Coventry boys track team showing improvement for new coach
COVENTRY — First-year Coventry boys track head coach Danny Savage said he has “definitely seen improvement” in his team this season.
“I’m actually surprised at how much improvement I’ve seen,” he stated. “That is a testament to the kids and how hard they work in practice. They’ve really bought into our training this year and are seeing it pay off. When we give them goal times to hit in their repeats, they actually try and hit them.”
Last year, Coventry finished the regular season at 2-9 overall and 1-6 in the Portage Trail Conference (PTC). This year, the team was 4-8 through May 8.
“[That] is the best record we’ve had since I started as an assistant in 2010,” Savage said. “Three of those losses have been by 10 points or less, so we almost could have a winning record. In our invitationals, we’ve actually been holding our own. The kids are really starting to compete this year and want to run well and win and stuff. It’s nice on the bus rides home passing out ribbons and medals to lots of our athletes.”
Coventry has six seniors on this year’s squad: Brandon Arnold, Carson Bogdanovich, J.W. Heape-Bell, Austin Humbert, Timmy Jackson and Griffin Pinkus.
“All of them are experienced veterans except Austin, who is in his first year. I had to bargain with him to get him out this season and am really glad he decided to. He is an outstanding high jumper, and I also convinced him to run in our 4x100-[meter relay], in which he has done well,” the coach said. “Brandon is a good 800-[meter] runner who I think can go 2:06 by the end of the season. Carson has a chance to be PTC champ in the long jump, with a career best of 20 feet, 2 inches. He is also running outstanding right now in the 400 meters. J.W. is a very nice hurdler, with the 300 [intermediate hurdles] being his best event. He has gone 42.1 [seconds] this year and is looking to break into the 41s this weekend. Timmy is a consistent thrower, going 112 feet in discus and 41 feet, 4 inches in shot put. He has the ability to put it out there in discus, as we’ve seen him go 120s in practice. Griffin is our short sprinter, but this year he has been doing better at the longer sprints. He runs very nice relay legs in the 4x100 and the 4x400 when he has to get thrown in that one.”
Two other athletes who have been key contributors for the team this year are newcomers Johnny Hoover and Casey Prater.
“Junior Johnny Hoover is a first-year runner who I convinced to come out after seeing him play soccer. He is a five-minute miler and a 2:15 800-meters guy, so he is running very well in his first year,” Savage said. “Casey Prater has been a nice surprise. It’s his first year running, and he already is part of a school-record relay and is running some great times in the 4x400. He is also doing well in the 300 hurdles. Once we get him in better hurdle form, he’ll have the ability to go low 40s.”
According to the coach, this year’s sophomore class is “very strong.”
“Kelan Siner-Jacobs is a returning regional qualifier in the 400 meters,” he said. “First-year runners Casey Prater and Devin Westfall have been outstanding additions to our team. Tyler Davis and Luke Bogdanovich are returning lettermen and have been doing well this season. The freshmen and sophomores are a very dedicated bunch, and we can build upon this to start having some great teams in the future.”
Savage said his team is strongest in the 200- and 400-meter sprints.
“We have very solid long sprinters, and that allows us to put together really good relays,” he said. “Our 4x200 team of senior J.W. Heape-Bell, sophomore Casey Prater, senior Carson Bogdanovich and sophomore Kelan Siner-Jacobs keeps lowering their own school record. Their best time this year is 1:34.8, which makes us very competitive in the PTC. Our 4x400 is only three seconds away from the school record in that, having run a season best of 3:36. It is made up of the same people as the 4x200.”
One thing Savage said he would like to see improve going forward for the program is the team’s depth.
“With only 24 people on the team, it makes it tough to play around with relays and things like that. Having more depth would allow us to alter our line-up in order to match up better with our opponents,” the coach said. “The biggest piece that we are missing is a dominant short sprinter.”
Coventry will take part in the PTC finals May 11 at Ravenna High School starting at 4 p.m. And next week, the team will take part in the district meet. Savage said he believes his team has the ability to make some noise this postseason.
“I’d like us to be finalists in as many events as we can,” he said. “I honestly think our 4x200 and 4x400 has a chance to make it out of districts. I keep telling them, ‘Just make it to finals and anything can happen.’ If we make it to finals, other teams could have a bad race or botch an exchange, and as long as we run well, we can get out.”
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