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Junior Maddie Costello and the Valley Regional girls’ track team were looking primed for a big leap in 2020 thanks to a plethora of talented athletes returning from the year prior. Costello had already earned points at the Class M State Championship in the high jump as a sophomore. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior Andrew Ferguson was slated to compete in the 4x100-meter relay along with the 100-meter and 200-meter dash this season. Last year, Ferguson was part of a school record-setting quartet in the 4x100. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Sophomore Ava Cunningham was ready to be a part of a deep distance unit for the Warriors this spring. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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The Valley Regional boys’ and girls’ outdoor track teams had solid campaigns in 2019. The boys’ squad recorded a fourth-place finish at the Shoreline Conference Championship meet and a seventh-place mark at the Class M State Championship. The girls’ squad came away with sixth place at the Shoreline meet and sent a handful of competitors to the Class M championship. In 2020, both programs were looking to take significant steps toward improvement. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has resulted in a nixed the spring campaign, but there is hope with plenty of young and talented athletes still eligible to compete come next season.
Head Coach Tim King had been looking forward to see what the Warriors would bring in 2020. He was expecting some especially good performances on the boys’ side in a number of events, but he expected the girls’ team to make major advancements in the post season due to its depth.
“For the boys, we were going to have a pretty balanced team. We didn’t have a lot of depth, but we were going to have bright spots in a few events,” said King. “Track always comes down to depth, especially at the Shoreline meet, because they score the top-eight places. The numbers are so important to do well there. The boys were going to be competitive in the meets, we were just hoping to develop some depth.”
Coach King anticipated that the girls’ team would have little trouble finding that essential depth, most notably in the sprinting and jumping events. Valley girls’ Head Coach Chris Allegretti had plenty of athletic competitors at his disposal when it came to filling a meet’s 17 events.
“This was going to be a killer year for the girls. They were loaded. This was going to be one of their strongest years I could remember,” said Coach King. “Chris was going to have to spread the kids out because we had quite a few sprinters and jumpers. He was going to figure out some other events to score more points here and there.”
One of last year’s high points was Valley’s boys’ 4x100-meter relay team, which set a school-record mark of 43.75 seconds. Two of those record-setting runners, seniors Andrew Ferguson and Arick Outama, were slated with a hunger to clock more outstanding times. Ferguson was also a capable jumper alongside fellow senior Ryan Shasha, who placed first in the high jump at states with a height of six feet.
“Andrew Ferguson had a great indoor season and was looking forward to running outdoor. He was excited about the season, and I’m disappointed for him. I think we were strong with Andrew and Ryan Shasha in some of the jumps. Ryan was state champ in the high jump,” said King. “Arick Outama was running the 400 and the 4x100. He was our third leg in the 4x100 the year before last as a sophomore, and we were going to bounce him around in some other events, too.”
An impressive thing about the 2019 girls’ squad was that it featured no seniors. This year, the Warriors would have returned the entire team a year older and with an influx of freshmen. On the other hand, a good portion Valley’s athletes were depending on for points this year would have been seniors.
Jenifer Caulfield would have been the Warriors’ top throwers, specifically in javelin. She had already posted impressive tosses with a 10th-place finish at states last year. King hoped that she would be joined by other athletes though, since the girls’ throwing program was a bit thin.
“Caulfield was going to be a terrific thrower. She could throw over 100 feet in javelin. We were hoping she could score a bit in the discus and shot put, as well,” King said. “For the girls, I think that we’ve been light in throwing besides Jen. There are three throwing events, and that’s quite a few. Three out of 17 events. That’s one-sixth of your potential scoring.”
The boys’ team had strong representation in distance runners with senior Macklin Miezejeski and junior Egan Rothrock. Both runners had already proven themselves capable over the long haul, and Coach King had hoped that they would take another stride forward.
“Mack came on strong last year, and he had a great finish at Shorelines. He also ran really well with the cross country team,” King said. “We also had a lot of young kids like Egan Rothrock, who was only a sophomore last year, and he ran extremely for us well toward the end of year, as well.”
Another standout performer for the girls was slated to be junior Maddie Costello who competed in several events for Valley last year. Coach King knew that the Warriors could depend on Costello to do anything that was asked of her.
“Maddie Costello was going to be in four events and possibly score in all four of them,” said King. “High jump, hurdles, she ran the relay, there was nothing she couldn’t do. Our relay was right on the verge of winning it last year at Shorelines.”
Coach King was especially looking forward to seeing senior Brian Rankin compete. King coached Rankin as a member of the Warriors’ football squad, and Rankin had to spend time sidelined due to injury. On top of that, Rankin was a member of Valley boys’ basketball team, which had its state title hopes dashed with the cancellation of the Division V Tournament. Coach King had hoped Rankin would have at least had track to end the year on a higher note.
“Brian Rankin was looking to come on with a great spring. He was also on the basketball team, and he lost out on those playoffs. Last year, we kind of concentrated on the sprints for him. We were going to try the 400 for him and wanted to get him on a 4x400 relay,” said King. “He was open to doing different events because he wants to run in college. There they may move him into the 200, the 400, or the 800 there.”
The girls were also primed to make a mark with their distance running, and one of their expected top runners would have been sophomore Ava Cunningham. Cunningham was also part of a 4x800 quartet that included senior Sam Calamari, as well as sophomores Grace Jacaruso and Bitzy Klomp. Mid- to long-distance running was sure to be solid for Valley.
“Grace was going to definitely contribute points,” said Coach King. “That whole group in the distance with Ava and some of the other underclassmen were so strong. The distance was going to be really strong for us this year.”
With the spring season gone, Coach King is focused on the potential fall football season, while still trying to send info to his track athletes to help them stay in shape while hunkered down in self-isolation. There are lot of track athletes who crossover in multiple sports, and King has always believed that running track can huge advantage for them.
“Basically, I’ve been sending a some e-mails and touching base. With the football and track kids, we’ve sent out videos to stay in shape. We’ve told them to do some workouts using bodyweight. We talk about push-ups and sit-ups. Sprinters can do some hill work, stairs, and stuff like that but kids don’t have starting blocks,” King said. “We have quite a bit of cross over between track and football. It’s amazing how track helps in other stuff besides football. The track season you really learn to run. There’s a difference between being fast and knowing how to run.”
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