Clinton-Massie boys track and field coach Scott Rolf believes his squad has potential to be very good this spring.
As a track and field coach of 25 years, Rolf also knows “potential” is a shaky word.
“I am excited about our numbers so far,” said Rolf who will be assisted by Jordan Phipps and Forest Goings at the high school and Jim Wagner (head coach) and Matt Hudson (assistant) at the junior high level. “However, we are still a little young and inexperienced. We definitely have potential. I love how hard the kids are working so far.”
In his third year as head coach, Rolf and the Falcons look to improve upon their fourth place finish in 2018. Massie can improve and even win the SBAAC American Division if, Rolf says, “Our seniors are great leaders and our newcomers and young guys can improve our team in several areas.”
Alec McDonald (hurdles) and Tate Olberding (high jump) lead the way as returning American Division champions. Other returning athletes are Devon Noble, Braden Rolf, Carter Frank, Aidan Wallace, JT Goings, Braden Green, Luke Lentine, Alex Shelton, Matt Martin and Toby Hayes.
Among those who are returning are Brendan Lamb and 2019 graduates Logan Fisher, Colin McDowell, Tyler Beam, Seth Schmidt.
Newcomers expected to make an impact are Ryan McGladrie, Daelin Maple, Marty Kreider, Connor Stulz, Collin Swope, Michael Moritz and Ethan Hagerman.
Rolf said Wilmington and Western Brown are league favorites.
East Clinton boys track and field will once again have several underclassmen in pivotal roles this season.
The Astros’ roster has 14 names just after practice started for the spring season and only two were upperclassmen — junior Lasse Hoffmann and senior Aidan Henson.
Bob Henson, in his second season as head coach, will be assisted again by Bob Malone.
East Clinton was sixth in the SBAAC National Division last season.
Aidan Henson is one of the most decorated East Clinton track athletes in recent memory. He was the National Division runner of the year in 2018, posting wins in the league meet in the long jump, the 400-meter dash and the 800-meter run while placing second in the 3,200-meter run.
“His achievements set an example for the team,” Henson said. “We have a promising junior in our international student Lasse Hoffmann.”
Henson was fifth in the district 800-meters and sixth in the long jump. He finished his junior season by placing 11th in the 800 at the regional meet in Piqua.
Other returnees are sophomores Landon Runyon, Van Frye, Justin Arnold, Peyton Garen, Jayson Edison, Michael Horn and Zach Vest.
“Many of the team’s sophomores were with us last year and I expect they will continue to mature as competitors,” said Henson. “Our freshmen look promising. We will work hard to continue to develop and grow a competitive track and field culture despite our small numbers. Motivated people find ways.”
Henson is honest when it comes to his squad’s chances of winning a National Division title, noting Williamsburg and Georgetown are the pre-season favorites.
“With our low numbers we lack the required depth to contend for the title,” he said. “I expect a good showing from our lead athletes.”
Two consecutive runnerup finishes in the SBAAC American Division track and field standings might be pleasing to most.
Not Wilmington High School boys track and field coach.
“We, as a team and program, have only one expectation … win the league title,” said Gary Massie, entering his third season as WHS boys head coach.
Massie will be assisted by J.D. McIntosh, Scott Killen and Karen Abbitt.
The WHS coach said the Hurricane has “a solid group of upperclassmen returning and know what is expected of them.” The incoming freshman are “looking good and buying in on what we do and expect,” he added. Massie noted his junior high school coaches are instrumental in that part of the process.
Key graduate losses from last year are distance runner extraordinaire Simon Heys, who is setting records as a freshman at Wilmington College, and Grant Mayer.
“I like where we’re at right now in numbers,” said Massie. “We have another solid team and are ahead of schedule with our times, heights and distances. We need to fill a few spots due to a couple season-ending injuries. I believe we have the young men to do that.”
Though just three points shy of league champion Western Brown, Massie knows over taking the Broncos, or any other team in the American Division, will not be easy.
“If we work hard, learn and stay focused, once again we should contend for the league title,” he said. “Last year’s loss at the league was a hard one to take. I believe we are driven to win the league this year and prove that our program is the best.”
The Wildcats were National Division runnersup in 2019 to Williamsburg.
But lost the National’s field event performer of the season in Clayton Schirmer, who is now at Wilmington College.
In addition, Blanchester has a new coach in Matt Pressler. He replaces long-time coach Tony Blevins.
There were also several 2019 graduates on that runnerup team including All-SBAAC performers Ricky Davis, Tyler Holland, Lucas Thacker and Brent Hopkins.
Several standouts were eligible to return but none have been confirmed at this time.
Blanchester last won the National Division title in 2017.