Track & Field: Thomas Worthington Cardinals boys looking for ‘whole team effort’

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Thomas' Noah Silliman competes in the 3,200-meter relay during the Newark Invitational on April 3. The senior is expected to be one of the top distance runners for the Cardinals.

The Thomas Worthington boys track and field team has the talent and the will to have a successful season, but it’s going to take a concerted effort from the entire 57-athlete roster, according to seventh-year coach Bill Darling. 

So far, he said the early returns have been encouraging. 

“We’ve had kids step up,” Darling said. “It’s going to take a whole team effort. We’re going to need points from every aspect of our team. And so far that’s what we’ve seen, and the coaches are very pleased from the effort from the kids so far.”

The Cardinals’ all-hands-on-deck approach is especially pertinent considering the departure of Justin Braun, a junior who won the Division I state title in the 400 meters (46.76 seconds) as a freshman but has transferred to Westerville Central. 

“It is a big loss for us, but Justin is still part of the Thomas Worthington track family and we are very proud of him and wish him the best,” Darling said. “(But) we are excited about this season.

“We still have a lot of talented athletes who are looking to make a significant contribution this season. It’s hard to know exactly what you have because we didn’t have a track season last spring, but we are really excited about what we have seen so far.” 

Senior Noah Silliman and junior Ben Smith are the top distance runners, with seniors Wesley Horton and Macario Etienne projected to lead the way in middle distance. 

Darling said juniors Daniel Assoku, Shohaan Singh and Cam Beatty have stepped up in sprint events following Braun’s departure. 

“We’re doing well in sprints despite losing perhaps the best sprinter in the country,” Darling said. 

Sophomore Xander Llewellyn and senior Luka Srsic will be top performers in the throws and pole vault, respectively. 

Darling also said the Cardinals will look for significant contributions from senior Jayvaun Lane in the long jump and senior Jamir Lewis in the high jump. 

INSIDE THE CARDINALS 

•Coach: Bill Darling, seventh season 

•Next meet: April 17 at Dublin Coffman Joe Lenge Classic 

•Key athletes: Cam Beatty, Noah Silliman, Wesley Horton and Luka Srsic

‘Great effort’ expected

from Wolves girls 

The Kilbourne girls entered the season with a combined 23 sophomores and freshmen who have never competed on varsity before. The Wolves have a combined nine juniors and seniors. 

“We always try to do better than we did the previous year in the big meets, but of course we didn’t have track last year,” 12th-year coach Chip Seely said. “So I’ve got a lot of these freshmen and sophomores that have never competed at the varsity level. That’s a first for all of us.” 

Seely said he knows there will be bumps along the way. 

“What I tell the girls is, I don’t expect great results but I do expect great effort,” he said. “And as long as they’re showing improvement from meet to meet and practice to practice then that’s really all we expect.” 

Seely said the Wolves’ distance runners are going to lead the way, including senior Ella Brown and sophomore Toby Bomser. 

“Overall our distance girls are going to carry us,” Seely said. “When I look at some of these young girls and some of the times they’ve been running, we’re pretty pleased so far.” 

Senior Sylvia Long and junior Tate Riley will mainly compete in the 400 and 800. Long also will compete in the high jump. 

Sophomore Rachael McCague and freshmen Samira Lin and Lily Walters are expected to contribute in sprints and middle distance, with Walters also expected to compete at pole vault and long jump. 

Other key sprinters include junior Camille Shiffer, sophomores Ellie Malleske and Leandra Morgan and freshman Yehdeiah Dennis. 

Morgan and Dennis also will compete in the throws and high jump, respectively. 

Junior Lia Gimbel will be the Wolves’ main hurdler. Senior Lauren Richner will compete in pole vault. 

INSIDE THE WOLVES

•Coach: Chip Seely, 12th season 

•Next meet: April 17 at Coffman Joe Lenge Classic

•Key athletes: Toby Bomser, Ella Brown, Lia Gimbel, Sylvia Long, Lauren Richner and Tate Riley

Cardinals girls work

to solve ‘big puzzle’

A lost 2020 season isn’t deterring the Thomas girls team’s postseason ambitions.

At least the early part of the season is going to involve figuring out the roster’s strengths after adding some inexperienced athletes, according to eighth-year coach Andy Cox. 

“It’s kind of a blessing just to be competing. Anytime we’re running, it’s just like, ‘OK, what do we have and what can we build on’ because there’s a lot of unknowns,” Cox said. “We graduated a lot and so to be able to have these (girls) step up and perform, it’s going to be fun. 

“It’s a big puzzle to put together to see what we can do in the postseason this year.” 

After missing the latter part of the fall cross country season because of injury, senior Carina Napoleon projects to be a top contributor in distance events. 

“We’re expecting big things from Carina,” Cox said. 

Junior Hadley Kulina, the Cardinals’ “multipurpose” athlete, will compete in a variety of events, including the high jump, 800 and 300 hurdles. 

“She’s going to be doing a little bit of everything,” Cox said. 

Junior Leila Boussedra will compete in both distance and middle distance. Other key middle-distance runners include senior Morgan Edwards and sophomore Karlie Fidler. 

Key sprinters include senior Jazmine Rogers, senior Jada Stephens, junior Riley Chase and sophomore Chaneya Garner. 

Stephens also will compete in hurdles, with Garner in jumps. 

Other notable contributors include junior Kennedy Macerollo in pole vault and sophomore Habiba Bundu in throws.

“We want to qualify for the state meet in a couple of events, hopefully the (400 and 800 relays),” Cox said. “I think we can get a couple surprises in with some of our open events as well. But to continue growing as a team and show continued improvement would be excellent.”

INSIDE THE CARDINALS 

•Coach: Andy Cox, eighth season 

•Next meet: April 17 at Coffman Joe Lenge Classic 

•Key athletes: Leila Boussedra, Riley Chase, Hadley Kulina and Carina Napoleon

Wolves boys coach

feeling optimistic

The Kilbourne boys team entered the season inexperienced in several areas, but fifth-year coach Josh Stegman said the Wolves possess “great natural talent.” 

“I am very optimistic with this group,” he said. “In general I think we could, despite missing so much time together last season, position ourselves well as a team in the league and move on several individuals and perhaps a relay or two a bit deeper in the postseason than we have in recent years.” 

Stegman said the Wolves’ strength lies mostly in their distance events as well as some relays, led by junior Luke Miller and freshman Ryan Smith. 

In sprints, key contributors include senior Luke Compton, junior Andy Gibbons and sophomore Tommy Brown. 

Senior Will Bartram, junior Brad Wisard, sophomore Mitchell Niemantsverdriet and freshman Steven Miller are the top middle-distance runners. 

Senior Cole Niemantsverdriet and juniors Toren Smith, Jason Miller, Joey Cottrill, Gunnar Langhirt and Nick Alexander will be top contributors in the throws. 

Top hurdlers include senior Logan Darling and junior Nate Harris.

Juniors Jared Wiley and Gavin Ware are the top athletes in jumps and pole vault. Both also will see time on relays. 

INSIDE THE WOLVES 

•Coach: Josh Stegman, fifth season 

•Next meet: April 17 at Coffman Joe Lenge Classic 

•Key athletes: Will Bartram, Luke Compton and Ryan Smith 

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

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