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Woodridge boys track team wins league title

5/17/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Ariel Marks

PENINSULA — Woodridge boys track head coach Les Carney said his team’s season has “gone really well so far.”

“We are undefeated heading into the district meet, and we have won two invitationals,” he stated. “We won our own Woodridge Wrap-up, and we also won the Division II title at the Icebreaker Invitational up at Ashtabula.”

Last weekend, the Woodridge boys track team earned another Portage Trail Conference County title.

“Overall, we did very well at the league meet,” he said. “We won our fifth league championship in a row and the team competed well. It was awesome for them to come out and win the meet. There were a couple of teams there that were really strong in Rootstown and East Canton, and we were able to beat them, so I’m really pleased with the overall performance.”

Carney said his team also featured some strong individual performances at the league meet.

“We had a couple of guys who repeated as champions in Ceon Kelly in the 100 meters and Drake Sulzer,” the coach said. “Drake won four events at the league meet — two individuals and two relays. He’s really been running well in the last couple of weeks, and we’re excited about his postseason chances. We think he has our best chance as an individual to possibly move on to the state meet. Right now, his chances look pretty good.”

Next up for the team is a trip to the district meet at Cortland Lakeview.

“The district meet prelims are on Thursday [May 17], and then on Saturday, [May 19], we go back for the finals for everybody who qualified,” the coach said.

According to Carney, Woodridge has “a good mix of veterans and youngsters” this season.

“We are a pretty balanced team all around,” he said. “Our strength is still our distance program, although our sprinters and field events are also strong this year. The biggest improvements on our team this season have come in the field events. Our throwers and vaulters have made large gains this season.”

This year’s top seniors (with quotes on each athlete provided by Carney) are as follows:

• “Drake Sulzer is our best distance runner. He is the lone returning member of the 4x800 [meter] relay team that set the state record last season. He’s been a very good leader for our team this year.”

• “Ceon Kelly is our top sprinter. He was a regional qualifier in the 100 last year, and he has carried that success into his senior year.”

• “Nick Karam is our top returning hurdler. He was a regional qualifier in the 300 hurdles last year. He will be running at Mount Union next year.”

• “David Beach is our top thrower. He has improved tremendously from last season and has a good chance to advance in the postseason.”

“All of our seniors are good leaders and really do a great job of showing our younger runners the right way to prepare to run their best,” the coach said.

According to Carney, the team also has featured key performances from the junior class.

“Pat Dickinson, our top pole vaulter, set the school record of 13-feet, 2-inches at the Woodridge Wrap-Up,” the coach said. “Matt Wojcik really started to come on at the end of last season, and it has continued into this season. His strongest event is the 3200 meters. And Kyle Spreitzer is developing into a very strong middle distance runner. The biggest losses from last year’s team — Vibush Sivakmaran, Jimmy Charles and Jacob Onifer — were in his events [400 and 800 meters], and he has stepped up in a big way to minimize the impact of those losses.”

Carney cited junior Mike McCann as “a pleasant surprise” this season.

“He has improved tremendously from last season to this season,” the coach said. “He has really dedicated himself to getting better and worked his tail off in the off-season. He ran cross country in the fall, and that really improved his strength and endurance.”

The team also has received strong performances from its underclassmen this year, Carney said.

“For the sophomores, middle distance runner Tim Faiken has been strong in both the 400 and 800 this year. Neil Green has been on both sprint relays during his two years on the team. He is also beginning to pole vault, and we expect him to add that event on the varsity level next year. And Isaac Shepherd and Doug Mcie have both come on strong in the throws,” he stated. “For the freshmen, Brian Jankowski is a young miler who has consistently been under five minutes this season. And Demetrius Tabler has also impressed. He’s our No. 2 100-meter runner as well as being a member of both sprint relays.”

Carney is in his second season as head coach of the Woodridge boys track team and his seventh in the school’s track program.

“I work with our sprinters and relays exchanges,” he said. “Jeff Howard handles our distance crew. Scott Mercer — jumps, vault and hurdles — and Brian Wismer — throws — are the assistant coaches.”

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