COVENTRY TWP. The Coventry girls track team is hoping to turn the corner this spring by infusing a big collection of fresh faces to a group of returning veterans intent on bettering the Comets’ seventh-place result last spring in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division.
One area where the program hasn’t had as much success in the recent past is depth, as the roster has typically been smaller than the coaching staff would have liked. That has changed this season and for head coach Ed Egan, that means more athletes on hand to vie for spots in the lineup.
“We have 48 on the roster … that’s the most in a very, very, very long time,” Egan said.
The returning athletes leading the way span the sophomore, junior and senior classes and a wide range of events. Senior Connie Agner is one of the top returnees in the sprint and middle distance events and along with fellow senior Sara Anstirman, she’ll be counted on to provide consistent production for a team with designs on rising in the PTC standings.
Anger and Anstirman will have help - and some competition - from sophomore Terryan Beauford and freshman Hailey Stevens in the sprint events. Stevens is part of a freshman contingent that forms a big chunk of the roster.
“We have another large freshman class and a lot of experience with our returners … (it) should be a great mix,” Egan said.
Senior Taylor Shaffer is at the head of the hurdling group for Coventry and with the freshmen class adding to the mix in the 100 and 300 hurdles, her veteran presence and leadership should play a big role in the weeks ahead.
Sophomore Gracie Collins is expected to add depth behind Shaffer in both hurdling events and as the season wears on, other underclassmen will also have a chance to step up in both events.
When it comes to areas of strength for the Comets, Egan pointed to the field events, where the aforementioned mix of veterans and newcomers is on full display.
“The event I really think are our strongest are the two jumps - Alyssa Lorence jumped 4’10” last year as a freshman in the high jump - and with Connie Agner and Brooke Wightman in the long jump,” Egan said.
Another area of strength looks to be discus, where junior Alyssa Roberts just threw 103’3” in the first meet of the season, as well as the 400, where Agner has been strong in the past. Roberts is one of the more proven Coventry competitors in both throwing events and after her strong start in the discus, she appears poised for a solid season.
Egan noted that the top three teams in the league last season were traditional PTC cross country and track power Woodridge, league newcomer Cloverleaf and Field. He said that improving to become one of the teams in that group atop the regular-season standings and at the league meet next month is a primary goal for Coventry.
It would be a big leap for a team that had a down season last spring, but with an infusion of new talent comes the hope of significant improvement. As the erratic spring weather of Northeast Ohio unfolds and makes life challenging for practices and meets in the next few weeks, Coventry will do its best to find some consistency and close the gap between itself and its PTC Metro rivals. It won't be an easy task, but the Comets are counting on their bolstered roster to fuel their push.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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