With major graduation losses in the past year, the OTHS boys track team will have to depend on a smaller but talented nucleus of athletes and hope for a boost from new faces on coach Ron Koch’s roster.
Despite fewer proven, veteran athletes, Koch is expecting his Panthers to contend for the SWC title.
A staple of O’Fallon’s track success has come in the distance events and this spring will be no exception.
Assistant track and head cross country coach Jon Burnet will unleash his runners on the track oval where expectations run high that the spring season will be another banner campaign.
All-State cross country runner Dorrian Gordon, who was a state qualifier last spring in the 1,600, will lead a talented pack of distance runners who include seniors Severin Blenkush, Ben Eickmeier, Erik McMillan, Spencer Phillips, Romeo Scagliarini and Logan Whorton; junior Josh Kolb; and sophomore Joey Black. Talent and team depth make this a key ingredient if O’Fallon expects to vie for the conference title.
On the other end of the running spectrum, O’Fallon will return a significant number of their top sprinters.
Michael Robinson, DeMontez McCray, Darryl Cobb, Zach Wells and T.J. Lambert will all be expected to shave time off their personal bests with an eye on adding complementary points to their distance teammates’ totals.
McCray will be expected to provide leadership for the sprinters. He was a state qualifier on the 4x200 relay team last spring—a quartet that finished 10th in the state finals. McCray placed in the top five in all three sprint events in last year’s SWC meet.
O’Fallon will also rely on points being scored by a solid crew of hurdlers. K’Vonte Spearman, Ramon Williamson and Jordan Johnson head the corps returning with varsity experience. T.J. Lambert (triple jump and long jump), Aaron Smith (high jump), Jordan Johnson (high jump) and Tanner Wagner (long jump) are expected to provide points in the jumping events. Sophomores Mason Hewitt and Ricky Shepherd will compete in the pole vault.
The overall success of the OTHS boys’ squad in recent years has been predicated on team depth. This year, the Panthers will need several underclassmen to step up and fill a number of spots in both the track and field events, replacing a host of athletes from 2014 who have been lost to graduation.
Koch believes that enough talent is available to make this another competitive season for the Panther tracksters.