Ready Roundup: Silver Knights track and field program building 'culture-wise'
Building a team identity is one of T.J. Burbridge’s prime objectives in his first season as Ready track and field coach.
Burbridge is a head coach at the prep level for the first time and didn’t compete in the sport when he was in high school. However, he has an extensive background in athletics that includes playing football at Centennial before graduating in 2007, coaching track at Jones Middle School in Upper Arlington and coaching football for the last five years with Ready coach Joel Cutler.
Also on the Silver Knights’ coaching staff is Nikki Brown, a 2012 graduate who was a distance runner for Ready. She made it to the Division II regional in the 800 meters as a senior in addition to being a standout girls basketball player.
“We’re growing already as a team culture-wise,” Burbridge said. “We’ve got numerous kids that play other sports right now and we’re getting stronger and stronger. I think we’re going to shock people a little bit. Even though we have a smaller team, they’re growing every day.”
Senior Darius Parham, who was a first-team all-district boys basketball player, is out for track for the first time and should run in sprinting events along with senior Tyrese Hudson and junior Angel Rivera. Hudson has committed to play football for Marist.
Juniors J’Sun Gardner and Sage Tilley are competing in the 400, with junior Evan O’Connell and freshmen Jacob Blubaugh and Dalton Miller in the 800.
Freshman Eder Zepeda is running in distance events, with senior P.J. Daniels competing in the high jump and 400. Parham also is in the high jump.
For the girls team, junior Addison Whitmer should lead the distance corps after qualifying for the regional in cross country last fall. She’ll likely run the 1,600 and 3,200 along with sophomore Kate Radwanski and freshman Jackie Smith.
Sophomore Bryn Whitmer, who is Addison’s sister, likely will run the 200 and 400.
Senior Mercy Cala-Avila and junior Allison Bair are the top sprinters.
Junior Claire Larger is competing in the long jump and high jump, senior Jenna Ruth is in the high jump and sophomore Ella Larger is in the long jump.
Senior Emma Pond is the top shot put and discus thrower and is joined in those events by seniors Clarissa Bachelder and Iveth Saucedo.
TRACK & FIELD
•Coach: T.J. Burbridge, first season
•Next meet: April 12 at Liberty Union
•Key athletes: Boys — Jacob Blubaugh, P.J. Daniels, J’Sun Gardner, Tyrese Hudson, Evan O’Connell, Darius Parham and Angel Rivera; Girls — Allison Bair, Mercy Cala-Avila, Claire Larger, Emma Pond, Jenna Ruth, Addison Whitmer and Bryn Whitmer
Tennis team hopes
to grow during season
Having four players with court time at the varsity level or in tournaments gives the boys tennis team a small experienced core this spring.
There also is a large group of newcomers, including four freshmen who coach Dan Skuce hopes can provide a base for the future.
“This year’s team is very young,” Skuce said. “I only have four … players with experience. All the other players are brand new to the game and literally I’m still teaching most how to score.”
Seniors Mitchell Clark and Dario Scott and junior Adam Bennett have returned from 2019 when the Knights finished 4-11 overall and 1-3 in the CCL.
Bennett or sophomore Phillip Ryan, who is competing at the prep level for the first time but has tournament experience, will be at first or second singles.
Clark likely will spend the season at third singles or doubles.
Freshman Nathan Bennett, who is Adam’s brother, and classmate Kenny Kight could team up at second doubles.
Seniors Leikey Linlei and Elias Wahl, junior Logan Kitgo, sophomore Ryan Petrella and freshmen Liam Armstrong and Chase Kitgo are others who should gain match experience.
“(It’s) great to be on the courts after missing last season and it’s always exciting to see how we progress and improve over the course of the season,” Skuce said. “I think we’ll be competitive in many of our matches this year.”
•Coach: Dan Skuce, sixth season
•Next match: April 16 at Jonathan Alder
•Key athletes: Adam Bennett, Nathan Bennett, Mitchell Clark, Kenny Kight, Phillip Ryan and Dario Scott