Fairfield High School track coach Deb Mangus and her husband, volunteer assistant coach Bill Mangus, both agreed the Lions track team is set for a successful year.
“We didn’t graduate that many last year, so we have a strong returning group,” Deb Mangus said.
The team sent several relay teams to regionals last season, Mangus said, and the 4 x 800 relay team earned a slot in the state meet, with all the performers who ran in the 4 x 800 returning this season — senior Trent Slisher, juniors Matthew Mangus and Noah Richmond, and sophomore Branston Duffy.
“As individuals, too, we expect great things out of them,” she said.
Individually, Richmond and Mangus competed in regionals last year in the 1600 and 3200. Duffy and Slisher both qualified in the 800, while Davis competed in the 1600, all on the regional level.
Senior Wyatt Evans, junior Nick Price and sophomores Bennett Hodson and Wyatt Fent were all regional qualifiers in relay events.
Bill Mangus, cross-country coach and volunteer assistant track coach, said almost all the competitors on the cross country team also do track, which contributed to the track team’s success last season when they won the conference championship title.
“We expect to compete for the conference championship again this year,” he said.
The Fairfield cross country team is fourth in the state, he added, and has qualified for regionals for four consecutive years with a lot of the same team members.
“No question, we’re talented at distance and relays,” Bill Mangus said. “I expect we’ll have nine runners who can break a nine-minute 1600 and five-minute mile.”
As for speed, senior sprinters Devin Haines and Dustin Huff will provide leadership to a freshman and sophomore base who are looking promising in sprints.
“The underclassmen on the boys side seem to be catching on to sprints pretty quickly,” Deb Mangus said. “We’re looking forward to getting some good times on them for the first meet.”
In addition to the cross-country team’s success, Bill Mangus said the track team had several boys and girls competitors qualify for the state meet in indoor track. Deb and Bill Mangus both agreed that will give the team valuable momentum coming into the outdoor season.
Rosey Bates, who coaches boys and girls field events for Fairfield, said the throwers on the team show promise – particularly juniors Blake Adams and Trinity Huff. Bates said several underclassmen will also hit the field in girls throwing events. On the boys end, juniors Tyce Smith and Tyler Barton return to the field for throwing, while Michael Mason enters as a key newcomer this season.
Kesia McCoy, who coaches the girls on the team, said she’s excited to see what happens this year with 16 new athletes – 13 of whom are freshmen.
“Those freshmen have been really nice because they were with me in junior high,” she said. “We were SHAC champions the last two years in a row, so it’ll be nice to have them join the seasoned athletes we already have.”
One senior, Haleigh Bates, will run distance events.
On the junior roster, Ciara Knisley will do high jump and middle-distance events; Dakota Haynes will perform two-miles and sprints to bring a well-rounded approach; Grace Shope will run distance; and Chloe Barber will run middle-distance and relays.
Ciara Colwell is a key newcomer to the varsity program this season in distance events, McCoy said.
“I’m excited for a pretty good year,” she said. “We’re still a young team, but all the freshmen are definitely going to add something this year. They’ve had a lot of success in the past and they’re really well-rounded. Every one of those freshmen will find a place on the team this year.”
All the coaching staff agreed having a track at Fairfield High School has been tremendously beneficial to the track team.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.