The Northland High School girls track and field team has a returning state qualifier who is rounding into form and several sprinters who have shown promise.
While those areas of the team have been developing, the Vikings' middle-distance and distance runners have provided much of the leadership, according to coach Tom Fast.
"Our distance runners have kind of carried us, not only in meets but in how disciplined they are," Fast said. "All the cross country girls were the ones who put the tents away (April 9 in a four-team meet at Eastmoor Academy)."
Senior Jasmine Owens and junior Mackenzie Pahren have been leading the distance corps. On April 6 in the Newark Invitational, Pahren placed sixth in the 1,600 meters (6 minutes, 8.94 seconds).
Senior Jasmine Weatherspoon has spent much of the early season getting back into track shape after missing most of the basketball season because of a knee injury.
She went 5 feet, 4 inches to place fourth in the high jump in the Division I state meet last June and slowly has begun to approach that mark.
In the Newark Invitational, sophomore Ariel Skipper was second in the 100 (12.89) and sixth in the 200 (28.62), and freshman Caitlyn Dent placed seventh in the 200 (28.91) and seventh in the 400 (1:05.57).
"Jasmine Weatherspoon is starting to get back to her old form," Fast said. "She's gone 5-2 in the high jump. Ariel Skipper has been doing amazing sprinting for us. Junior Kennedy Dulaney is somebody I'm looking to do good things in the hurdles along with (senior) Kennedi Pitts. (Sophomore) Mariah Nevels has done pretty well in the sprints.
"Right now we're just trying to get kids to accept their roles if we're going to have a chance to win the City (League meet). I tell the girls that a fourth and fifth equals a first in terms of points. We win as a team with our depth."
Bearcats eager for teams to come together
Brookhaven boys and girls track coach Steve Ayers was excited about the opportunity to give some of his top runners a measuring stick in the Mehock Relays on April 20 at Ashland University.
Although he believes both teams have the potential for big finishes this season, he hasn't seen the consistency he's looking for.
"We're looking OK," Ayers said. "I'm just waiting for the weather to break so we can get some decent times. I think we've always had the potential, but it's about keeping it together in the end of the season. It comes down to our league."
The girls team placed fifth (50) in the Eastmoor Academy Invitational on April 13 behind the champion and host Warriors (127) as 13 teams scored.
Senior Alexus McGill won the 800 (2:38.62) and junior Jatia Green was second in the 100 (12.91).
Juniors Myeisha Arnold and Kiara Stradford and sophomore Nazarae Butler have been other standouts.
In the boys meet at Eastmoor, senior Lei'Tonn Backus won the 200 (22.55) and senior Blake McEwen won the 100 (11.57). The 400 relay of seniors Kevin Greenhow, Ramone Broomfield, Backus and McEwen was first (44.65), as was the 800 relay of Greenhow, Backus, McEwen and sophomore David Peoples (1:33.64).
The boys were fourth (62) behind champion Independence (107) as 13 teams scored.
Beechcroft girls led by sprinters
First-year Beechcroft girls track coach Mike Moncrief has been pleased with his team's relays.
On April 9, the Cougars scored 34 points to place behind Northland (91), host Eastmoor (73) and Whitehall (35) as junior Tivia Hylton won the 400 (1:01.3) and the 400 relay of seniors Hailee Cannady and Amber Radcliff and sophomores Jamerah Reaves and Ahmel Roberson also placed first (51.4).
That same 400 relay was second (52.99) in the Eastmoor Invitational. Cannady added a runner-up finish in the high jump (4-6) to help the Cougars place sixth (49).
Senior Charissa Richardson, junior Ke'Azia Mosely, sophomore Wasaa Tali and freshman Lavonna Harrison have led the Cougars' middle-distance corps.
"They're all doing really well," Moncrief said. "Our relay teams have worked really hard and I'm very happy with them. We've got some middle-distance girls stepping up."
Top competitors for the boys team have included freshman Robert Williamson (long jump, sprints), sophomore Rayshawn Norah (sprints) and junior L.J. Cox (sprints).
In the Eastmoor Invitational, the 3,200 relay of senior Shakeem Miller, juniors Charles Ellis and Bryan Quijada and freshman Keilan Beachum was fourth (9:28.45).
Vikings boys track team battling youth
One of the top runners for the Northland boys track team has been Nateshawn Hargrove.
The fact Hargrove is a sophomore who did not compete last season epitomizes some of the inexperience the Vikings are trying to overcome this spring.
"Our numbers are looking pretty good, but we're really young," coach Marcos Segovia said. "We've got about 40 kids, but only two of them are seniors."
Senior Kevin Moore, who runs middle distance, has been among the team's top runners.
Sophomore Malik Williams (sprints), junior Mohamed Kamara (sprints, hurdles) and sophomore Darius Owens (middle distance) have been other key contributors.
On April 9, Northland scored 59.33 points to place behind host Eastmoor (84.33) and ahead of Whitehall (55) and Beechcroft (31.33). Hargrove won the 200 (23.0), Owens was first in the 800 (2:11.92) and Moore won the 3,200 (13:24.4).
"This is Nateshawn's first year doing track, and he's been running in the short sprints, relays and the open (100 and 200)," Segovia said. "Malik Williams did do track last year and even since the beginning of this year he's shown big improvement."