Boys Track & Field: Olentangy Orange Pioneers maintain high expectations
Olentangy Orange boys track and field coach Adam Walters had state championship hopes last spring after the Pioneers won the Division I team title at the state indoor meet.
However, the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Walters has a different group of athletes this spring, but the same high expectations.
“Things are different this year, but I like what we have,” said Walters, who is in his seventh season. “We’re probably not a top-five team in the state, but I like the pieces that we have.”
Walters points to the jumps as being a strength. Senior Jonathan Peterson was second in the pole vault (15 feet) in the state indoor meet March 5 and 6 at SPIRE Institute in Geneva. Senior Kaleb Cramblett also should stand out in the event.
Junior Jordan Rudolph was fifth in the long jump (20-8) at the state indoor meet, and sophomore Andrew Reynolds was runner-up in the triple jump (42-6). Junior Joel Addo also will be in the high jump and long jump.
Rudolph, junior Gabe Torres and freshmen Nick Robinson and Kobe Sharpe will lead the sprinters, with senior Joe Gargasz running the 400 meters and the 800. Senior Jake Ethridge, junior Bryan King and freshman Saketh Rudraraju will lead the middle distance and distance corps.
Juniors Jake Burre and Rico Franklin and sophomore Bobby Ogles will be in the throws.
“We’re pretty balanced overall,” said Walters, who has 155 boys in the program. “We have some talented kids, but they just don’t have the performances to back that up because they haven’t competed in two seasons. We’re just glad to be back and finally out there competing.”
INSIDE THE PIONEERS
•Coach: Adam Walters, seventh season
•Next meet: April 16 at New Albany Friday Night Eagle Invitational
•Key athletes: Joel Addo, Jake Ethridge, Rico Franklin, Joe Gargasz, Bryan King, Jonathan Peterson, Jordan Rudolph, Saketh Rudraraju and Gabe Torres
expected to pace Braves
Versatile senior Kole Brookshire and junior thrower Reilly Worthington are among a handful of returnees for Olentangy, which graduated one of two Division I state qualifiers from 2019 in 11th-place pole vaulter Cade Carter.
While he said his team does not necessarily have any standouts early in the season, third-year coach Ken Whalen said the Braves’ scoring will come from parity in all events.
“We have some good throwers and a solid distance crew. I don’t know if anyone is outstanding, but we have a good pack that will thrive off each other and score well at meets,” Whalen said. “Reilly Worthington has a chance to go far. Kole Brookshire is an all-around athlete who pole vaults, but he can high jump, long jump and sprint, too. That’s extremely valuable, and we have several guys from the cross country team who should do OK (in distance events).”
That distance group includes senior Johan Rosgaard, juniors Taye Gonzalez and Nate Karr and freshmen Roman Corbett and Parker Reed.
Seniors Jason Feasel and Zach Wieging, who played integral roles as a lineman and forward, respectively, for the football and basketball teams this school year, will throw along with Worthington.
Juniors Min-Song Kim and Jack Renton will sprint with Brookshire. Sophomore Adam Marshall has emerged as a high jumper.
Junior Quin Forgrave was 10th at state in the seated 800 as a freshman.
INSIDE THE BRAVES
•Coach: Ken Whalen, third season
•Next meet: April 16 at Granville Invitational
•Key athletes: Kole Brookshire, Taye Gonzalez, Jack Renton, Johan Rosgaard and Reilly Worthington
Patriots hope depth
Although Liberty has about 120 boys competing this spring, only a small number have experience in varsity meets.
The Patriots were expected to have 38 seniors last spring before the season was canceled.
“I wouldn’t call us young, but we are inexperienced,” fifth-year coach Nate Cikach said. “We’re counting on a lot of guys who have not been in big meets. We have a lot of freshmen that will be competing for positions as well.”
Senior Henry Debord, who competes in the shot put and discus, and sophomore high-jumper Dean Stack are among the few who contributed in 2019, when the Patriots had a pair of state qualifiers in 2019 graduates Luke Bendick (third in pole vault) and Gavin Smith (11th in long jump).
Other throwers include juniors Caden Hansen and Ben Huefner, with junior Carson McKee expected to be the top pole vaulter and junior Zachary Warrick joining Stack in the high jump.
Senior Ani Banda and sophomore Jaxson Eckert are competing in hurdles, with seniors Jack Maag and Liam Shoemaker in the long jump.
Seniors R.J. LaRosa and Winston Fox, sophomore Andrew Lee and freshman Noah Miller are the top distance runners, with senior Mitchell Boggs expected to run the 400.
Seniors Luke Ettefagh and Anthony Sirianni and juniors Drew Gaitten, Aedan Gilbreath and Nick Johnson should lead the sprint corps.
“The one thing our guys have done a really good job of is continuing to work even once the season got paused last year,” Cikach said. “They kept working and really haven’t stopped, so we’re really excited. They bring high energy.”
INSIDE THE PATRIOTS
•Coach: Nate Cikach, fifth season
•Next meet: April 20 vs. Orange
•Key athletes: Mitchell Boggs, Henry Debord, Luke Ettefagh, Winston Fox, Drew Gaitten, R.J. LaRosa, Carson McKee, Anthony Sirianni and Dean Stack
Bears feature enough
depth for success
Second-year coach Anthony Beggrow likes the look of his Berlin squad, which has depth that was missing from the team in its inaugural season.
“We have depth, and we’re well-balanced,” Beggrow said. “We have a lot of young guys working their way up. It’s different than in the past because we don’t just have depth in one area.”
Luke Walden leads the Bears as one of the top pole vaulters in the state. The senior cleared 16-6 to finish second in the OHIAA state pole vault competition March 7 in Wooster. He opened the outdoor season by going 15-9 at the London Red Raider Relays.
“Luke has been working hard and has been jumping really well,” Beggrow said. “He went 15-9 at London and might have gone higher, but the standards wouldn’t go any higher. He’s been super-smooth.”
The Bears also expect to be strong in distance and middle distance led by seniors Jack Dunlop and Corey Rinehart and sophomore Cooper Citro, all of whom ran cross country last fall.
Senior Liam McGreevey, juniors Abram Murphy and Zach Sherman and sophomore Moses Murphy will lead the sprint corps, and McGreevey also competes in the long jump.
Senior Cole Troyer and junior Kyler Heitzenrater lead the throwers.
“We have around 80 boys, which is a good number,” Beggrow said. “We’ve been building strong on the guys’ side and it’s been a fun building process.”
INSIDE THE BEARS
•Coach: Anthony Beggrow, second season
•Next meet: April 16 at Granville Invitational
•Key athletes: Cooper Citro, Jack Dunlop, Kyler Heitzenrater, Liam McGreevey, Abram Murphy, Moses Murphy, Corey Rinehart, Cole Troyer and Luke Walden