New Albany Roundup: Distance runners ready to deliver for Eagles girls track and field team

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
New Albany senior Alexis Curren competes in the 1,600 meters during the Upper Arlington Invitational on April 2. Curren is one of the top contributors to the Eagles' deep distance corps.

New Albany girls track and field coach Amy Glenn considers sprint and distance events the strength of the team so far this season, perhaps not surprisingly given how close the Eagles came to being represented in the Division I state meet two years ago.

Senior Nicole Stewart returns after finishing fifth in the 100 meters at regional in 2019, one spot and .12 of a second shy of becoming the program’s first state qualifier since 2015.

Classmates Anvita Dandu (hurdles), Sidney Mackey (sprints), Nalaijah Penn (sprints) and Jayla Reese (long jump) also return for New Albany, whose season continues April 16 when it plays host to the eight-team Friday Night Eagle Invitational.

“We are hopeful (Stewart) will stay healthy and make it to state this year. She is coming off a successful cross country season,” said Glenn, who is in her fourth season. “Open sprint and distance events with solid performances by all three relay teams (are an early strength).

“We need to build on our field events — we’re very young in the shot (put) and discus area, but we have a new coach, (Aida) Rodriguez, who has been a vital addition to our team along with coach (Scott) Elwer, who also coaches football, so he brings a lot of experience and commitment to closing the gap between both sports.”

Stewart, senior Alexis Curren, junior Isabel Goldstein, sophomore Stephanie Thomas and freshman Elise Hill all were on the girls cross country team that finished eighth at regional.

Curren is a George Mason recruit in lacrosse.

Senior Kiara Crumbley, who helped the swimming and diving team to the Division I state title and will swim at Washington & Jefferson, will run distance events.

Jumpers include juniors Caroline Ebert and Kate Partridge and sophomore Mackenna Murgatroyd. Senior Katherine Meslow will contribute in sprints, and junior Taylor Reeping is the team’s only pole vaulter.

Sophomore Audry Smithers should lead the throwers.

Other distance and middle-distance runners include junior Carolyn Daly, Partridge, sophomores Olivia Gaines and E’Moni Saxton and freshman Brooklyn Giger.

GIRLS TRACK & FIELD

Coach: Amy Glenn, fourth season

Next meet: April 16 Friday Night Eagle Invitational at home

Key athletes: Kiara Crumbley, Alexis Curren, Anvita Dandu, Jayla Reese and Nicole Stewart

Sprinters to pace 

boys squad

Despite several expected top contributors missing the season’s first meet because of spring break, third-year boys track coach Greg Flecher saw enough early on to know who should lead the Eagles.

“We have a lot of depth with our sprinters. That was going to happen last year. It’s a few years in the making of building relationships with our junior high athletes, something I wanted to do,” Flecher said. “We wanted to make sure there was a connection between the middle school and high school programs. I like how we’re building that way.”

Junior Julian Meacham-Dean is the only returnee from the 400 relay that finished fifth in the Division I state meet in 2019. He also will hurdle and long jump.

The distance unit could be particularly deep, as it will be led by seniors Ethan McNichols and Victor Orsinelli and junior Will Benseler. All three competed in the state cross country meet in November, with Orsinelli finishing 21st, Benseler 33rd and McNichols 97th.

Orsinelli finished fifth in the 3,200 (9:27.23) in the indoor state meet March 6 at SPIRE Institute in Geneva.

Senior Colin Swincicki, junior Luke Weibel, sophomore Lleyton Axline and freshman Boston Dues also are in the distance group.

Other expected contributors include juniors Xavian Andrews (sprints), Brock Kidwell (hurdles, sprints) and Jake Walters (throws) and sophomores Josh Anderson (sprints, jumps) and Christian Manville (sprints).

BOYS TRACK & FIELD

Coach: Greg Flecher, third season

Next meet: April 16 Friday Night Eagle Invitational at home

Key athletes: Xavian Andrews, Brock Kidwell, Julian Meacham-Dean, Victor Orsinelli and Josh Richardson

Boyer, Mudre to lead

‘unproven’ tennis team

Cleveland State recruit Devin Boyer and Chattanooga-bound Ryan Mudre, both seniors, will lead the boys tennis team as it tries to extend its streak of league championships and improve on a third-place finish in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I state tournament in 2019.

Boyer, who won the Division I doubles title two years ago with 2019 graduate Nathan Jose, is at first singles and Mudre is at second singles. The Eagles were ranked first in the district and third in the state by OhioTennisZone.com to start the season.

“These guys are young and somewhat unproven, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Everybody is unproven at some point,” eighth-year coach Marc Thomas said. “We have to go out and play the matches. We will have a good opportunity to prove ourselves considering the schedule we play, but we will lean on Devin and Ryan. I think they’re two of the best players in the state, and I think depending on what we do, a state champion could be on our team right now. Maybe we’ll be there at the end with the (OTCA) team title.”

Senior Kaan Odabas started the season at third singles. Playing doubles were juniors Declan Freedhoff and Halen Hamstead, sophomore Dhruv Chavan and freshman Ben Bilenko.

“We’re going to compete a lot during practice and have a lot of challenge matches to figure out where we’ll be,” Thomas said. “Declan and Ben are a great combination. Declan is very calm under pressure and plays well on big points.”

New Albany won 13 consecutive league titles in the OCC-Capital Division from 2007-19 but now is in the OCC-Ohio.

BOYS TENNIS

Coach: Marc Thomas, eighth season

Next match: April 15 at Gahanna

Key athletes: Ben Bilenko, Devin Boyer, Declan Freedhoff, Ryan Mudre and Kaan Odabas

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave