Girls' Track Eyes Similar Success After Indoor Championships
After capturing the Hockomock League championships this winter, the Oliver Ames girls’ track coach Mike Darling sees similar success for the Lady Tigers this spring.
Many members from winter, including Basia Osborone, Olivia Milieka, Emily Newman Michaela Lievi Laura Daley, Michaela Nichols (an individual indoor league champion in the high-jump), and tri-captains Kristi Kent, Shannon Hickey and Emily Grotz, return.
The team also welcomes several newcomers that include Candace Steadman, Allie Brennan, Lindsey McNeice and Erin McCarthy, just to name a few.
That combination alone gives Darling another reason for optimism.
“These girls are focused,” he said. “Many of them who are participating in spring right now, did indoor and they brought a lot of their friends along with them. We picked up a lot of senior athletes like Erin McCarthy in the discuss and javelin and Lindsey McNeice [javelin] and we have the impressive list of freshmen.”
Out of that particular list, Darling is impressed with the leadership from his tri-captains, Grotz, Hickey and Kent.
“They are the true leaders during practice,” Darling said. “They set the tone and the rest of the team follows.”
While OA will have a target on its backs after the indoor championships, its first goal is to capture the Davenport Division title outright after sharing the honors with Sharon in 2011. That goal seems more realistic after the Eagles lost several key performers from graduation.
OA helped its own cause Tuesday afternoon at Muscato Stadium with a 94-32 victory over Canton in the team’s first dual-meet of the season. Several athletes, including Daley, who set a personal best in the shotput, and Lievi, who broke the school record in the javelin, held previously by Erica Anderson.
“We had a lot of personal records today,” Darling said about the victory. “Michaela Leivi qualified for the states at 4-feet, 11-inches, and she broke a record set by Erica Anderson in the early 2000’s in the javelin with a throw of 123-feet, 10-inches, breaking Erica’s record of 114. Laura Daley threw a personal best at 38-feet [in the shotput], Emily Grotz looked well in the 400 meters and Candace Steadman did well in the triple jump.
“It was nice to see the young talent and the veterans do very well. It was a good meet to start the season with.”
From the Kelley-Rex division, Franklin and Mansfield pose as OA’s biggest threat atop the Hock, while North Attleboro should also be amongst the top teams.
Boys Look to Stay Atop the Hock.
Like the girls, the OA boys will be eying its second straight (outright) Davenport championship after sweeping through their division rivals last year.
Despite some bumps in the team's 79-57 victory over Canton, coach Jake Sunderland and the Tigers seem to be heading in the right direction.
"It was a little bit of a surprise for the first meet," Sunderlnad said after Tuesday's win. "We didn't know what to expect from them and we came out with a couple of guys that they didn't have in their first meet of the season. We got off to a rough start, but overall we are happy to get the win and we'll go from there."
As seen in that Canton meet, the competition is hard to judge early in the year.
But Sunderland is confident that his team will sustain its status as the small Hock favorites and a contender in the Hock championships.
"It's always tough to tell at the beginning of the season with track. You never know who is coming up from the other sports, but it looks like we should be able to comfortably win the Davenport," Sunderland said. "Hopefully we can continue to be one of the favorites to win the Hock as well."
As usual, OA has a talented bunch to help lead the way, starting with captains Carlton Williamson (sprinting), Drew Beck (distance), Billy Hamilton (throwing) and Nick Blelloch (field). All four participated during the indoor season.
In addition to the senior captains, a trio of freshman, Zach Wyman (middle distance), Billy Nichols (400 meters) and Brandon Boone (long jump) have shown progress in their first season.
For a team who also showed progress this winter, Sunderland hopes the momentum carries forward to the spring.
"We were able to get out a whole new bunch of kids [like the girls] this spring," said Sunderland. "A lot of that was contributed with the success that we had this winter season."
Sunderland, Darling and the rest of the OA Track team(s) return to action Thursday at North Attleboro for a 3:30 p.m. start.