MORENCI TRACK: Morenci track coach Brad Brown doesn’t know when he’s seen numbers like these on a Morenci track team.
There have been girls squads close to this year’s 20, but many years have passed since there were 30 boys on a team.
Not only that, Brown says, but most everyone is back from last season.
Looking through the season-best times and distances from last season, Lucas Johnson returns to lead the boys throwers and Nichole Elarton is back for the girls. Johnson was last year’s regional champion in the discuss.
Boys high jump? Zach Phillips returns. Girls high jump and long jump? Phoenix Duncan is back. Duncan was a state qualifier in the high jump as a freshman last season.
The boys’ distance leaders are back again, including Phillips who broke the school record in the 1600-meter run and qualified for state in the 800-meter run.
Chelsea Howard returns to lead the girls distance running and the boys 3200-meter relay team members are all returning.
Chas Frey and Reece Graham return to the boys sprint events and Kate Gallup is back for the girls hurdle races.
Both squads have freshmen and a few new members to help fill the ranks for what should be a competitive season.
The Bulldogs continue to prepare for the season opener that comes after the spring break with a trip to Sand Creek April 16.
Weekend events include invitationals at Pittsford, Hudson and Litchfield. No home meets are scheduled due to the condition of the track that’s scheduled to be rebuilt this summer.
FAYETTE TRACK: Now that’s more like it.
Fayette track coach Ryan Colegrove is surprised by the turnout for this year’s boys track team, but he certainly isn’t complaining. With 20 members on the squad, the Eagles will be able to compete as a team rather than a collection of individuals.
“The guys should be able to fill out most events,” said Colegrove, who’s sharing head coaching duties with Bryan Stambaugh. “They’ll be able to be more competitive. It’s going in the right direction.”
The girls have a few more out than in some recent years at 12, although four of them are throwers and two others are recovering from injuries suffered during the basketball season.
The Eagles lost very little through last year’s graduation and the young girls team still has only one senior.
Last year’s regional qualifier Erica Goeltzenleuchter is back to lead the distance runs for the girls, with help from veterans Hannah Schrock, Olivia Molina and Sarah Kovar who all have cross country experience.
Elisha Hartman returns to the long jump and sprint events and Alexa Kessler is back for running events.
Returning point-winners on the boys squad include BBC 110-meter hurdle champion Austin Hylander who also placed fourth in the 300-meter hurdles.
Shelby Franks placed second in the 300s and he also earned a lot of points last year in the long jump.
Darrell Randall returns to lead the distance squad with veteran Ben Kovar and younger runners with cross country experience.
The Eagles will also score points from Eliott Richardson who returns to throwing events.
There are a lot of young athletes on the team, Coach Colegrove said, and they’ll help fill the ranks to deliver team points when the Eagles go up against other smaller teams.
• Fayette kicks off the season Thursday with a trip to Edon. They travel to Pettisville Tuesday.
MORENCI SOFTBALL: Morenci’s softball squad got off to a strong start March 24 at Manchester, blanking the Dutch 7-0.
The Bulldogs had the advantage of missing Manchester’s top pitcher due to illness, coach Kay Johnson said, but the Dutch had more than they could take from Morenci’s ace.
Senior Jade Pfund fanned 15 batters while walking none and giving up three hits. The absence of any walks was a big plus, Johnson said. In the end, Manchester never advanced a runner past first base, thanks to a Bulldog double play.
Morenci scored a pair of runs in the opening inning after Mariah Bovee singled, Nicolette Swimmer drew a walk and Chanler McCaskey slammed a triple.
In the third inning, Pfund and Swimmer each drove in runs on ground balls. Megan Cox singled in the fourth, advanced on a base hit by Tia Tompkins and scored on a wild pitch.
In the seventh inning it was Tompkins’s turn to drive a triple, scoring Cox who was safe on an error. McCaskey scored earlier in the inning after she was safe on a bunt, stole a base and came home when Cox was at bat.
Manchester’s pitcher struck out seven and walked four.
• Morenci was scheduled to entertain Addison on Monday but the Panthers chose not to play. The Bulldogs face Hudson in a double-header today played at Adrian College.