Lions have group with potential to reach states
Whiteley, NC bidding for back-to-back conference crowns for first time in school history
The list of items Glen Whiteley dislikes about track and field is short.
Near the top is the idea of being chased.
“It’s not a position we like,” said Whiteley, North Caroline High’s girls’ head coach, whose team enters the season as the defending Bayside Conference and Class 2A East Region champions. “I like chasing because when the target’s on your back, you know everybody is after you and everybody’s doing what they can to dethrone you.”
While everyone may be chasing the Bulldogs, Whiteley’s crew will do some chasing of its own this spring in a bid to win back-to-back Bayside titles for the first time in school history.
Senior Christine Sturm returns to defend her Bayside titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, but figures to get serious challenges from Easton’s Kathryn Gearhart and Kent Island’s Emma Tvelia. Sturm could also run the open 800 and the 3,200 relay, which Caroline won at Baysides and regionals last year.
Junior Lizzy Walston, who won the 400 and placed second in the long jump last year at Baysides, is also back and could run the 100 or 200, as well as relays.
Though defending conference 100-meter hurdles champ Jalynn Crawford has moved to Delaware, the Bulldogs have the potential for big points in both hurdle events. Taylor Knight, the defending 2A East champ in the 300 is back, and will be joined by Mia Phillips, Ayana Swain and freshman Emily Lewis.
“We’re almost as strong as last year,” Whiteley said. “I think we can double score in a few events, and maybe triple score, which is where we’ll gain some points.”
The Bulldogs have plenty of other sources to draw points from.
Freshman Kyra Schulties — whose older brother, Alex, won the 2A state title in the 800 four years ago — can run the 400, 800 and relay legs. Savannah Herbert can be plugged in between the 800 and 3,200 meters, as well as the 3,200 relay. Katie Saathoff and Jessica Hotsko pole vault, Kelsey Sloan returns in the high jump, while Kelsey Dusock and Allie Harmon are in the throws.
“It just depends on what everybody else has; who else has freshman surprises or transfers,” Whiteley said. “There’s a lot of quality teams with quality coaches. It’s track and field. It’s anybody’s.”
Here’s a look at the rest of this year’s local teams:
Kent Island While indoor star Katie Poole again moves to the lacrosse field, Tvelia’s arrival figures to give the Bucs another state qualifier. Tvelia was runner-up in the 1,600 (5:13.58) and third in the 800 (2:21.76) at last year’s 4A state championships in Alaska, where she ran for Eagle River in Anchorage. The junior was Bayside and 2A East runner-up in cross country this past fall and figures to be right at the front of the pack along with Gearhart and Sturm at Baysides and regionals.
“She’s going to be good,” head coach Justin Holland said of Tvelia, who can run anywhere between 400 and 3,200 meters. “Emma’s got some goals and has got some competition on the Eastern Shore.”
Mandy Fine, the Bucs’ No. 2 in cross country, will run the 1,600, 3,200 and a leg on the 4x800 relay, and high jump.
“It’s a lot like our indoor track team with the exception of (instead of) being heavy in the sprints, we’re now heavy in the distance; obviously Emma being the strongest that we have,” Holland said. “But we are definitely well-rounded.”
The combination of Fine and returning Bayside and region champion Delia Mack could mean big points in the high jump. After taking runner-up honors last year, Mackenzie Poust will contend for the pole vault titles at Baysides and regionals. The Bucs also have Claire Mack in the shot, discus and triple jump.
Queen Anne’s The Lions may not have enough to challenge North Caroline and Kent Island for conference and regional supremacy, but they have the potential to take a nice group to states. Three 2A East champions — juniors Keashia Johnson (100) and Meagan Lukehart (long jump), and sophomore Taylor Peck (800) — return. And all three could qualify in more than one event — Johnson in the 200 and 400, Lukehart in the high jump and triple jump, and Peck in the 1,600 meters.
Junior Emily Gates, region runner-up at 1,600 meters, is back and could contend for state berths in the 800 and 3,200. Freshman Sheqoya Moore qualified for states in the 55 meters indoors and could be a factor in the sprints and relays.
Despite the graduation of Bayside shot put and discus champion Takia Dozier, head coach Natasha Wright has two promising prospects that could make noise in the throws: freshman Aryelle Miles and sophomore Ariana Brown. That tandem figures to benefit from guidance offered by former Queen Anne’s standout turned assistant coach Donyae Miles.
Follow me on Twitter @Bill_Haufe. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org