H.S. Track and Field Boys Preview: Hamburg has makings of ECIC Division II challenger
Hamburg looks to bounce back from a 2-3 ECIC Division II season with a more experienced squad, fielding 15 seniors, which should provide the team with tremendous talent and depth.
Among those upperclassmen are senior twins, Jared and Ben Brucker, who have both made it to the State Championships in previous seasons. Jared qualified in the pole vault and Ben during the indoors in the middle distance. Hamburg head coach Robert Beach believes Ben will be tough to beat in the 800, 1600 and 3200 meter races, while he noted Jared has already met the sectional qualifying standard in the pole vault and 400 hurdles.
The Bulldogs opened the season beating Williamsville South 97-44 and Nate Gorrell won three individual events, taking the long and triple jumps and the 100, along with being part of the winning 4x100 relay. The senior is one of a handful of strong sprinters and horizontal jumpers like Tim Morris, Luke Jaroszewski, Max Accordino and Nick Larson.
Sean Pine and Austin White compliment Jared Brucker in the pole vault, both with the potential to finish right behind him in sectional competition. Pine is also strong in the 400 and 800, while Casey Hopkins and Zach Stumpf round out a very strong group of distance runners. In the throws, Kyle Brown, a record-setter during the indoor season, leads the team in both the shot put and discus.
Also in the meet against South, Ben Brucker won the 800, 1600 and 3200, while his brother Jared took the pole vault and 400 hurdles, in addition to running on two winning relay teams. Pine won the 400 and ran on two winning relay teams.
Beach believes Sweet Home will provide the Bulldogs with its biggest challenge in the division. The last several years that meet has come down to the last relay race with Sweet Home prevailing last year and Hamburg the season before, according to Beach. He expects this year’s division title to come down to the last two relays.
Lake Shore rebuilds behind distance runners
TJ Hornberger headlines a group of young distance runners expected to lead Lake Shore this season.
A state qualifier in cross country and track and field, the sophomore finished with a school record 9.32 in the two-mile. His coach, Chuck Kowalski, believes Hornberger will improve even further this season and again compete at the state level. Joining him in the distance races will be freshmen Josh Wheeler and Calvin Butlak and junior Ian Yargeau, all of whom can run a sub-five minute mile.
“The strength of our team is without a doubt the distance guys,” Kowalski noted of this hard-working group.
Kowalski also expects big performances from senior captain Brett Matthews in the 110 and 400 hurdles. He ran a 58.5 in the 400 intermediate hurdles last season. The Eagles should also be quite competitive in the pole vault with seniors Kevin Zybert, an 11-foot vaulter, and Mike Kellar, who’s best is 12-3. Among some of the youngsters Kowalski will look for to step into bigger roles are Danny Kowal, Travis Wright and Chad Wilkie.
After winning the ECIC Division III regular season title last year with a 4-0-1 mark, the Eagles lost several key athletes so they’ll be rebuilding some this season, according to Kowalski. He considers the program lucky that its modified team has about 70 athletes, so reloading is not far off, he noted.
Deep St. Francis goes for third straight title
St. Francis returns a pair of multi-event All-Catholic champions to a program that has won consecutive MMAA titles. Seniors Akeel Lynch and Dom Buccieri are part of a talented group that has already shown off its promise by recently winning the Trojan Invitational in Alexander.
Last year, the Red Raiders fought back to overcome regular season champion St. Joe’s at the All-Catholics meet behind Lynch winning the 100 and 200 meters and guiding the 4x100 to victory and Dom Buccieri taking the 400 and anchoring the winning 4x800 relay. But this is also a deep team as exhibited in Alexander on April 21. The Red Raiders scored in 18 of the 19 events entered and that was without Lynch, who was visiting Penn State where he’ll play football.
Buccieri won the 400 and led a victorious 4x400 relay, also consisting of Darrick Weyrough, Peter Tremblay and Alex Schaffstall, in 3:21.17. Tremblay also won the 400 hurdles in 51:30, while Zachary Wells, Cody Tehan, Steve Kawalerski and Dominic Mendola made up the winning 4x100 relay that finished in 45.17.
Also during what head coach Steve Otremba called a “workman like effort to grind out first place,” Kerrick Woyshner set a school record in the pentathlon in finishing second among large schools. Finishing second with personal bests were Andrew Hayes in the 1600 with a 4:37.22 and Tehan in the triple jump (40-10).
Second places were added by Weyrough in the 400; Christian Bruno in the 800; Bill Fitzgerald in the 400 hurdles; Tremblay in the 110 hurdles; Joe Clifford in the high jump; the 4 x 800 relay of Tap Tasker, Ian Pacholec, Hayes and Schaffstall; and the throwers relay of Jacob Smolinski, Chris Busha, Chris Ponichtera, and Anthony Mangino. Taking third was Schaffstall in the two-mile with a career best 10:16.13.
Eden to rely on distance runners, throwers
From sprinters, hurdlers to jumpers, Eden’s losses from last season were vast, but the Raiders will attempt to move forward with some experienced long distance runners and throwers, along with an athlete giving the pentathlon a shot in 2012.
Versatile senior Rick Krouse, mainly a middle distance runner and hurdler, has become one of the Raiders top point scorers in the pentathlon, which includes a 19-foot long jump and a 5-10 high jump, good for first place at the Maroon Classic. The Raiders’ boys took second at the 20th annual event held April 21 at Eden.
Returning to the distance races are seniors Victor Castillo, who runs a 4:36 mile, and Ed Schneider, whose specialty is the 3200. Senior Ryan Satanek, a cross country runner, has also joined the team. Leading the throwers are seniors Garrett Lavelle, who just missed qualifying for last season’s Section VI Championships, and Mitch Eck, who threw a 37-3.5 to win the shot put at the Maroon Classic.
Youngsters John Bley, a sophomore, and Joe Lopez, an eighth grader, step into larger roles in the sprint events and freshman Arek Vankureren should be one of Eden’s top middle distance runners. Junior Chris Kirsch will be relied upon to help lead the hurdlers and high jumpers.
Raiders’ head coach Tom Wall expects Eden to have its hands full competing in ECIC V against the likes of Holland, Alden and Cleveland Hill.