DeSales Roundup: Stallions boys tennis team excited about return season

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Senior Michael James is playing first singles for DeSales and fourth-year coach Tom Snyder. “(James) was playing really good tennis last year before we got shut down and I’m hoping he can regain that form,” Snyder said.

Although singles spots appeared set for the time being to begin the season, DeSales boys tennis coach Tom Snyder plans to spend a lot of time devising lineups in the early going.

In his fourth season with the Stallions, Snyder also said he will enjoy that portion of the job.

“This is probably the most fun I’ve had coaching, but it’s also the most inexperienced team I’ve coached,” Snyder said. “They’re a great group of guys and the team chemistry is our strength. With losing last season (because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic), we’re trying to embrace the fact that we’re able to compete. The goal is to be playing our best tennis at the end of the season.”

Seniors Kevin Heil, Michael James and Isaac Rush return from the 2019 team that went 10-5 overall and 2-2 in the CCL but lost its Division II district qualifiers in doubles players Will McAfee-Weatherspoon and Liam Verfurth. Both were 2020 graduates.

James primarily played second singles as a freshman and sophomore but is at first singles this season. Heil, who won 11 doubles matches as a sophomore, is at second singles and Rush is playing third singles.

“(James) was playing really good tennis last year before we got shut down and I’m hoping he can regain that form,” Snyder said.

In the mix for doubles spots are seniors Isaiah Rush and Romiaun Speed, sophomore Enoch Oye and freshmen Brandon Heil and Preston Thai.

Thai’s cousins, Kim My Li and My Linh Li, won the Division II state doubles title for DeSales in 2009. My Linh Li also qualified for state in singles in 2011 and 2012.

“I’m trying to work through finding the right combination with so many new guys to varsity. The guys returning with experience are all playing singles, so there’s a lot of inexperience at the bottom of our lineup,” Snyder said. “There’s some talent there, but not a lot of match experience.”

BOYS TENNIS

Coach: Tom Snyder, fourth season

Next match: April 17 at Reynoldsburg Doubles Invitational

Key athletes: Brandon Heil, Kevin Heil, Michael James, Isaac Rush and Preston Thai

DeSales' Emmanuel Hood competes in the 400-meter relay April 7 at Westerville South. The junior is expected to be a top contributor in sprinting events.

Boys track team tries

to sustain success

Neither of the boys track and field team’s Division II state qualifiers from 2019 who were eligible to return did so, but as far as second-year coach Tim Jewett is concerned, that merely opens the door for this season’s athletes to make their own impression on the program.

“We have a really good balance of kids and with what they can get accomplished, there’s a lot of upside there,” Jewett said. “My job is to help kids discover in themselves what is outstanding and once they do that and take ownership, it’s a new ballgame and that intrinsic motivation carries forward in a big way.”

Seniors Erik Nguyen and Quintell Quinn, the latter an Ohio University football recruit, helped the 3,200-meter relay to sixth place at state two years ago. That capped a season that saw the Stallions finish second in the CCL, first at district for the second consecutive year and third at regional.

Top contributors are expected to include seniors Jack Laugherty (throws), Isaiah Rush (distance) and Aidan Williams (hurdles, sprints), juniors William Djedje (hurdles) and Emmanuel Hood (sprints) and sophomores Owen Eckstein (distance), Max Figliola (sprints), Neal Godfrey (sprints), Ethan Lackey (distance), Rhett Norris (hurdles) and Adam Weithman (distance).

Each of the distance runners helped the cross country team to its first CCL championship since 2006 last fall.

“Emmanuel has put a lot of time in to get himself conditioned and strong for the sprints,” Jewett said. “Jack Laugherty has been strong in the discus and shot put. We have a lot of great leadership from the older kids who are really looking toward building something with the younger, newer kids on the roster who haven’t really run for us yet.”

BOYS TRACK & FIELD

Coach: Tim Jewett, second season

Next meet: April 16 at Bellefontaine Chieftain Relays

Key athletes: Luke Aaron, Neal Godfrey, Jack Laugherty, Aidan Shannon and Adam Weithman

Sprinters pacing

girls track team

The girls track team also is reloading, as all three of its Division I regional qualifiers from two years ago graduated.

Several sprinters and distance runners return, led by seniors Cara Jewett and Gracey Wilson, junior Laurenda Lamboni, sophomore Josie Dages and freshman Mary McAllister.

Dages qualified for the Division I regional cross country meet as a freshman, a feat equaled by McAllister last fall, when both helped the team win its second CCL title in four years.

“(Dages) is a promising young lady and her running pursuits have been outstanding,” coach Jewett said. “Cara is looking forward to having a strong year. (Junior) Erica Offei is another basketball girl in the throws and jumps. What we’ve experienced so far is all new for me, too. It’s been tough to know what we have so far.”

Another member of the girls basketball team, sophomore Liz Meeker, will run sprints.

Other contributors include senior Megan Shuey (hurdles, middle distance), sophomores Bryn Klingbeil (sprints) and Rebekah Oladokun (throws) and freshmen Isabella Barry (distance), Katherine Dortmund (hurdles, jumps) and Kaitlin Emmerling (distance).

Coach Jewett lauded the work of his assistants, including program long-jump record holder Aaron Melsop and cross country coach Amy Schockling, for helping sustain continuity throughout the year.

“We have some great coaches who have done terrific work throughout the winter and into the spring,” he said. “We have a great continuity of staff. They do it because they love it and love working the kids.”

GIRLS TRACK & FIELD

Coach: Tim Jewett, second season

Next meet: April 16 at Bellefontaine Chieftain Relays

Key athletes: Josie Dages, Cara Jewett, Liz Meeker, Erica Offei and Gracey Wilson

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave