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2014 Downriver League boys' track and field preview PHOTOS

  • Lincoln Park's Robert Atwater (News-Herald File Photo)
  • Roosevelt's Justin Garbin (News-Herald File Photo)
  • Roosevelt's D'Aries Davis (News-Herald File Photo)
  • Roosevelt's Dominic Davis (News-Herald File Photo)
  • Allen Park's Richard Gamble (News-Herald File Photo)
  • Carlson's Marvin Franklin (News-Herald File Photo)
  • Anderson's Anthony Kroll (News-Herald File Photo)
Heading into this season, Roosevelt has won two consecutive Downriver League titles and hasn’t lost a dual meet during that stretch.

The list of accomplishment also includes a 2013 News-Herald Track & Field Championship and a fourth-place finish at the 2013 Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association Team State Meet, which was held in Wyandotte and will be again this year.

Fortunately for Bears Coach Dave Lustig, many of those responsible for that success have returned.

With that in mind, the goals are even loftier this year.

“We were a little shortsighted last season and didn't really accomplish much beyond our area,” Lustig said. “I think our guys recognize that that needs to change this spring… When it's all said and done these guys really want to improve on their fourth-place MITCA Team State effort from last year and then compete at a high level in Rockford at the MHSAA State Finals.”

Helping to lead the way will be junior Dominic Davis, who is back after a huge season that featured a regional championship in the 3,200, as well as N-H and DRL titles and a league meet-record time of 4:31.50 in the 1,600.

Five key seniors returning this season are Danny May, Eric Tyson, Damon Singleton, Brandon Sowards, and D’Aries Davis.

May has won three consecutive 800-meter titles at both the N-H and league meets, while D’Aries Davis was the 2013 N-H champ in the 300 hurdles and Singleton took the league title in the 100 last season.

In relay action last year, May teamed up with Sowards, Tyson and D’Aries Davis for a DRL title in the 4 x 400 and joined Tyson, Sowards and returning sophomore Donnie Corley for an N-H title in the same event.

Also in relays, Dominic Davis, May, Tyson and Corely won league and N-H titles in the 4 x 800 last year and Sowards, Tyson and Singleton were a part of the 4 x 200 team that won N-H and league titles.

Other seniors who should have a big impact in 2014 are Jakob Zanksi (hurdles), Cam Herron (distance), Matt Dube (pole vault), Tommy Cannon (high jump), Jack Youngblood (distance), Dillon Walsh (sprints) and Daryl Crouch (sprints).

Juniors Justin Garbin (hurdles), Greg Schlimmer (throws) and Brent Williams (high jump) will also be looked to for contributions, as will sophomore Andrew Harrison (pole vault).

This season, the Bears are already out to strong start, as they took first place at the Huron Relays, held March 21-22 at Eastern Michigan University.

Next on the schedule for Roosevelt is a league meet Thursday at Trenton.



Woodhaven

As the 2014 campaign gets underway, hopes are high in Woodhaven that the Warriors can give powerhouse Roosevelt a run for its money.

“We are very excited about our upcoming season,” said Coach Mike Dennisuk. “We bring back a strong crew. We hope to challenge Wyandotte for the league and News-Herald titles. We hope to improve upon our seventh-place finish at MITCA Team State last year.”

In the distance events, Dennisuk will look to seniors Cameron Karagitz, Nick Doran and Kevin Tocco, as well as junior Christian DeBlois and sophomores Logan Kleam, Eric Wilkewitz and Pavan Dave.

Kleam and Kargitz were two of the area’s best cross country runners last fall and at the 2013 N-H Track Meet finished second and third, respectively, in the 1,600.

Woodhaven’s group of sprinters will be made up of juniors Niko France, Desmond Jones, LaFranz Hemphill, as well as seniors Matt Jordan, Akiel Bean, Todd Beasly and Matt Dee and sophomore Robert Milton. At last season’s league meet, France finished third in the 100.

Throwers for the Warriors this spring will be junior Robert Duncan and sophomore Trent Madaski and hurdles will be handled by junior Aaron Queen.

In the jumping events, Milton will join senior Matt Jordan and junior Roddie Arline, while the pole vault will be handled by sophomore Caleb Keyes, seniors Kris Childers and Brendan Watson and juniors Steffon Aguis and Eric Brandau.

