Even with a young roster last year, West Salem’s track and field team still finished second in both the boys and girls standings at their district meet and brought a good amount of athletes to the 6A state meet. Now with many impact athletes returning, the Titans hope to continue to raise the bar as they embark on a new season.
“We had a pretty young team and were inexperienced in a lot of cases, especially in our sprinters,” said head coach Erich Herber. “And even our distance kids were a lot of juniors ... they hadn’t really been on the big stage yet. So getting to bring some kids to the state meet was a very valuable experience. We bring back a couple of state placers so that’s fantastic.”
Junior Mihaly Akpamgbo leads the Titans boys in the sprinting events and is a returning conference champion in the 100m just like his counterpart Olivia Jolivette who also has a 100m league crown under her belt. In the distance events Brady Bliven, Jack Meier, Logan Schwartz and Isaac McDonald will look to lead the pack while Matthew Nivala and Hudson Whipple hope to climb the standings in the hurdles.
On top of her first place finish in the 100m, Jolivette also qualified for state in the 200m with a second place finish at the district meet. Sophomore Sophia Johnson made both the 100m and 200m district finals as a freshman and hopes to climb the rankings in both of those events. Sophomore Gitte Lonigan and freshman Avery Meier will pace the pack for the girls distance team. The girls team also brings back all members of their 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams while the boys bring back all but one member of their 4x100m relay team.
“We have some pretty decent depth,” said Herber. “When you have good numbers it helps you be able to find things. Our relay teams should be very competitive and possibly compete at the state level. So it should be a lot of fun on the boys and girls side.”
The Titans travel to Sprague for an icebreaker on March 22 with the first field events scheduled to start at 4 p.m. and track events starting at 4:30 p.m.
“I’m just excited to see how the kids perform,” said Herber. “I’m excited to see how the kids have progressed mentally. And with our dual meets I’m excited to get as many kids as possible some opportunities to compete and with that we have a few big meets on the schedule. Which will be nice to give everyone a taste of the competition outside of Salem and compete with some really good teams.”
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