The Press Newspaper
Athletes like Justin Welch, Crosby Schemenauer and Josh Hoodlebrink helped Eastwood's boys track and field team take second place at last year's Division II state meet.
If those three perform up to expectations in the field events this year - and the rest of their teammates come through - the Eagles just might nab the school's first state track title.
"This is definitely the best team I've ever had, field event-wise," said 21st-year coach Gary White.
Eastwood had 39.5 points at last year's state meet to finish 8.5 points behind Sandusky Perkins. The Eagles also took second at the 2005 state meet.
Welch, now a junior, is the defending state champion in the discus while Schemenauer, a senior, was the runner-up in the pole vault. Hoodlebrink, a junior who was fifth in the high jump, also qualified in the long jump but did not place.
Eastwood is off to an impressive start in 2009 after having won the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Indoor Meet in March at the University of Akron. It was the Eagles' second straight title at that meet.
"It's kind of a state meet, so to speak," White said. "There were probably 40-50 schools there from Ohio. Rather than go all three divisions, they break it into a Division I level and combine Division II and Division III. We took about 20 kids down there."
Welch won the weight throw at Akron, while Hoodlebrink won the high jump and the triple jump.
Last Thursday, Eastwood won a dual meet at Lake, then followed with its sixth straight win at the Whitmer Gold "W" Relays on Saturday.
"Our field events are really strong this year, and indoor track did help us there," White said. "A lot of the same kids who did indoor high jump, long jump, shot put, pole vault - they started the season in really good shape. Our running events, we're slowly getting into shape and getting better."
Welch already has the best outdoor discus throw in the state this season, at 193 feet.
"I definitely expect him to place (at state) in both shot and discus," White said. "He would not be satisfied with anything but a win in the discus. He's already thrown the shot over 60 feet indoors, and last year that distance won the state meet. If he can do that outdoors, he should do well in the shot."
Schemenauer already has pole-vaulted one foot higher than he did all of last year.
"There are some good ones out there, but he's jumped higher than he ever has," White said. "He's gone 15-6 outdoors. That's a tremendous jump. I know he feels he can improve on that, and we have the whole season to work on that."
On the track, Eastwood will be difficult to match up against, particularly in the Suburban Lakes League. The Eagles have won the last eight SLL titles.
Junior Cody Seifert returns after placing third in the 200-meter dash and fourth in the 100 at last year's state meet. Seifert, along with senior Matt Schlumbohm and Hoodlebrink, return to run on the 4x200 relay that took second at state.
White is also looking for top performances from sophomore Nick Twining and senior captains Josh Beaudoin and Jason Faykosh. Twining took second in the 800 at the indoor meet at Akron.
"He has turned into a very good 800 runner for a sophomore," White said. "I've had some good 800 runners, and this kid is really filling the mold. I think he will be a surprise this year."
The coach said Beaudoin was "an average runner" his freshman and sophomore year.
"He has worked really hard, and he's going to be one of those guys running on the 4x400," White said. "That's one of the reasons I think we have a shot (at a state title), guys like him who are working hard.
"Jason Faykosh has already run faster in the 300 hurdles than he did all of last year. He has a shot at doing some damage before the year is out."
White added that the Eagles have a legitimate shot at reaching the state meet in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 relays.
"It's hard to get all three relays down to state, but they have a shot at it," he said. "I'd be disappointed if two out of those three didn't make it."
White said it's too early to pencil in Eastwood for its first state title, but he knows the Eagles have the athletes to make it happen.
"We don't talk about a state championship, because we take it day-to-day," he said. "A few kids in that group want to be state champions, and all of those guys can place well. If you place well in your events down there, you have a chance at a state championship."