Woodhaven is scheduled for a league meet Thursday at home against Allen Park.



Anderson

A strong group of returning athletes should make the Anderson Titans a force in the DRL this spring.

“We have a solid core of seniors and juniors with a lot of experience,” said Coach Sam Childs. “This junior class showed a ton of potential at a young age and the coaching staff is excited to see what they will do this season with one more year of physical and mental maturity.”

Two of those juniors are Alex Doherty and Ryan Sander, who will share time in the 800 and 1,600 events.

The 3,200 will be handled by senior Thomas Jozwiak and junior Anthony Kroll, while senior D’asion Love and junior Dillan Steele are back to compete in the 400.

Sprinters this spring for Childs’ squad will be sophomores Christian Thomas and Orgest Shehaj, as well as senior Tyler Knott and junior Juwan Graham.

Set to take on the hurdles are seniors Jacob Brandes and Julian Trueblood, with Brandes also competing in the jumping events, along with Thomas and junior Trey Harris.

Leading the throwers in 2014 will be senior John Barsnack, junior David Patten and sophomore Hunter Angileri.

Competing in the pole vault will be Harris, as well as freshmen Gerti Veizaj and Jacob Spiaser and sophomore Jeremy Turner.

The Titans were scheduled for a league meet at Carlson tomorrow and to compete at the Airport Relays on Saturday.



Trenton

After a second-place finish at last year’s DRL Meet, Trenton Coach Tom Bridges has some experienced athletes back for 2014, but at the same time has several newcomers to work with.

“The team is blessed with a few returning lettermen and quite a few new faces of athletes that have never participated in track,” he said. “I am optimistic and hope that we can be as competitive this year as last year.”

Seniors back for Bridges are Zak Clark (hurdles/sprints), Tyler Dinkins (hurdles/sprints), Keegan Biegalski (distance), Jon Kushner (distance), Brett Navarre (distance) and Josh Berry (throws).

Junior Tyler Butkin (hurdles/jumps) has also returned, along with sophomores Mason Walz (throws) and Carl Olds (sprints).

At the league meet, Biegalski finished third in the 800 and seventh in the 400, while Berry and Walz finished 3-4 in the discus and Berry was fifth in the shot put. At the N-H Meet, Biegalski finished third in the 800, as well.

Also, Biegalski and Kushner earned their way to the 2013 state finals on a 4 x 800 relay team that took second at regionals.

The Trojans were scheduled to welcome in Roosevelt Thurdsday for a dual meet.



Melvindale

Leading the way at Melvindale this season will be senior Anthony Fitzgerald, who was a state finalist last year in the long jump, as well as a champion at both the N-H and league meets.

In addition to the long jump, Cardinals Coach Dave Valkevich said Fitzgerald will be looked to for points in the high jump, sprints and relays.

Sophomore Terrance London is expected to be among be among the DRL’s leaders in the 110 hurdles, Valkevich said, and he will also contribute in the 400 and the 4 x 400.

Another sophomore, Khaled Mousa, will take on distance in the 1,600 and 3,200 and senior Lawrence Barnes looks to be in the mix in the 300 hurdles.

Seniors Antwoine Brown, Tyrod Williams and Malik Boynton will serve as a versatile trio of sprinters for the Melvindale squad. Last season, Williams was part of a 4 x 100 relay team that qualified for the Division 2 state finals.

In the discus, Junior Sam Guerrero looks ready to challenge the league leaders, Valkevich said, while junior Kelton Williams is a talented shot-putter.

Junior Manny Roldan will guide what is a young group of Cards’ pole vaulters this season.

Melvindale was scheduled to participate in the Macomb Community College Indoor Championships tomorrow.



Carlson

This spring, Carlson has some big shoes to fill, as talented athletes Cameron Smith and AC Alfredo have both graduated.

While both were DRL champs a season ago, so was Marvin Franklin, who is back for his junior season and will look to follow up a year in which he earned team MVP honors.

Franklin will compete in the 200 and 400 this season, coming off his 2013 league title in the 400.

