Springfield track ready to face numbers test

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent
Springfield Spartans

SPRINGFIELD TWP. They won't have a numbers advantage this season, so the Springfield boys and girls track teams will have to make the most of the talent base on their respective rosters and try to maximize the impact of that talent.

With the built-in challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic already facing the program, an additional challenge came when the district elected to go to a pay-to-play model for sports, meaning athletes needed to pay a fee to participate in a sport.

Veteran head coach Kevin Gorby concedes that the situation led to some athletes not being able to take part, but is determined to work with those who did come out for the squad and try to make it a successful season.

"We basically are getting ourselves ready for the season ... our numbers are lower and some of the kids stayed away because of the cost, but we're training the kids and working them into what they're trying to become and achieve," Gorby said.

With roughly 16 athletes each on the boys and girls teams, meets figure to be tough in terms of scoring enough points to win, but Gorby is confident that on an individual level, the two teams have competitors who can win races and compete with anyone they face.

For the girls, the top returnees are senior distance runner Merrick Glass and junior distance runners Emma Sandefur and Laura Walsh. With the cross country program at Springfield evolving into a force in recent years, that trio has been part of the distance group's growth and figures to continue that this spring. 

Add in a pair of good throwers in Victoria Fields and Josie Turney and the Spartans have a solid base that will be complemented by a young, but promising group of underclassmen looking to make their mark.

Junior hurdler Adrianna Terrell is another athlete to watch for the girls and Gorby is excited to see what they can achieve. 

"We really have some good talent on the girls' side and our strength is going to be our distance group," Gorby said. "That is really because the cross country team is basically the track team and cross country just missed making the state championship in Division II."

With that base, the 3,200-meter relay promises to be one of the better events for the girls. As for the boys, senior middle distance runner and sprinter Jay Turney will lead the way alongside hurdler Calen Eckenrode and a crew of freshman distance runners helmed by Logan Gasper and Peyton Carney.

 "We have a young crew of freshman distance runners who are going to be awesome and a good throwing crew who are young, but are a solid group," Gorby said.

It's not an easy thing for a track team with a small roster to begin a season knowing the challenges in its way, but Gorby is insistent that the goal of sending athletes to the state meet remains a top target. He's confident that sort of talent is on the roster regardless of its size and in light of that, the mission is to go as far as possible - and to get there at top speed.