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Boys track and field previews: Veteran-rookie mix has Downers South on inside track for WSG

Downers Grove North has strength in distance events, Westmont welcomes back all-state sprinter Tim Doll.

Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013 3:00 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 10:00 p.m. CDT

The goal for track and field athletes is to compete at the state meet. Those goals are already in motion as the gun has gone off on the 2013 outdoor season.

Downers Grove South

Coach: Dustin Hausherr

Top returners:

Jacob Amiri, jr., (distance)

Paul Engo, jr., (jumps)

Luke Lathrop, sr., (throws)

Jalen Lewis, sr., (hurdles)

Odell McFarland, sr., (sprints)

What to watch: Most coaches take the one-day-at-a-time approach with their athletes, but Dustin Hausherr is already looking ahead to the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend — the final day of the season. He has a mix of upperclassmen and newcomers that could all be competing at the state finals.

Odell McFarland recently finished second in the 200-meter dash at the indoor state meet. Jacob Amiri was 10th in the 800-meter run. Jalen Lewis claimed both the high and low hurdles titles at the West Suburban Gold indoor meet, while Paul Engo was the high jump champ at the conference meet. Those upperclassmen will be leaned upon for leadership as a crop of newcomers adjusts at the varsity level.

“We will have a handful of freshmen athletes contributing at the varsity level this year,” Hausherr said. “Our expectations are to compete for a conference championship every year, and we will have a good shot at the WSC Gold championship if we continue to work hard.”

The Bud Mohns invite Saturday, April 13 and the Bob Cohoon invite Friday, April 19 will be run at home; the Wanner invite at Prospect Friday, April 26 comes two weeks before the WSG outdoor and will help the Mustangs gauge their progress. The overall goal is clear.

“Our goal is to get as many athletes as possible to (state) and score some points while we are down there,” Hausherr said.

Downers Grove North

Coach: Eric Buhot

Top returners:

Vontae Diggs, jr., (sprints)

Ben Eaton, sr., (distance)

Kyle Leto, jr., (sprints)

Steve Kanis, sr., (jumps)

Zack Smith, jr., (distance)

Tony Zea, jr., (middle distance)

What to watch: Always a presence in the distance races during the postseason, the Trojans look to continue that tradition this spring.

Zack Smith won a title in the 1,600-meter run at the West Suburban Silver indoor meet, Tony Zea was third in the 800 and Ben Eaton was third in the 3,200. The conference typically produces some of the best distance runners in the state each year. Smith has big-meet experience after finishing eighth at the cross country state meet in the fall.

North’s strength in the distance events could be countered by equal strength in sprints with Kyle Leto and Vontae Diggs. Jumper Steve Kanis could help the Trojans earn invite points in field events.

Westmont

Coach: Rainy Kaplan

Top returners:

Anthony Alessi, so., (distance)

Nick Dea, so., (distance)

Tim Doll, jr., (sprints)

Danny LoGiurato, jr., (middle distance)

David McDermott, sr., (throws)

Joseph McDermott, jr., (pole vault)

Nate Novota, sr., (distance)

Kris Pierce, sr., (jumps)

Michael Robertson, sr., (hurdles, pole vault)

What to watch: The Sentinels finished second at the Reed-Custer invite March 16. A second-place finish wouldn’t always be something to write home about, but head coach Rainy Kaplan was enthusiastic about that finish for another reason.

“In years where we finish in the top three at Reed-Custer, we do extremely well the entire season,” she said.

The team broke six indoor school records during this winter, including Kris Pierce with a mark of 39 feet, 4.5 inches in the triple jump. Tim Doll, second in the state in the 400-meter dash last spring, is back, as are seven other state qualifiers. Nate Novota ran in the 3,200 at last year’s state finals.

“I think this is one of the strongest teams we have ever had in the history of our school,” Kaplan said. “We are well-rounded, with no holes in our lineup. The talent is definitely with us this season.”

Westmont will be paired with defending state champion Leo in the sectional meet. The Sentinels’ goal is to top them en route to a strong state meet showing.

“We are setting our sights on them this year,” Kaplan said. “We think we have the depth to give them a run for their money and take the sectional title.”

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