Junior Mark Klingel will serve as the Marauders’ top distance runner and will compete in both the 1,600 and 3,200 this year.

Seniors AJ Gary and Jared Henson, along with junior Joe Enwerejobi, will be Carlson Coach Rob Baumstark’s top sprinters for the 2014 campaign.

Making up the trio of top throwers for the Marauders will be seniors Ryan Carlson and Zachary Underwood, along with junior Zachary Moore.

“I like our team right now, but everyone is chasing Wyandotte at this point,” Baumstark said. We can contend in the league if everyone stays healthy.”

Carlson was scheduled to visit Allen Park today and to host Anderson Thursday.



Lincoln Park

After winning a state championship in the high jump last year, Lincoln Park senior Robert Atwater will lead an experienced group of Railsplitters as he goes after the ultimate prize one more time.

Aside from this state title, he also took the high jump crown at the 2013 N-H and DRL meets and finished in second in the pole vault at both meets.

Fellow senior Byron Evans is back after winning the discus title at the N-H Meet and finishing second in the league. Also throwing this year for Coach Tommy Nuttall’s team will be junior Brenden Henderson.

Senior Joe Decoster will compete in the high jump again, following a season in which he finished second to Atwater at the league meet, while senior Jared Edison will also take on the high jump, as well as the hurdles.

Sophomore Dominick Warren will be a hurdler and will run the 800.

Hilbert Banks, a senior, is slated for the 400 and relay events, while sophomore Jacob Gibson will also run the 400 this year and senior Deshawn Tillmon will be a sprinter.

James Rogers will run in the distance events in his senior season, as will sophomore Jose Salgado, while the pole vault will be handled by juniors Quinn Chapman and Kewon Ganaway.

Lincoln Park kicked off its season with the Huron Relays March 21-22 at EMU and had a strong showing, which included Atwater taking first among all high jumpers and Decoster finishing third.

Today, the Rails were scheduled to travel to Melvindale and on Saturday the team is set for the Patriot Relays in Livonia.



Allen Park

While preparing for the new season, Allen Park Coach Tim Collins said he saw some encouraging signs from his team.

“We have a good amount of new kids that look very promising,” he said “We are strong in events to do with jumping, (such as) long, pole, high and hurdles. The two distance relays should have the fastest times I’ve seen in years.”

Leading the way is senior Richard Gamble, who qualified for the state finals in both hurdle events last season and also picked up a title in the 300 hurdles at the league meet.

Senior Jon Miller was third in the high jump at the 2013 league meet and fourth in the 300 hurdles.

Jason Obrycki-Smith will take on distance events in his senior campaign while fellow 12th grader Andy Porter will participate in the throwing events.

Also throwing for the Jaguars in 2014 will be juniors Mitchell Sturm and Tim Durocher.

Other juniors who Collins will look to are Austin Goulasarian, Alec Keaton, Ben Lewis, Colton Clapper and Manny Andrarde. A pair of sophomores expected to contribute are JR Whiteford and Jared Rieden.

This week, Allen Park was scheduled to host Carlson today, travel to Woodhaven today and compete at the Patriot Relays in Livonia on Saturday.



Kennedy

In his seventh season as Kennedy coach, Chad Putman should have more talent to choose from than he has in recent years, as more athletes have come out to join forces with his returners.

“This season we currently have better numbers than we have had in the past few years,” Putman said. “I would like to think that the additional bodies will enable us to be a little more competitive than we have been in previous seasons.”

Juniors Troy Busch and Jacob Muntz are two of Putnam’s returners and they will compete in the 1,600 and 800 events, as will senior Sean Persondek and junior Brennan Dukes.

A pair of throwers back for 2014 is junior Jacob Szczepanski and senior Andrew Wilson, as both will handle the shot put, while Szczepanski will also compete in the discus event.

Junior Jay Hamilton also returns to the Kennedy squad and will run in the 400 and 800 this year.

Newcomers who Putman said look promising are freshman Michael Merwin (sprints/hurdles), junior Ken Rancour (sprints) and Joshua Brown (sprints/jumps).

Kennedy is scheduled to travel to Allen Park on April 10 for a dual meet.

Last Updated: 4/1/2014 3:01:12 PM EST

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