Balance may be the key to success for the Johnstown-Monroe High School girls track and field team.

Balance may be the key to success for the Johnstown-Monroe High School girls track and field team.

The Johnnies feature talented performers in the sprints, hurdles, distance events and jumps as they look to return to the top of the MBC and capture berths in the Division II state meet in June.

"We are a very balanced team; everyone has their niche," said coach Brad Orr, who is in his second season leading both the boys and girls programs. "The strength of this team is that we're a team. We're very well-rounded."

The Johnnies opened March 24 in the 15-team Icebreaker Invitational at Watkins Memorial and finished seventh (44 points) behind champion Hilliard Darby (114.5).

Johnstown was led by a trio of regional qualifiers from last season in senior distance-runners Stephanie Loshbough and Meghan Schulze as well as junior high-jumper Kendall Colvin. Loshbough won the 3,200 meters in 11 minutes, 33.4 seconds, a program and meet record. Schulze finished second in the 1,600 (5:35.9) and third in the 800 (2:34.1). Colvin was second in the high jump (5 feet, 2 inches), the same effort as champion Bri Rispress of Darby.

Senior Lizzy Wisma was sixth (13.2) in the 100, junior Marissa Sheets was sixth (1:03.1) in the 400 and freshman Elizabeth Blenk was seventh (4-10) in the high jump.

"I was really happy with the way we performed at Watkins (Memorial)," Orr said. "Stephanie set a meet record in the 3,200 and also broke her own school record. And Kendall was second in the high jump, going as high as the winner only to lose on missed jumps."

Other key performers include seniors Christine Snowden (3,200) and Kellie Wilson (hurdles), juniors Ayli LaRoche (pole vault) and Abby Smith (throws) and sophomores Tanner Jakeway (200, 400), Jessica Turner (800) and Hannah Vicroy (long jump).

In the Division II regional meet last season, the Johnnies did not have anyone qualify for state. Schulze was sixth (5:17.58) in the 1,600 as the top four advanced.

Loshbough finished 11th in the 3,200 (12:25.4) and Colvin finished in a four-way tie for eighth in the high jump (4-10).

The 3,200 relay of 2011 graduate Katrina Cartwright, Loshbough, Schulze and Turner finished 10th (10:14.13). The Johnnies finished 38th (3.25 points) of 49 teams that scored as Hartley (82) won the regional title.

Johnstown finished ninth (34) of 26 teams in the district meet at Hamilton Township, behind champion Hartley (111).

In the MBC meet, Johnstown missed winning a third consecutive league title by two points after being edged by host Fredericktown 143-141. Northridge was third (96) followed by Loudonville (80), Centerburg (77), Utica (53), Danville (37) and East Knox (19).

•The boys track and field team finished 15th (9) of 16 teams in the Icebreaker Invitational, behind champion Logan (154.5).

"I was pretty happy with the performance because we had a lot of new guys and it was their first real track meet," Orr said.

Junior Tyler Estep, a move-in from Northridge, finished eighth in the 3,200 (10:48.5) and sophomore Alex Workman, a move-in from Chesapeake, was second in the pole vault (11-6).

Key returnees include seniors Ross Franklin (sprints, shot put), Jacob Wall (distance) and Shane Work (sprints) as well as sophomores Austin Chilcote (pole vault, hurdles), Aaron Davis (throws) and Ethan McNabb (throws).

Orr said three juniors, including two newcomers, should help the program. Yared Terrant is back in sprints and long jump after taking off last season. Tyler Thompson will be a sprinter and Marcus Nogaj has shown promise in the 400.

"It's the same thing as last year when we had a lack of experience and a lack of bodies," said Orr, who has "about 23 girls and 18 boys" in the program. "(We) have kids out who will eventually fill the shoes of our past athletes, but we don't know whether that will be this year or next year."

Chilcote was the only competitor from the boys team last season in the Division II regional in Dayton. He failed to clear the initial height of 11-0 in the pole vault.

The Johnnies did not score at regional as Dayton Dunbar won with 78 points.

Johnstown finished 14th (6.5) in the 14-team district 2 meet at Hamilton Township behind champion Eastmoor Academy (131).

In the MBC meet, Johnstown was fourth (82) behind East Knox (168), Fredericktown (128) and Loudonville (83) and ahead of Utica (72), Centerburg (56), Northridge (40) and Danville (30).

•The softball team started 0-2 before playing Danville in an MBC game March 30.

The Johnnies lost to Heath 12-2 in five innings in their opener March 26 before losing to Utica 3-2 in their MBC opener a day later.

"Heath has a sound softball team, there's no way around that," coach Steve Smith said. "It was just an excellent softball game (against Utica). We had a sense of urgency, but just couldn't pull the trigger at the end.

"I think if we played Utica 10 times, we would probably win five and they would as well. But we have started hitting the ball, so things are looking up."

After facing Danville, Johnstown does not have a game until playing at home April 9 against Centerburg in a league contest.

"It's spring break and the band has a trip to (Disney World)," Smith said. "All but two of the girls on varsity and j.v. are in the band, so we don't play again until the day after they return."