By David Fong
CASSTOWN — A familiar face will be taking over the Miami East girls track and field team this season.
Preston Elifritz — a Miami East graduate and former girls basketball coach — will be leading the Vikings this season.
He won’t be the only new face on the team this year, however.
“With nearly half of our roster as freshman, our upperclassmen leadership will be vital as to how quickly we come together as a team,” Elifritz said. “We have definite potential to compete weekly, but our work ethic and character will guide the way.”
Senior state qualifier and school record holder Megan Kinnison returns in the discus, while senior Karson Mahaney and junior Emma Linn are back in the shot put and discus.
The sprinters include juniors Morgan Rose and Jillian Wesco; sophomores Bailey Miller and Macy Fellers; and several freshman who have shown potential.
The hurdlers include Rose (300 hurdles), sophomores Kaitlyn Mack (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles) and Abby Horne (100 hurdles, open 400) and, again, a number of freshmen.
The Lady Vikings returns three runners off their record setting 3,200 relay team and the distance runners will include senior Sami Sands (800, 1,600, 3.200); juniors Marie Ewing (400, 800) and Lorenza Savini (800, 1,600, 3,200) and sophomore Lindsey Yingst (400, 800, 1,600).
TIPP CITY — In their final year competing in the Central Buckeye Conference before joining the Greater Western Ohio Conference, the Red Devils are hoping to go out on top.
“The team will be striving to win the CBC Kenton Trail Division and overall title this season,” said 26-year head coach Bob Crawford. “If we can stay healthy and have contributions from our younger athletes, this team could develop into one of our strongest in several years.”
In the sprints, Tippecanoe will be led by Taylor Prall, Sammie Rowland and Tori Livesay.
“All three of those ladies are looking to have very good years,” Crawford said. “We also have any number of freshmen who could make huge impacts, but are yet untested at the high school level.”
In the distance events, Makenzie Dietz and Abbi Halsey are expected to shoulder most of the load.
“The distance group worked hard over the winter and are ready to make a name for themselves on the track,” Crawford said.
In the field events, Carissa Ferrell returns in the discus, while Rowland also will compete in the long jump.
“Both experienced success last year and will continue to build on that success,” Crawford said.
WEST MILTON — Sophomore Beyonce Bobbitt, a state qualifier in the shot put last year, returns to lead a young Milton-Union team this season.
“We have a good core of girls coming back,” Milton coach Mike Meredith said. “We are young, so this year we can concentrate on building a well-rounded team.”
Also back for the Bulldogs in the field events are Sara Mote (pole vault) and Liz Renner (high jump).
Milton’s sprinters will be Bobbitt, Kira Rohr, Abby Goudy and Lydia Black.
The distance runners for the Bulldogs will be Katie Littlejohn, Lauren Meredith and Kiley Jacobe.
COVINGTON — Veteran coach David Tobias returns to lead the Buccs.
Graduating off last year’s team that finished third in the CCC were state qualifier Heidi Cron (400 relay) and discus thrower Megan Lange.
Back are three-fourths of the 400 relay team that qualified for state in sophomore sprinters Breanna Kimmel, Tori Lyle and Shae Robinson.
Also back are past state qualifiers in senior distance runner Carly Shell and junior distance runner Anna Dunn.
Other returning letter winners include seniors Maria Mohler, Danielle Swabb and Julianna Yingst; juniors Kelsey McReynolds, Kailyn Pond and Natalie Snyder; and sophomores Danielle Alexander, Brittany Daniel, Kelsey Dysinger, and Rayna Horner (move-in from Franklin Monroe).
They will be joined by 12 freshman.
“Our team goals are to be competitive at every meet and finish well at our Invitational, finish first in the CCC, and have some district and regional champions and qualify girls to the state meet again this year,” Tobias said.
The sprinters will include Horner, Breanna Kimmel, Pond, Robinson, Snyder, Jordan Crowell, Lindsey Kimmel and Danielle Rose.
Middle-distance runner include Lyle, Kelsey Dysinger, Yingst, Courtney Barhorst, Ashlyn Plessinger and Sarah Remley; while handling the distance events will be Shell, Dunn, Alexander and Paige Boehringer,
Handling throws will be Mohler, McReynolds, Mariah Dysinger, Daniel, Lauren Hebert and Swabb.
The pole vaulters will be Mohler and Kelsey Dysinger.
Doing the high jump will be Snyder, Lillian Hamilton and Leah Poling; while the long jumpers will include Horner, Breanna Kimmel, Barhorst, Poling, Olivia VomBaur and Anna Winn.
TROY — The Eagles took a hit before the season event started when three-time state placer Meredith Haddad (long jump) was injured in the offseason. She likely will miss the season for Troy Christian.
The Eagles top sprinters this year are expected to be Lora Current and Jalyn Forrer.
Emily Sloan will compete in the shot put and discus, while Sophie Pitsenbarger will compete in the high jump.
The Eagles are coached by Jeff McDaniel.
PLEASANT HILL — Nick Rhoades returns for his eighth season as coach.
Aliya Stine will lead the sprinters/hurdlers and be joined by Anna Miller and Maddie Hildebrand.
Regional qualifier in cross country Macy Flannary will run distance, while Kassidi Alexander will run mid-distance and Zara Zeller returns in the discus after placing in the CCC meet last year.
“The girls team should have a nice team year,” Rhoades said. “There are question marks with a lot new runners/freshman on the team. The potential is there if we have a good March.”
BRADFORD — The Railroaders will be looking to make strides this season under second-year coach Brian Schwieterman.
In the field events, Bradford returns a pair of school record holders in Kenzie Weldy (shot put) and Kelly Moore (pole vault). Weldy also will long jump alongside Adria Roberts. Maia Stump returns in the long jump.
Weldy, Moore and Stump also will compete in the springs, along with Destiny Otte and Brooke Faire.
“Our goals include building our numbers and having every athlete improving their personal bests every meet,” Schwieterman said. “Overall it would be nice to see several Bradford athletes competing at the regional meet this year, and possibly beyond.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong