Columbus Academy Roundup: Vikings track and field program begins new era

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Columbus Academy senior Gabe Taub competes in the shot put during the Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays on April 10 at Big Walnut. He also will throw the discus for the Vikings, who are led by first-year coach Ashlee Abraham.

First-year coach Ashlee Abraham is looking forward to maintaining the high standards of the Columbus Academy track and field program. 

Abraham, a former middle school coach and high school assistant at Academy, succeeded Denny Hammond, who guided the Vikings for five seasons.

“It’s an adjustment, but I’m learning new things every day,” Abraham said. “It’s just adjusting to some of the nuisances that you never see. I’m loving it so far. Working with the kids, seeing what workouts work (and) what can be adjusted, I’m loving that process.” 

The Vikings opened April 10 in the Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays, with the boys team finishing sixth (38.96) behind champion and host Big Walnut (111.97). 

The boys return a solid group from 2019, led by senior distance runner Luke Nester. He joined seniors Manny Eribo (sprints) and Vincent White (distance) and sophomore Zech Kim (sprints) on the winning distance medley relay (8 minutes, 32.74 seconds) at Big Walnut. 

Other key distance runners are junior Peter Heerman and sophomore Jonathan Hammond, while other key sprinters are seniors Vaughn Armour and Sam Huyghe and sophomores Gabe Eribo and Emmanuel Jenkins. 

“This year’s main goal is to improve as a team and get back to the state championships,” Huyghe said. “Coming off multiple state qualifications in multiple events two years ago, this year’s team has some big shoes to fill and I believe we can do it. We’re a very young team and have a lot of new guys and girls. 

“We are hoping when June comes around, we will have multiple people standing on the podium (at state).” 

Abraham also expects White to contribute in the high jump, and senior Gabe Taub returns to compete in the discus and shot put. 

The girls team also should feature a strong distance group, led by senior Regan Cornelius. 

Cornelius, junior Annabelle Huyghe (sprints), sophomore Adelaide Kaufman (distance) and freshman Rene Fleege (sprints) won the distance medley relay (10:27.44) at Big Walnut. 

The Vikings finished fifth (40.95) behind champion Big Walnut (116.46). 

Other key distance runners are juniors Julia DeVore, Mary Kate Prall and Madeline Proctor and freshman Maria Massick. 

Other key sprinters should be seniors Hannah Clay and Olivia Pierre-Louis and freshman Irena Alahakoon. 

Pierre-Louis also is a high jumper. Junior Samantha Frickel and freshman Ella Lowrie are other key high jumpers, and junior Tara Hoffman will compete in the discus and shot put. 

“We have so many people who are green to track,” Abraham said. “We’re just trying to help them understand the terminology, tell them where to go and what their processes are. They will get it.” 

TRACK & FIELD 

Coach: Ashlee Abraham, first season 

Next meet: April 23 at Licking Heights Invitational 

Key athletes: Boys – Vaughn Armour, Sam Huyghe, Luke Nester and Vincent White; Girls – Regan Cornelius, Julia DeVore, Tara Hoffman, Olivia Pierre-Louis and Mary Kate Prall

Zach White tries to get past Bexley's Elliot Goldman during Academy's 13-4 win April 13. White scored four goals in the game.

Boys lacrosse team

has limited schedule 

Despite a limited early season schedule, boys lacrosse coach Derek Lichtfuss has been pleased with his team’s progress. 

Academy was 2-1 before playing St. Charles on April 15. 

The Vikings opened with a 13-9 win over Westerville Central on April 8 before losing 9-8 in triple overtime to Olentangy Berlin on April 10. They then beat Bexley 13-4 on April 13. 

Zach White led the Vikings with four goals against Bexley, followed by Devan Agrawal and Henry Rubey with three apiece and Drake Bellisari with two. 

“We are playing catch-up,” Lichtfuss said. “Most teams have six games by now, (but) we just played our third.” 

Swimming, hockey 

coaches step down 

The school is looking for a pair of winter coaches after the resignations of swimming and diving coach Craig Yakscoe and hockey coach Corey Taber. 

Yakscoe stepped down after two stints as coach totaling 19 seasons, while Taber had been coach for four seasons. 

Yakscoe coached the Vikings for three seasons, beginning in 1995, before again taking over in 2005. He led the boys team to 12 league titles and five district championships, and the girls team to 10 league championships. 

“It was not an easy decision and one that I had been giving some thought to the last two, three years,” Yakscoe said. “This year felt like the right time. ... I have combined this head-coaching role with golf as well for the last seven years. 

“I will certainly miss the student-athletes in their journeys to become better swimmers and divers, as well as better young men and women.” 

Yakscoe will remain as the school’s boys golf coach. 

Taber guided the hockey team to its lone league title in the 2019-20 season, finishing first in the CHC-Blue Division at 7-7-1-1 (16 points).  

Academy went 8-16-1-1 in Taber’s final season. 

He helped form the program, which began in 2017 as a junior varsity team. 

“It was a very tough decision to step down, but it was the right move for the team given other commitments in my life,” Taber said. “I’ll miss being behind the bench, but I’m excited to see what the next stage will bring for the program.” 

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank