By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — Two seasons in a row, the Troy Trojans have won the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division championship.
Naturally, that isn’t enough.
“Our goal is to win the GWOC North for a third straight year,” Troy boys track and field coach Deon Metz said. “We’ve had two solid groups of seniors that helped us win the past two seasons, and this year we have another solid group of seniors looking to do the same.”
To do so, though, the Trojans know they will have to get past a talented Trotwood team.
“You can never count Trotwood out. You look at the run their football and basketball teams went on, and you know those kids are coming out for track. At Trotwood, you play three sports,” Metz said. “They’re going to have great sprinters, but the key to beating them is to be well-rounded and pick up points everywhere you can.”
And that’s definitely something the Trojans are poised to do, beginning with its strength in the field events.
Back for his senior season is Nathan Fleischer, the school record-holder in the pole vault who placed third at the Division I state meet last season.
“A 15-foot vaulter, third in the state last year, qualified for the state indoor meet in the winter,” Metz said. “He’s had some back problems and has been a little stiff, but he’s in the best shape he’s ever been in now, and his goal is to make it back to state.”
Troy also returns both of its throwers in seniors Alex Dalton and Seth Overla, as well as senior high- and long-jumper Miles Hibbler.
“Alex and Seth have been a consistent part of the program for what seems like forever,” Metz said. “It’s a good start having those two to get us points in the throws. Both are going on to play football in college, and Alex is a regional qualifier. I look for them to have their best seasons yet.
“Miles’ biggest thing is consistency. He won the North in the high jump last year, which was kind of a surprise, but didn’t do as well in the long jump as we expected. Getting that consistency will be the big thing for him.”
Hibbler is also returning after two trips to the state meet as a member of Troy’s sprint relay teams.
“He’s been to state two years in a row, and he’d like to make it back,” Metz said. “The other guys from those teams have all graduated. He’s alone now, but not totally alone. When you’ve got a top sprinter like Miles, you can put pieces around him.”
Roshaun Wesson is also back after a GWOC North title in the 400, and senior distance runners Branden Nosker — who qualified for state in cross country the past two seasons — and Blake Guillozet will lead a deep, deep distance crew that includes junior Troy Schultz and sophomore Stephen Jones, who also qualified for state during cross country in the fall.
“Roshaun won a conference title for us in the 400, probably surprised some people. We took him to state with us last year so he could see what it was like,” Metz said. “His goal this year is to get there.
“We’ve had a great group of distance runners for years now. Branden went to state in cross country, and Blake hasn’t always been a track guy but has gotten stronger and stronger. Stephen is just a stud and has a bright future ahead of him, and Troy has worked really hard to get healthy. I know he wants a solid junior season so he can build upon it next year.”
Josh Williams will also add some depth in the 4x400 relay and hurdles, and T.J. Michael will high jump and long jump. The Trojans also have a number of first-year seniors out this season in Matt Bahr, Taren Kinnel, Gabe Allen and Josh Dietrich.
Troy will need all of that if it wants to three-peat in a tough GWOC North Division.
“Aside from Trotwood, Butler is always solid in the distance races, Piqua came on strong last year and has some good sprinters, Sidney surprised us with a couple of good sprinters last year and Greenville has got some unbelievable talent,” Metz said. “The GWOC North is a tough division, and the GWOC overall is one of the toughest track conferences in the state.
“In a nutshell, it’s going to be another competitive season.”
After graduating state champion Sam Wharton amongst a group of other state-caliber athletes, the Tippecanoe Red Devils will still look to be competitive this season. Getting back to that state level, though, could prove to be a challenge.
“We should have a very competitive season with this group,” Tippecanoe coach Bob Crawford said. “But, as one of the smallest schools in Division I in the state … we’ll see.”
Jay Schairbaum will return to lead a still-packed group of distance runners, one that finished second as a team in the state in D-II during cross country season in the fall. Also back are Andy Droesch and Max McDonald in the field events, and Matt Kurns and Kyle Melling will lead a distance corps with wide-ranging talent.
The Milton-Union Bulldogs are aiming at a third straight Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division title this season — and they will be led by a talented group of distance runners and a state-qualifying shot putter.
“We have won back-to-back SWBL titles, and we’re looking for a three-peat,” Milton-Union coach Michael Meredith said.
Senior Wes Martin — who narrowly missed placing at state last season in the shot put — is back, and he has his sights set firmly on earning a spot on the podium in Columbus.
Zach Pricer, Skyler Deeter and Kyle Swartz all return to lead the way in the 4x800 and 4x400 relay races, and River Spicer will be the guy to beat in the 3,200. Ryan Nichols will run the hurdles this season, while Davontee Fugate will lead the sprinters.
The expectations are at an all-time high for the Covington boys track team as it returns a roster loaded with talent and have added a large freshman class that will help fill the void left by a senior class that helped bring home three state medals a year ago.
“Last year we wasn’t completely healthy and still won our league, our district and got third at regionals,” said Covington coach Kyle Moore. “The goal this year is to stay healthy, have all of our horses peaking at the right time. If everything falls right we think we have great shot of winning districts and regionals and having several kids do well at state.”
