and Sami Sands. Joining this group of distance runners will be freshman Marie Ewing and Lorenza Savini.
“This group of young ladies had a very successful cross country season, and we are looking forward to them continuing that success on the track,” Vanover said. “In fact, Marie Ewing made it to the state in cross country. Together this group of runners is hoping to improve on the success that they had during the regular season last year, and take that success deeper into the district, regional, and maybe even the state meet this year.”
In the field events, our team will be led by returning throwers, Ashley Current, Megan Kinnison, and Karson Mahaney.
“All three of these girls really started to improve toward the end of the season last year, and they are hoping to continue that success into this track season,” Vanover said. “These ladies will be joined by Senior Trina Current, who is participating in track for the first time, and freshman Emma Linn. There will be a lot of competition in both the shot and discus this year. These girls are loaded with talent, and should be able to continue the success that the they have experienced of the course of the past four years.
“Megan Martin will lead the team in the high jump, and will be looking to improve on her jumps from last year. We are hoping to develop another high jumper as the season move forward, but who that will be, is yet to be determined. Jillian Wesco will lead the team in the long jump, and the pole vaulting duties will be handled by freshman Morgan Rose.”
Overall, Vanover expects to have another strong season.
“We have a mix of veterans and young athletes, but it is still their goal to be in the hunt for a league title, and with hard work, it is possible that they could be looking to win their fifth consecutive league title this year,” Vanover said. “There are 25 girls on the roster this year, as we were hit hard by graduation last year. So, with only five seniors this year, and an abundance of youth, we are hoping to pull together and do extremely well. These girls understand what it takes to be successful, and they are looking to build on the success that they have experienced of the last four years.”
Russia has three girls back who ran in the state meet last season in the 3,200 relay and another who qualified in an individual event.
They include juniors Emily Borchers and Claire Sherman and sophomore Lauren Heaton. Borchers also ran in the 1600 and placed eighth at state, and Heaton was regional champion and seventh in the state in the 400 meters.
Leah Francis , also a junior, qualified for state and had Russia’s best finish, a fourth in the 100 meter hurdles. She also returns.
Also back are seniors Rachel Pinchot and Kirsten Voisard, juniors Hannah Bornhorst and Hannah Poling, and sophomores Karissa Voisard and Molly Kearns.
Also expected to contribute are senior Emilie Frazier, junior Jayme Baugher, sophomores Erin Gaerke and Amanda Frazier, and three freshmen newcomers in Shae Goubeaux, Christina Gaerke and Grace York.
That’s a lot of talent returning from a team that won both the County Meet and the Division III Regional championship.
“Staying injury-free is the key to a successful season,” said coach Brad Heaton. “If the girls work hard and believe in their abilities, we should have a successful season again.”
Mike Goubeaux’s squad will look to defend its D-III state title.
Three of the four amazing “Winners” return off the winning 1,600-meter relay team.
While Meagan Winner graduated, senior Amanda Winner, junior Taylor Winner and sophomore Haley Winner are all back.
The 400 relay team that won state lost seniors Megan Hemmelgarn and Gwen Keihl, but return senior Lauren Bohman and sophomore Haley Winner.
The 800 relay team that finished second at state last spring lost Keihl to graduation, but returns seniors Bohman and Amanda Winner and sophomore Haley Winner.
Amanda Winner was also a state qualifier in the high jump last spring.