Experience, in the form 19 returning lettermen, and depth, with a 28-man roster, has optimism running high as Eric Myers’ sixth Big Walnut squad prepares to launch the 2014 boys track and field season which opens Tuesday, April 1, with Westerville Central at Golden Eagle Stadium
The Golden Eagles posted a 67-32 record last season en route to winning the “Red”Edwards Golden Eagle Relays and the Delaware County Elite Eight Meet. This spring, they have set their sites higher — defending both the “Red” Edwards and Elite Eight titles while winning the Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division crown and placing higher in the Division I Central District Meet.
“Last season was a great learning experience for our young team and, as a result, this year we return 19 letterman and what we believe to be one of our stronger squads over the past few years. Our depth is greatly improved and the kids are excited to get going. Our competition within the team to win spots is outstanding … and that’s a good thing as it helps to make each other better,” said Myers who has a 6-year record of 403-108-1 at Big Walnut. “Our first goals are to repeat as champions of the “Red” Edwards Golden Eagle Relays and the Delaware County Elite Eight Meet, which is never is an easy task. Our second goal is to capture an elusive OCC Capital Division title and then place higher in the Central District meet.”
Big Walnut, in addition to its “Red” Edwards and Elite Eight titles, recorded four top-three finishes last season, placing second behind Westerville South at the Teays Valley Invitational to go with its third-place effort at the OCCs where the Golden Eagles placed third with 81 points behind New Albany (182) and Watkins Memorial (173) at last season’s OCC Capital championships. Olentangy was fourth with 69 followed by Delaware Hayes (52.60), Olentangy Orange (41.50), Mount Vernon (37) and Franklin Heights (25).
Six seniors head up the list of returning lettermen, including John Lankford (sprints), Ben Muench (sprints), Logan Perry (middle distance), Michael Takatch (hurdles/pole vault), Austin Thomas (sprints) and Kaden Thompson (pole vault). Perry returns as a three-year letterman, Thomas and Thompson as two-year letter winners, and Muench, Takatch and Lankford as one-year lettermen.
Returning juniors include two-year lettermen in Jon Kahrmann (middle distance), Bobby Bogantz (middle distance), Christian Johnson (sprints), Cole Stark (hurdles/jumps) and Tyler Martin (sprints) along with one-year letter winners Michael Buckles (middle distance), Joe Muench (middle distance/high jump), Jared Boseker (pole vault), Joey Mazzi (sprints/hurdles), Anthony Pavuk (sprints/pole vault), Adrian Thomas (throws) and Jacob Thompson (middle distance). Matt Brockway (sprints) was the lone sophomore to letter last season.
Five of the returning veterans earned postseason team recognition last season. Stark was the recipient of the High Point Award, Buckles the Most Improved Award, Joe Muench the Rookie of The Year Award), Bogantz the Coaches Award and Johnson the Leadership Award. Muench was a Third Team honoree in the 800 meters.
Four returnees earned All-OCC recognition, including Second Team honorees Perry, Bogantz, Buckles and Joe Muench in the 4x800-meter relay. Muench earned Third Team recognition in the 800 meters.
Lost to graduation were Cameron Ahmed, AJ Barber, Cody Conley, Brandyn Wright and Brant Weiss. Ahmed was presented with the coveted Golden Eagle Award for academic and athletic achievements. Weiss was named to the OCC Second Team in the discus as a Division I Regional qualifier in the discus.
Newcomers to the Golden Eagle squad include seniors Jack Brown (throws), Tanner Conaway (distance), Austin Crow (throws), Austin Hale (throws) and Joel Windle (sprints); juniors Justin Beyer (throws) and Alec Evans (sprints/hurdles); and sophomores Ethan Hale (throws) and Isaac Lucas (sprints/jumps).
Myers will be assisted by Joe Weaver (throws), Gary Brandon (distances), Mike Ryder (jumps) and Edwards (hurdles).
Myers is counting on Big Walnut’s improved experience and depth to be a key factor for the Golden Eagles.
“Our experience and depth are much improved this season. We return a number of our leading scorers from a year ago and a large number of our athletes competed at big meets last year,” he said.”We have a nice stable of jumpers, both in the long jump and high jump. Three of our four top hurdlers return from a season ago and we have a very solid core of middle distance guys who will anchor the team. A key for us will be to develop more depth in the longer distance races.”
Myers’ keys to the Golden Eagles’ success in 2014?
Our number one key is to stay healthy. We have placed an emphasis on taking care of our bodies on a daily basis with the goal of everyone being ready for the league meet when May rolls around,” he said. “We believe this could be an exciting season for us and that we will be greatly improved from our 67-32 record from a year ago.”
Myers will be assisted by veteran coaches Joe Weaver (throws), Gary Brandon (distances), Mike Ryder (jumps) and “Red” Edwards (hurdles).