Coaches encouraged by early season efforts
Buccaneers, Bulldogs, Vikings, Colonels could make title runs
There was reason for North Bayside coaches to leave the inaugural Cambridge-South Dorchester Classic Track and Field Invitational two weeks ago encouraged.
Kent Island High’s boys’ team finished one half point shy of Lake Forest (Del.) for the team title, but longtime head coach Justin Holland saw serious points coming from areas other than his stalwart middle and longdistance crew.
While North Caroline’s boys finished in a distant fifth-place tie, head coach Glen Whiteley was without JaMion Franklin, Christopher Hale and Rodney Thomas, who together could make a difference in any meet, including states.
Perhaps the giddiest coach of the bunch though, was Cambridge-SD’s Lois Narr, who watched her boys’ team finish third — more than 12 points ahead of defending Class 1A East Region champion Colonel Richardson — and the girls place sixth — just two points behind Snow Hill, which figures to be the Vikings’ chief rival again come regionals.
“I’m really excited,” Narr said. “The boys are strong, and they’re strong because we have some really great seniors.”
Three of those seniors, Matt Koletsky, Trevor Goodwin and Carson Taylor teamed with sophomore Connor McCroy to win the 3,200-meter relay at the Class 1A state indoor championships in February, giving the Vikings their first state indoor crown of any type in their first indoor season. Later that day, Koletsky became the school’s first individual state champion indoors when he won the 800.
The defending Bayside and 1A East champion in the 400 and 800, as well a member of the 3,200 relay, Koletsky should again be out in front for the Vikings, who were runners-up to Colonel by five points at regionals a year ago, and fourth at Baysides. Goodwin won the 1,600 at Baysides and the 3,200 at regionals a year ago, and figures to be a key cog in a title push, along with McCroy, Taylor, Ben Cornwell (hurdles) and new arrival Jacob Newcomer (hurdles).
Complementing that group will be Ian Mason and Zhihong Pang, who finished second and third, respectively, at Baysides last year in the pole vault, Hunter Brown, fifth in the discus at the invitational, and sprinter Tajh Molock.
Cambridge-SD may need all that if it’s to wrestle the 1A East title away from Colonel Richardson.
“So far from what I’ve seen in the 1A, I believe it’s going to be us and Cambridge,” Colonel head coach James Jackson said. “Cambridge is strong in middle distance and (long) distance also. It’s just going to come down to can we make up the pole vault points that we’re not going to have.”
Colonel senior speed burner Eric Joseph needs only to look back on last year’s state meet to find all the motivation he needs, after getting nipped by Brunswick’s Erik Jones in the 100-meter final, then on the anchor leg of the 4x100 relay, 44.29 to 44.37.
“He keeps thinking about how close he was,” Jackson said of Joseph, whose time of 11.22 seconds was second to Jones’ 11.12 in the 100. “He was there with Lamar Opher, when Lamar was there (winning the 100 and 200 state titles in 2014). He keeps talking about he wants to have his name up on the gym wall with Lamar. So I think this year could be his year if he pushes himself.”
Colonel will again rely heavily on its speed. Stanley Pierre-Louis and Richardson Rene have graduated, but the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 relays should still be strong with Jackson using any combination of Joseph, Cloderson Charles, Robert Thompson, Marcus Johnson, Darrion Speller, Brockman Harris, Dakota Wilson and freshman Jabraih Luke.
Speller won the 110-meter high hurdles and triple jump titles at regionals last year, and could bid for the long jump crown as well. Johnson (400), Thompson (100, 200), Harris (1,600) will earn points on the track, while Charles (high jump), Wilson (long jump), RaeQuan Dodd (shot put) and John Carter (discus) look to add points from the field.
Either North Caroline or Kent Island has won the last four conference championships — two each for the girls, while the Bulldogs have won three of the last four boys’ titles, including the last two.
“Baysides is still obtainable and so is regions for the boys,” Whiteley said. “It just depends on who stays healthy.”
The return of senior Rodney Thomas, who can challenge for both hurdle titles at any level, could also put the Bulldogs in contention at states. Thomas can be inserted in both sprints, or in a relay, depending on where Whiteley thinks he can earn the most points.
A junior, Franklin, who’s being courted by more than a half dozen Division I schools for football, won the discus at Baysides last year before finishing second at the 2A East Regional and states — where he unloaded a school-record heave of 158 feet, 8 inches — and won the conference and region titles in the shot put before taking third at states.
Thomas and Franklin, along with Christopher Hale, who can earn major points in hurdles, long and triple jump, defending conference and region pole vault champion Devin Robinson, Tay Potts (long jump, relays), Will Samuels (pole vault), Jordan Figueroa (pole vault), Kyle Schultz (400) and Troy Smith, runner-up in the 3,200 at the invitational, place North Caroline firmly among the favorites.
They have familiar company in Kent Island. But the familiar faces running the mid to long distances for the Buccaneers aren’t the only ones with the potential to impact Bayside and regionals this year.
David Bowen is back and accounted for 24 points at the Cambridge-SD Classic, placing second in the triple jump, third in the 400 and fourth in the 200 and long jump. Alex Emsurak scored in the hurdles. And first-year throwers Matt Zartman, Branden Jaski and Christian Rogers combined for 13 points in the shot, with Zartman finishing second.
“They showed me a lot of heart and the desire to win is getting stronger,” Holland said of the boys’ team. “In indoor, obviously the distance runners had that desire; they basically pulled the team. Now, the sprinters are getting on board and shot put is getting there. So now they’re all kind of forming more of a team as opposed to the distance crew doing ever ything.”
That crew includes defending Bayside 3,200 champ Brandon Nichols, who took first at 1,600 meters in the Cambridge-SD Classic, Erick Sanchez, who won the Classic’s 3,200, Cade Stan-
Kent Island’s Emma Tvelia could push for a state title this season.