Vikings prep for winter track and field

CAMBRIDGE – It doesn’t take this bunch long to get up to speed.

Cambridge-South Dorchester High School’s indoor track and field team is taking shape, as the runners, jumpers and throwers polish their skills for the 2017-18 winter campaign.

All indoor high school track and field meets in central Delmarva take place at the Worcester County Recreation Center, Snow Hill High School’s home venue. The season features nine regular meets, not including the post season. The first is set for Dec. 6.

“I think it’s going to be another exciting year,” Boys’ Head Coach John Shaw said, as about a dozen athletes practiced their pole vault technique nearby.

Last year, a years-old dream of local track and fielders came true, when plans – and donated money – all came together, and the school approved a winter team. C-SD has had a spring, or outdoor, track and field team for six seasons.

Last year, the Vikings and their unfamiliar uniforms raised a few eyebrows in the recreation center, crowded with about 20 teams from as far north as Smyrna, Delaware, and as far south as the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

“The word at the meets was, ‘Who’s that team with the V?’” Coach Shaw said.

Well, now they know.

The Vikes did well in regular-season competition, even as they learned the differences between indoor and outdoor competition, such as the different distances of races and sharper turns on the smaller track.

It turned out fine, though, as C-SD qualified athletes in running, jumping and throwing in regional championships and came home with state championships in the men’s 800-meter relay (Matt Koletsky, Carson Taylor, Connor McCroy and Trevor Goodwin), and the men’s 800-meter individual (Matt Koletsky).

Of those champs, Koletsky, Taylor and Goodwin graduated in May, so it looks like McCroy will be leading the pack this season. But he’ll have some solid support.

“We have a lot of new faces,” Coach Shaw said, noting that the team so far is composed mostly of sophomores and juniors.

As for shot put – there is no discus in winter track and field – the Vikings will be led by veteran strength athletes Ike Foreman, Zach Ridgely, Jakob Hughes and Mackenzie Freeman. A promising crop of freshmen is showing the speed and coordination necessary for this event, boding well for the future of the program.

Pole vault might be the most eccentric of all the events in track and field, but that doesn’t hold back this high-spirited group. About a dozen jumpers have already turned out to practice in this, Coach Shaw’s specialty. The high jump pit is also seeing plenty of action, with springy students including Dante Meekins and Kavon Williams showing how it’s done.

Running isn’t getting any less challenging. The increasing popularity of track and field and its sister sport, cross country, is resulting in improved talent across the board.

“Cross country competition was stout,” Coach Shaw said of the fall sport, noting that while Connor McCroy ran the 5-kilometer course at the state championships 19 seconds faster this year than last year, he placed 17th, three spots lower.

Sprinters look solid, with speedsters including Janee’ Quailes and Ronke’ Oyerinde leading the women, and Tekhi Seymore coming over from fall football.

The Vikings also have gained a hurdle specialist in girls’ Head Coach Gabrielle Gombos, an English and creative writing teacher at the school.
Coach Gombos is using the sport to assist her in boosting the students’ academic performance. “I wanted a way to build relationships outside of the classroom,” she said, to help guide the athletes to success in their studies.

She sees an openness to coaching that gives her an optimistic view of the season. “I think we have a lot of kids who are willing to learn new things,” she said.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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