2/28/2017 3:30:00 PM Reed-Custer track teams ready to run
by Brent Sumner Staff writer
The Reed-Custer boys and girls track teams will begin their season Tuesday, as the program hosts its first of a four-meet indoor season in the fieldhouse.
The Comets are being coached by Trenton Roth, who enters his sixth season.
He will be assisted by Kevin Dockemeyer (distance), Rich Bell (sprints, long/triple jump), Bill Zacharias (pole vault, hurdles), Angela Antos (high jump) and new throwing coach, Mark Wolf.
"Mark Wolf, now an assistant track coach, is also the head football coach," said Roth. "Basketball just finished up, and we still don't know for sure which players are coming out for track. Coach Wolf, coach Mark Porter (basketball) and myself have been emphasizing to our athletes we want them to play multiple sports rather than specialize or take a season off."
Here is a run down of the boys and girls programs.
The Comets had a successful season last year with a fifth place finish in the 2A Sectional.
The JV team secured the conference championship, while the varsity had three boys qualify for state.
Zach Weaver (400, long jump), Shane Milburn (800) and Jon Costain (discus), were all qualifiers, and all but Costain will be returning this year.
Weaver, who is a junior, will be one of the top returning athletes, finishing last season with a seventh place finish in the 400 at state (50.3).
He also competes in high jump, 1600 meter relay and long jump, where he also qualified for state.
In the long jump, Weaver qualified for state with a distance of 21' 6-3/4".
Milburn will also return with hopes of making another trip to state.
The junior qualified last year in the 800 with a time of 2:02.48 at the Sectional.
He will also compete in the 3200 meter relay and 1600 meter relay.
Two other juniors to keep an eye on this season will be Tyler Hood and Gabe Nagel.
Hood took third at the Sectional last year in pole vault (12' 1"), and will also compete in sprints.
Nagel competes in the distance events from 800 to 3200, along with the 3200 relay and 1600 relay.
He placed fourth in the 3200 last year during the conference meet.
"Numbers on the boys' side look to possibly be between 35 to 40 athletes, up from 30 last year," Roth said. "We have worked hard to coordinate with the head coaches of the fall and spring sports in encouraging athletes to compete in multiple sports, and in recruiting incoming freshmen from the junior high program."
The Comets will also boast some strong new athletes, that will enter as upperclassmen.
For starters, one will be Vinnie Vercelote, who didn't run track last year, but will return this year as a senior.
As a sophomore, he was a conference champion in the long jump, took third in Sectional (20'10"), fourth in the 300 hurdles at Sectional (43.0), and was the alternate on the state qualifying 4x400 relay.
Junior Cory McGregor will enter as a hopeful at the middle distance/long sprints. He will most likely be member of the relay teams, and could possible fit in at 800 or 1600.
The same goes for sophomore Jackson Crater, who displayed his speed on the soccer field in the fall.
Another hopeful joining the team will be junior Russell Page.
"He is expected to make an immediate impact as a sprinter, in relays, and as a jumper," Roth said.
Overall, Roth believes that the boys team will be fairly strong heading into the season, especially if all the athletes he is hoping for come out.
He believes the Comets will be very strong in the sprints and jumps, along with the relay teams.
Reed-Custer's only drawback is the inexperience in the throwing events, where Roth hopes the new athletes can come in and start to make contributions earlier than expected in the season.
"Time will tell," said Roth. "We won't know until next week which players decide to come out for track. Several of these students are some of the best athletes in the school, so whether they come out or not will have an impact on our success."
The Lady Comets will build off of last year with a roster with more runners.
The girls are up from last year, where they only had 12 participating. This year, they will have 16-18 athletes looking to make a trip to state.
Last year, the Lady Comets earned seventh place in the varsity conference meet, and wound up qualifying Emily Golaszewski, triple jump, for state.
The Lady Comets have several strong runners returning from a year ago. Veterans include four girls that placed at the conference meet.
Senior Jenn Tedeschi will be looking to climb the ranks in her events, the 400 dash and 4x100 relay, where she placed within the top eight in the conference.
She will be joined by juniors Mia Kuchar and Natalie Pacholski, as well as sophomore Maddy Helsing.
Kuchar will run distance, placing within the top eight in the 3200, while Pacholski and Helsing will both display their skills at pole vault.
Along with returning athletes, the Lady Comets will see a lot of contributions from their incoming competitors.
One to really watch will be freshman, Jaden Christian, who earned a second in state last year in the eighth grade long jump (17' 9-1/4"), and also qualified in the 4x100 relay. She will compete in sprints, relays and jumps this year.
Along with Christian will be two other freshmen, Macy Pfeifer and Brodie Thompson, who were both members of the state qualifying 4x100 relay team last year. They will also be relied on to compete in the sprints and relays this year.
Senior Cailyn Porterfield will be a new member to the track team as well, and will most likely compete in the sprints and relays.
Another top newcomer will be freshman Izzy Bippus, who will most likely compete in sprints, jumps and hurdles.
"Girls numbers are always lower due to there being two other sports running concurrently (soccer and softball)," said Roth. "We are young and inexperienced, but we believe we have some good pieces to rebuild fairly quickly and be competitive in the conference in the next year or two. It's early, but we like the kids' attitude and work ethic so far, and we are excited about what this season holds."
Looking ahead, both track programs will be kicking off their season on Tuesday against Wilmington, Streator and Dwight.
They will host three more meets after that, before heading to the Prep Top Times at Illinois Wesleyan, and will then move to their outdoor season.
As the season progresses, the Comets will be looking at their top opponents in the conference, including Sandwich, Plano and Seneca.
"It is our goal to compete with and challenge for one of the top three spots in the conference each year," said Roth. "Hopefully we capture a conference championship."