COVENTRY TWP. The Coventry boys track team has thrived in recent years thanks in large part to some talented, top-end competitors who consistently took top places at invitationals, dual meets and other big events.
This year, it appears the Comets’ success will hinge more on top-to-bottom contributions from a roster that has promising athletes on it but at the moment doesn’t boast as many standout perfumers as it has in the past.
"It should be an interesting year for us. Our numbers are super high, but we lost lots of good athletes to graduation," head coach Danny Savage said. "Hopefully this year, we’ll be well-rounded with our sprinters, distance runners, throwers and jumpers."
One of the returning standouts on whom the Comets are counting is junior Treon Sibley, a University of Akron football recruit who sat out most of basketball season due to lingering ankle and knee issues. According to Savage, Sibley told him he plans to run this spring, although it remains to be seen if Sibley will compete in his normal complement of events and run every meet.
If he does run, Sibley is "the one stud we have who can carry us at times in meets," Savage noted.
Outside of Sibley, another top runners suiting up for the Comets this spring is Ray Hilbert, who turned in several top finishes during cross country season and despite being relatively new to distance running, he’s expected to lead a group that includes several underclassmen with promise.
Savage pointed to the distance group’s succession of strong veteran runners over the years as a lineage that Hilbert can continue.
"Our distance group is coming on strong. In the last few years we’ve had guys like Tucker Pearce and Brad Holmgren and now it’s Ray Hilbert’s chance to step in and we’ve got guys like Ben Bullock and Dev Patel who are coming on strong," Savage said.
In the field events, a collection of newcomers to track is poised to get its chance to shine as Brayden Dauberman, Zach Rankin and Sam Vanadia anchor the throwers. Dauberman only started throwing the discus last season but according to Savage, he’s been besting his top throws from last season while throwing in the cold and snow this preseason, with tosses of 130 feet or more.
Vanadia, who bulked up to play football last fall and saw that added strength pace him to his best basketball season on the varsity level, will throw shot put along with Rankin at at 6-foot-6, Vanadia is working on his form and using his size and strength in his favor, Savage said.
So far, a lot of the team’s work has been done indoors thanks to chilly late-winter temperatures and snowy conditions that haven’t always been hospitable to outdoor practices. That’s where the district’s new high school, opened two years ago, comes in handy.
"When we do go inside, we can have our throwers in the cafeteria, have one coach take some runners to the weight room and have another group in the gym or working on the stairs," Savage said.
It’s a stark departure from the previous setup in which the high school was a long distance race down Manchester Road from the track and field setup, which was formerly located behind Erwine Middle School, a structure that stood on the site of the new high school.
Now, the track team has the spacious new school right by the stadium where the track is located and plenty of spaces inside the school for indoor work. It’s in that setting the Comets are working to develop what they hope will be an army of new competitors to step in and replace the talent lost to graduation.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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