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by Steve Batko
Depth may be a challenge this spring, but Streetsboro returns some talented athletes who should make the boys and girls teams competitive.
Under Tom Fesemyer, who enters his 21st year as the team's head coach, the Rockets will be competing in the County Division of the Portage Trail Conference after battling in the Metro Division a year ago.
Last season, the girls squad finished 4-3 and placed fourth in the Metro behind Kent Roosevelt, Crestwood, and Field.
"For the girls, the County Division is a highly competitive track league," Fesemyer said. "It's always a dogfight. but I see Woodridge and [Ravenna] Southeast battling for a championship with Rootstown and [Garrettsville] Garfield in the mix."
In last year's postseason, Streetsboro girls fared well.
They placed sixth in the Bedford Division II regional championships with heavy hitters like Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (third in Ohio), Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (eighth in the state),and Wooster Triway (14th), plus the likes of Canton South (19th), Pepper Pike Orange (20th), Poland Seminary, Orrville and LaGrange Keystone.
Fesemyer's boys finished 2-5 and fifth in the Metro Division.
Once again in the County, Woodridge remains the team to beat, thanks to its nationally-ranked cross country teams.
"Woodridge has been at the top for years and seems to be the team to beat, while Garfield seems to be in the mix along with Southeast and Rootstown," Fesemyer said.
"Don't overlook Mogadore as well. Our goal is to make a push to be in the running when the dust settles."
While the graduation losses were not heavy from a year ago, Streetsboro did lose some outstanding talent.
Gone from the boys squad is Dorian Williams, who was a state qualifier in the 800-meter relay and was sixth in regionals in the open 400-meter race, where he was a PTC champion.
The girls will miss another versatile athlete in Payton Julian, who is running at Wayne State (Mich.).
Julian placed seventh in Ohio in the 300 hurdles with a school record of 45.75 seconds and was a regional qualifier in the 400 relay (eighth) and in the 800 relay. She also was third in the PTC in the 100 hurdles.
Top returnees for the Streetsboro girls include seniors Destiny King, Marra Woods, Megan Melice, Kailyn Williams and Dana Bindus; junior Madison Westerh and Megan Westerh; and sophomore Delisha McMiller.
King, who is headed to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, will be one the premiere hurdlers in Ohio this spring.
In the Division II state championships, King finished sixth in the 100-meter hurdles.
She had a time of 15.07 in the prelims and was a regional and PTC champion.
In addition, King also is a big threat in the long jump, where she was 10th in Ohio with a leap of 16 feet, 6 inches. King is the school record holder in the long jump at 17-5.5 feet. She also ran in the regional qualifying 400-meter relay and was third in the PTC in the 100-meter dash.
That 400 relay broke a school record in regionals with a 49.98, while the 800 relay also dented the record books at 1:47.34.
"This is one of the smaller [girls] teams we've had in recent years and it may be a challenge to cover all the events," Fesemyer said.
"That being said, we will have some bright spots on the team. We are returning three of four sprinters that ran in the regional meet in both sprint relays."
The 800 relay was ninth at regionals and the Rockets have Delisha McMiller, Melice and Woods on the roster.
Woods, who scored in regionals in the high jump, also ran on the PTC champion 400 relay with McMiller and was a PTC champ in the high jump (5-3).
In the 200, Woods placed fourth in the PTC and had a blazing time of 26.64 in the prelims.
Melice also took seventh in the PTC in the open 800, while Madison Westerh finished seventh in the league in the 3200.
Kailyn Williams also will help in the sprints and relays, while the distance crew is paced by the Westerh sisters, Melice and Bindus.
Top newcomers, according to Fesemyer, are senior Madison Gilliland (distance), junior Ewelina Siwik (distance) and freshmen Savannah Nevels (sprints), Jayana Taylor (sprints), Aajah Chapman (discus) and Autumn Meek (shot put and discus).
"We'll need to find some diamonds in the rough if we're going to compete in this league," Fesemyer said.
For the boys, the top returnees include seniors Paul Jenkins (high jump and hurdles), Parris Burton (sprints), and Nick Fazio (shot put and discus); juniors Prince Franklin (sprints), Tyler Garman (distance), Thomas Benson (shot put and discus), Malik Todd (distance), Dante Tamburro (sprints) and Jake Gould; and sophomore Johnathan Williams (sprints).
The sprinting events have been the Rockets' meal ticket in recent history. That trend will continue.
Franklin and Jonathan Williams are two of the most gifted underclassmen sprinters in the league.
The PTC Metro 100-meter runner up, Franklin raced to a ninth-place finish at the Bedford regional in the 100 and was a regional qualifier in the 800 relay along with Johnathan Williams.
That 800 relay broke a school record with a time of 1:30.54. They also won the PTC 800 relay crown.
Streetsboro's 400 relay reached regionals with Franklin and Johnathan Williams.
In the PTC Metro, the 400 relay was runner-up with Burton, Devin McMiller, Johnathan Williams and Franklin. In open sprints, Franklin was fourth in the 200 in league action.
"The sprint events have carried our team in recent years," Fesemyer said. "For the first time in school history, we advanced the 4x200 [800 relay] team to the state meet last year and look to build on their success this year."
In PTC Metro action from 2013, Jenkins placed second in the high jump (5-10) and sixth in the 110 high hurdles. Benson was fifth in the discus, while Garman ran fifth in 800 and sixth in the 1600.
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Fazio placed seventh in the shot put and Todd was eighth in the 800.
According to Fesemyer, top newcomers for the boys are senior Daniel Sapp (sprints), junior Victor Glass (sprints and jumps) and freshmen Dakari Carter (sprints), Jake Suttel (distance), Alec Bindus (distance), Joe Beaver (distance) and Milton Wilson (shot put and discus).
"We have good numbers for the boys and although we are young in the distance area, there are high expectations for these young runners," Fesemyer said. "Learning to compete will be the key to our success. This may be one of the more balanced teams we have had in recent years."
Fesemyer's assistants are Lauren Macer (who will handle the girls' sprinters), Robb Kidd (boys' sprints), Mark Bindus (distance) and Robert Rogers (shot put and discus).
Both teams are scheduled to make their 2014 debut at the Newton Falls Invitational April 5 at 9 a.m. They are set to visit PTC rival Ravenna April 8 at 4:15 p.m.