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DLN SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW: Boys Track & Field

After enjoying a banner spring 2019 season in which it captured the PIAA District 1 Class 3A boys track championship and finished runner-up in the state meet, Coatesville – like all of the other Chester County high schools – did not compete last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This spring, the Red Raiders feature a youthful squad anchored by several athletes who enjoyed promising 2019 seasons.

“We are a very young team, led by seven seniors,” said Coatesville boys coach Damien Henry. “Our coaching staff looks forward to building a competitive team and developing our young talent throughout the season.”

The Red Raiders have a couple of senior standouts in shot putter Ian London and long jumper Kieran Morse. London hurled the shot 41-09.75 in the spring of 2019, and 45-00.75 in the 2020 indoor season. Morse long jumped 22-1.25 in the spring of 2019, and was fourth at the Ches-Mont Championship.

Coatesville also features a couple of fine junior runners in Dave Kelly, who ran 2:01.45 in the 800-meter run in the 2020 indoor season; and Lebron Bessick, who in the spring of 2019 ran 11.17 in the 100-meter dash and placed eighth at the Ches-Mont Championship, and ran 22.49 in the 200-meter dash and finished fourth in the Ches-Mont Championship.

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Here’s an early-season look at how the rest of the Ches-Mont League high school boys track & field teams shape up this spring:

Avon Grove

The Red Devils have a couple of strong senior runners in Benny Clark and Dan Kozel. Clark was a state qualifier in cross country in 2019. Kozel, who won most of the sprinting events he competed in this past winter at the Henderson Polar Bear meets, is the Red Devils’ top sprinter.

Bishop Shanahan

The Eagles start the 2021 season with one of their youngest teams in recent memory. With only four returning seniors, Shanahan will look to its underclassmen to do a bit of the heavy lifting. Senior Noel Doherty is one upperclassman looking to break through in the hurdles. In the long jump, junior Arie van der Steuer is eager to show off the form he developed over the extended hiatus, while junior Aiden Shannon aims to work into contention in a field of talented Ches-Mont milers. Sophomores Adam Shirker and Matthew Carpenter are showing early season speed in the long sprints and hope to join senior Michael Hughes as a competitive 400 meter runner.

Downingtown East

The Cougars have a couple of experienced sprinters in Joey Hennessy (400 meter run, 200 meter run) and Shiv Kamaran (100 meter run, 200 meter run).

Downingtown East also has an experienced, rising core of distance runners this spring, led by seniors Aaron Scavuzzo and Jake Lawson as well as juniors Caiden Leen and Brendan Flynn.

D-East distance coach Austin Tobelmann said, “They are looking to push into the postseason and spark the team to be competitive as a whole.”

Downingtown West

The Whippets are a youthful squad that will be looking to make its mark this spring. Leading the way for D-West this spring should be junior Elijah Ford (400 meter run) and senior Vince Schetroma (long jump, triple jump).

Great Valley

The Patriots have a couple of returning distance runners in seniors Michael Search and Matthew Dietrick (1600 meter run, 3200 meter run). Both were state qualifiers in cross country last fall and posted strong 3K performances in Polar Bear meets this past winter. Dietrick will be continuing his career at Dickinson College. Junior Jake Zielinski had a break out winter season with strong Polar Bear performances in the 400 meter run and 800 meter run, and should be in the mix to be a district qualifier this spring.

Kennett

Kennett track coach John Ramagano noted, “This year the numbers for our track & field team are a bit down. We will have rostered 43 boys, all looking forward to having a season. The team will only have 10 seniors in the program [boys and girls combined].”

One key returning Blue Demon is senior runner Gavin Maxwell, who in 2019 qualified for Districts in the 800 meter run, 1600 meter run and 3200 meter run. He hopes to accomplish the same in 2021. He also would like to help the 4×800 relay team (which includes senior Rio King, junior Jesse Comanda and junior Logan Piercy) qualify for Districts.

Oxford

The Hornets have some solid returning seniors to watch this spring – Taj Janier in the mile run, Gavin Fitzgerald (mile run), Dan Cox (400 meter run) and Bryan Brennemen (shot put).

Unionville

The Longhorns have a variety of good athletes this spring, including pole vaulter Jack Miles (vaulted 15-2 last winter, for the top mark in Pennsylvania); Sam Elsen (has state meet aspirations, most likely in the 800 meter run); Ethan McIntyre (a two-time cross country state medalist who ran 4:22.35 in the 1600 meter run as a sophomore); senior Jarrett Conway (distance leader); junior Justin White (posted 39-2 in the triple jump as a freshman); and junior sprinter Sam Otieno.