For Covington, it starts with the three-headed monster — Lane White, A.J. Ouellette and Dalton Bordelon — kids who have worked unbelievably hard over their high school athletic careers. After injuries cut their junior seasons short a year ago, White and Ouellette return stronger than ever.
White is fresh off an indoor state championship in the 400 meter dash in which he ran the 19th fastest time in the country with a 48.90, while Ouellette has added unbelievable strength — as evident by his 425 pound bench press — to go along with his 4.41 speed in the 40-yard dash.
Bordelon, the final one-third of the three-headed monster, is Mr. Everything due to the fact that he can be used in so many ways to gain team points. Also returning is junior Ben Miller, who will team with Bordelon in the hurdles and compete in some relay events as well.
The key to Covington’s success will be staying healthy and peaking at the right time.
“This year will be different because we won’t always have kids run three or four events at every meet,” Moore explained. “Our focus is to use the regular season to get prepared for the post season - to stay healthy and have our kids fresh for districts, regionals and state. This will also give us an opportunity to develop some of our younger kids, giving them a chance to compete as well.”
• Miami East
Steve Karnehm returns for this sixth season as coach. The veteran coach led Dayton Christian to three state team titles and has coached 12 individual state champions.
Returning letterwinners include seniors Austin Rush (pole vault), Colton Holicki (sprints), Josh Ewing (distance), Robbie Adams (throws) and Austin Garrison (throws); juniors Mack Rose (pole vault), Matt Amheiser (distance), Trey Harbour (hurdles), Nick Ochoa (sprints), Austin Kowalak (distance) and Michael Deeter (high jump); and sophomores Devyn Carson (sprints), Jacob Brown (distance) and Dan Everett (throws).
“We have a number of returning lettermen, but we are still young and inexperienced overall,” Karnehm said. “We certainly have some very talented athletes and we run a strong schedule. The young men have great attitudes and are willing to work hard.”
Karnehm expects to be near the top in the CCC.
“We should be in the top three in our conference,” he said. “Covington is a very strong team and should dominate our conference. They have some state champion caliber athletes and are really the outstanding area school in boys track. After Covington, I believe we will compete well with everyone.
• Troy Christian
Troy Christian cross country coach Jeff McDaniel will coach the track team for the first year this season — and he will do so with a very young team.
“The guys have a young and small team, with no juniors or seniors,” McDaniel said. “We will not be scoring high in meets, but we expect to take several individual titles.”
Two sophomores will lead the way in Zac Garver and Luke Dillahunt. Garver ran a 4:24 last year in the 1,600, and he placed 17th in the state during cross country season in the fall. Dillahunt will lead the sprinters as well as long jump, while freshman David Blake will throw the discus and shot put.
Tab LaFollette returns as Bradford boys track and field coach.
Graduating off last year’s team were Josh Hoelscher, school record holder in the pole vault and Brandon Wirrig, the school record holder in the steeplechase.
Returning letterwinners include sprinter Kevin Fout and hurdler/sprinter Rhyan Turner.
“We have a small team, but I really like the kids that we have out and they are working really hard,” LaFollette said. “We have a group of sprinters that should be able to score some points individually and in a couple sprint relays. I think we should also be able to pick up some hurdle and jump points as well as some weight points.”
Piqua boys track and field coach Scott Kaye looks for improvement from his squad this spring.
“A talented group returns and new members look to make an immediate contribution,” Kaye said. “Juniors Trent Yeomans and Tate Honeycutt return to lead the sprints and were both district finalists last season.”
Kaye also expects to be strong in the field events.
“Junior Brenden Fries, who was a consistent scorer at the start of the season in the shot (put) and discus, until his season ended early, returns. Move-in senior Ryan Neil was a district finalist in the long jump and is one of the team’s top sprinters.”
Kaye expects improvement in the distance events.
“Freshman, Andy Mayse is a talented distance specialist, who was a junior high state placer and looks to make a boost in the distance group,” Kaye said. “Sophomore move-in, Gavin Scott has shown he is a contender in the ssprint group.”
It should be an excellent spring in boys track for coach Dwane Rowley and the Lehman Cavaliers.
Rowley had 11 lettermen returning from last season, including six that competed in the Division III state meet in seniors Justin Stewart, Brad Montgomery, and Joe Fuller, and juniors Mitchell Slater, Teddy Jackson and Erik Jackson.
Stewart leads the way after qualifying in three events to the state meet last season, including the 100 and 400 dashes, and the 800 relay. He placed seventh in the 400. Montgomery qualified in both the shot and discus, Fuller in the 3200 and Slater and the two Jacksons in the 800 relay.
Also returning after lettering last year are seniors Quinn Monnin, Nick Elsner and Joe Simpson, and juniors Ben Montgomery and Grant Gleason.
“We’re looking for a good year on the basis of our experience and this being a talented group,” said Rowley. “We should have a good showing at invitationals and the postseason meets. We were district runner-up and third in the regional last year so we have high expectations.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 440-5251 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.