The Times West Virginian

March 29, 2014

Boys’ teams hope for fast starts

By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian

Polar Bear boys set the bar high

Last season the Polar Bears sent 13 boys to the state meet, and 11 returned with medals. The strong showing  helped Fairmont Senior take third as a team.

With many of the key pieces returning, expectations are again high for the Polar Bears.

“My expectations are the same for every year,” said Fairmont Senior boys’ track coach Ken Scherich. “We want to get down to the state meet and hopefully place in the top five.”

Of the returners, senior Neil Scherich is among the most decorated. He took second in the 110 high hurdles, fifth in the discus and was part of two top-five relay teams at last year’s state meet.

Joining Scherich on the third-place 4x400 relay was Matt Strand. The middle-distance/long-distance runner also placed sixth in the 1,600 and joined Joshua Parrucci and two others to take second in the 4x800. Parrucci and Strand will be just two of the runners that will help to fill the void created when Nick Trefz, a place-winner in three events last year, graduated.

The Polar Bears also return all four pieces from their fifth-place 4x100 team, including sophomores Andrew Bundy and Ben Stewart and seniors Chad Heldreth and Neil Scherich.

“Let’s not forget about the throwers,” coach Scherich added.

With that in mind, seniors Andrew Summers and Daquan Hilson should score well in the shot put, as both advanced to the state meet last year. And Logan Kish will provide support in the discus.

Scherich also sees potential from a number of new sprinters, including Malik Boddy and Brian Brian Curry.

Young Bees looking for improvement

After finishing 14th in last year’s state meet, East Fairmont returns a young squad with just five seniors and four juniors.

The Bees will count on the returners who have state meet experience to provide leadership for the younger athletes.

Junior Myles Johnson is among those who has the most potential for this season. Last season he placed seventh in the 400-meter dash and also teamed with David Wadsworth and two others to help East take sixth in the 4x400 relay and eighth in the 4x200 relay.

Wadsworth, a senior this year, also took 10th in the 4x100 relay along with Frederick Vincent. Vincent also advanced to states in the 300 hurdles.

One of the younger athletes with state meet experience is Jacob Morris. The sophomore is the only returning piece from the Bees’ fourth-place 4x800 relay team.

Senior thrower Cody Eckles will also help the Bees score in the field events.

Coach Ken Hibbs acknowledged that some of his younger athletes may struggle at the beginning of the year, but he said it’s important for them to continue to work hard and improve as the season progresses.

“It's very difficult generally for freshman boys to compete. There is a big difference in the physicality of the kids. Freshman boys are still boys, but senior boys are young men,” he said.

“I just have to be patient and help them to realize that they need to put in the work. I’ll give them examples of younger kids who may have struggled but went on to be successful as juniors and seniors.”

North hopes to take next step

North Marion returns a handful of key pieces from last season’s 15th-place team.

Sophomore Justin Wheeler, senior Robert Elliott and senior Logan Merrifield are back from the seventh-place 4x110 shuttle hurdle relay.

Merrifield also teamed with Cody Colisino, a senior this year, to take 11th in the 4x100 relay. And the pair was joined by Robert Burkett to place 15th in the 4x400.

North Marion track coach Keri Bland said she is planning to enter Merrifield in several more individual events this season, including the 400 and 200.

Bland also has high hopes for senior Alex Myers. As a junior, he significantly improved his times and was just one spot away from advancing to the state meet last year. Bland said he is working hard to take the next step this year.

“I can see it in his eyes,” she said. “We’re hoping we can get it this year. This is his last chance.”

Bland added that several other young athletes show promise and expects them all to improve as the season progresses.