West Chester East

The Vikings will be led by seniors Tyler Pachuda (distance runs) and Conor Quinn (distance runs), juniors Matthew Bergin (high jump/long jump/triple jump), David Keith (sprints/hurdles) and Neil DiFonzo (sprints), and sophomore Mitchell Ragni (sprints).

West Chester Henderson

The Warriors have some fine runners in junior Gavin Brophy, sophomore Preston Lubeski and senior Aaron Newell. Brophy posted a time of 1:59 in the 800 meter run as a freshman, and last winter set the Polar Bear Parking Lot Meet record for the 800 meter run. Lubeski finished second in the 200 meter run at the recently-completed Polar Bear Championships, where he also placed sixth in the 400 meter run. Newell finished sixth in the 200 meter run at the Polar Bear Championships.

West Chester Rustin

The Golden Knights have a solid core of seniors, including sprinter Drew Gallen, thrower John Shallo, sprinter Travis Riley, jumper Kevin Freas, and distance runners Elisha Stigora and Jimmy Coates.

Gallen, who is committed to Penn State for track, ran 10.86 (100 meters), 22.11 (200 meters) and 51.96 (400 meters) last summer. He suffered a torn ACL last fall but according to coach Shaz Brown might be able to compete in the 100 meter run by May.

Shallo, a Bloomsburg University football commit who throws the shot put and discus, is a district level shot putter who is expected to throw in the 47-50 feet range this spring.

Riley, who is headed to Widener University for football, is expected to be a key contributor in the 100 meter run, 200 meter run and 4×100 relay.

Freas, who is headed to Delaware Valley University for football, competes in the long jump, triple jump and 4×100 relay. Brown said, “Kevin has been one of our top jumpers since his freshman year and will be a potential district qualifier in the triple jump.”

Stigora, who will be competing in cross country and track for Kutztown University starting next fall, is expected to contribute in the 800 meter run, 1600 meter run and 4×800 relay this spring for the Golden Knights. Brown said, “Elisha is one of the top distance runners in the Ches-Mont American. He will look to compete for a district qualifying mark in the 1600 with an indoor PR of 4:47.”

Coates, a team captain, should be a key contributor in the 4×800 relay and the 800 meter run.

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Here’s an early-season look at how the other Chester County high school boys track & field teams shape up this spring:

Conestoga

The Pioneers have four good runners in senior Ben Horner, senior Charlie Miller, senior Henry Miller and junior Vicente Pena.

Horner, who is committed to run for Colgate University, competes in the 1600 meter run and 800 meter run. He posted a time of 4:35.40 in the mile run at the Adidas Indoor National meet in Virginia Beach, Va. Feb. 26. In January of 2020, he posted a clocking of 1:59.92 in the 800 meter run, which ranked 30th in the state of Pennsylvania and fourth in the Central League.

Charlie Miller, who competes in the 3200 meter run and 1600 meter run, won the Central League cross country championships last fall (16:38.9 for 5K). He posted a time of 9:20.22 in the 3000 meter run during the winter of 2020, which was the seventh-fastest time in the Central League.

Henry Miller, who has committed to run for the University of Vermont, competes in the 200 meter run and 400 meter run for the Pioneers. He was a 2019 PTFCA Indoor State Championship individual qualifier in the 200 meter run. His best times are 22.59 (200 meter) and 51.38 (400 meter).

Pena, who competes in the 3200 meter run and 1600 meter run, posted a time of 9:55.46 for Two Miles at the Adidas Indoor National meet in Virginia Beach, Va. Feb. 26.

Devon Prep

The Tide have a couple of fine athletes in junior Tommy Walk (shot, discus and javelin), who won the javelin event at the Catholic League freshmen clinic in 2019, and junior Keaton Rush, (1600 meter run and 3200 meter run), who finished first in the PIAA Class AA District 12 cross country championships last fall.

Malvern Prep

The Friars have a variety of solid performers this spring, the most versatile among them senior Ryan Rosenberger, who competes in the 110 meter hurdles (best mark 15.2), 300 meter intermediate hurdles (41.0), long jump (22’ 8.75”) and 400 meter run (51.5).

Another versatile performer is junior D’Angelo Stocker, who competes in the 100 meter run (10.6), 200 meter run (22.2), 400 meter run (52.8) and high jump (5’ 10”).

Senior Collin Hess is a solid distance runner (1600 meter run PR 4:31), 3200 meter run PR 9:43), while junior Max Robinson will compete in the pole vault (13’ 6”) and senior Christian Curatolo throws the shot put (46’ 9”).

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