COVENTRY TWP. A young team brings certain challenges with it, but also plenty of energy and excitement and it’s those latter two parts of the equation the Coventry girls track team is banking on this season.

While the roster numbers about 33 athletes, the Comets believe that they have a group of talented underclassmen who can boost the program this season.

"We’re pretty excited. We’ve got a lot of youth and only a handful of upperclassmen, but we’re looking forward to seeing what we’ve got," head coach Ed Egan said.

Egan pointed to competitors such as Lisa Roberts (discus) and runners including Paige McGonigal, Halie Stevens and Libby Vanderark as some of the candidates to make an impact early in the year.

The first week of the season was a bit more challenging than normal for the Comets because their opening meet came during spring break and a few members of the team were on vacation. With the full roster back together, the next hurdle to clear is the weather, which has once again made for a difficult beginning of the year in terms of practicing and consistently getting on the track.

Without the benefit of an all-weather track, Coventry has to cope with the rainy conditions as best it can and make use of its indoor space as well.

The one area of the team that could most use track time in both practices and meets is distance, where inexperience is a significant factor.

"Distance is still a weakness right now because we have a lot of freshmen and sophomores who are adjusting to varsity track," Egan said. "Having our first meets and getting to see everybody run will help figure things out."

If the distance events are an area of development - senior Isabella Varig is coming off her first season of track and looking to build on her first season competing in the 800 meters - then the sprints are where the Comets should be at their best.

Vanderark turned in a solid season running the 200 last year and McGonagle was likewise strong in the sprints. Add in the hurdles, where sophomore Ashley Martinez returns, and anything short of 400 meters looks to be a place where Coventry can consistently score points in meets.

Having 33 athletes on the roster means there won’t be an overwhelming amount of depth in certain events, but there should be enough competitors to put a strong contingent together in most of them.

Egan believes the 400- and 800-meter relay teams will be solid and the 1,600 relay has a chance to be strong as well.

For the five seniors on the roster, the season is a chance to lead and be an example for their younger teammates and it’s a task McGonigal, Ashley Rafferty, Roberts, Jenna Shockey and Virag are already tackling even though the season is just a few meets old.

"After missing a few girls during spring break, we’re eager to get after it and get the year going," Egan said.

Sophomores comprise more than half of the roster for the Comets, who will have a tough road ahead of them in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division. Woodridge, a frequent state title contender, should be strong once again and the rest of the division is dotted with talented individual performers.

With the league meet less than a month away and the postseason to follow, time is already in short supply when it comes to improving and getting in position for a strong end of the year. Adding experience to the young talent they have in place offers the promise of progress, but how quickly that progress occurs is to be determined in the coming weeks.

Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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