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The Shelby County track & field teams return one state champion as well as an ample amount of athletes from squads that finished in the top five in the region.
The boys, led by eventual 300-meter hurdle state champ Zach Shipley, placed fourth at the Class AA, Region 3 meet last year.
“We’re looking pretty decent on the track, but in the field we’re kind of young,” Rockets Coach Nick Edwards said.
The Shelby girls finished fifth at the region last season, and Edwards said, they could contend for a spot in the top three this spring.
Shipley not boys’ only star
Shipley won the 300 hurdles in 39.41 seconds at last year’s state meet.
“He’s looking to improve on what he did last year,” Edwards said. “It’ll probably take something in the thirty-eights to win it this year.”
Shipley’s classmate, Michael Barry, should contend for the state title in the 110 hurdles. He won the 60 hurdles event in the Mason-Dixon Games earlier this month after only one practice. He also will compete in the pole vault (for which the field at Robert Doyle Stadium is now equipped).
Those two also will return to team up with senior Stuart Orange and sophomore Jacob Gowin in the 1,600 relay (that foursome finished 11th at the state meet).
“They have the potential to place really high,” Edwards said.
Orange, who finished fourth at the state in the 800 as a sophomore then narrowly missed qualifying for state in that event last spring, is dropping down to the 400 this season.
He also will join Barry in the pole vault, and Gowin should be the team’s top high jumper.
Senior sprinter Chase Manica is also back. He is one of three (Barry and Shipley are the others) returning from the Rockets’ 400 and 800 relay teams (they finished fifth and 13th, respectively, at the state meet).
Senior Logan Hull will lead Shelby’s distance contingent.
“He ended the season pretty well last year. Hopefully he can build on that,” Edwards said.
Edwards is also hoping to build up his field events, which were hit hard by graduation.
Senior Deric Hyman and sophomore Garrett Perry will lead the Rockets in the throwing event, while several will try the long and triple jumps.
Almost all girls back
The Rockets return almost everyone from last season.
“The strongest part of girls’ team is our throwers,” Edwards said.
Senior Jamie Bradley, the defending region champ in the discus and shot put (she was 11th and 15th, respectively, in those events at state), leads the way there. She finished second in the shot put at the Mason-Dixon Games earlier this month.
“She has a shot at winning the state title in the discus, that’s our goal for her,” Edwards said.
Senior Samantha Orange will compete in the pole vault.
Another of the Rockets’ strengths will be their relays. Seniors Abby Siegel and Gina Stanula, junior Kate Schaefer, sophomore Cali Mills and freshman Madison Todd will lead the way there. Siegel, Stanula, Mills and Schaefer were third in the 800 relay at the Mason-Dixon Games. Siegel, Todd, Mills and Schaefer were 14th in that event at state last year.
Shelby’s distance group will be led by senior Taylor Webb and sophomore Kayce Byrnside, both of whom are battling injuries. Webb, who has committed to Bellarmine University, was fifth in the 3,200 as a sophomore and 13th last season.
“The key with our distance girls is staying healthy,” Edwards said.
The Rockets open the season Tuesday in their all-comers meet.
Shelby County at a glance
Coach: Nick Edwards.
Michael Barry (senior); Chris Brown (senior); Zach Brown (senior); Hoyt Everson (senior); Logan Hull (senior); Deric Hyman (senior); Chase Manica (senior); Stuart Orange (senior); Eduardo Sandoval (senior); Zach Shipley (senior); Alex Dunn (junior); Shane Hart (junior); Michael Ingram (junior); Tevin Taylor (junior); Dalton Thompson (junior); Greg Abarientos (sophomore); Destry Aldridge (sophomore); Trey Biram (sophomore); Tanner Bryant (sophomore); Mason Daugherty (sophomore); Bobby Desmond (sophomore); Michael Gollar (sophomore); Alex Goodwin (sophomore); Jacob Gowin (sophomore); Breamon Harris (sophomore); Tristan King (sophomore); Cody Ledford (sophomore); Mikah Mattingly (sophomore); Michael Metts (sophomore); Garrett Perry (sophomore); Earl Stoudemire (sophomore); Justin Sturgeon (sophomore); Cameron Weeks (sophomore); Britton Woolwine (sophomore); Luke Brown (freshman); Jack Daugherty (freshman); Ben Greenwell (freshman); Ethan Patterson (freshman); Michael Perry (freshman); Clayton Tyler (freshman).
Jamie Bradley (senior); Samantha Orange (senior); Abby Siegel (senior); Gina Stanula (senior); Taylor Webb (senior); Kate Schaefer (junior); Nikki Simmons (junior); Lauren Wilms (junior); Kayce Byrnside (sophomore); Olivia Matlin (sophomore); Cali Mills (sophomore); Claire Schaefer (sophomore); Alexis Shepard (sophomore); Autumn Wall (sophomore); Lauren DeEsch (freshman); Justus Martin (freshman); Alivia Smith (freshman); Madison Todd (freshman); Suzanne Gayle (8th).
19 – ALL-COMERS; 23 – at Western Hills’ Wolverine Open; 26 – ALL-COMERS; 30 – Lenny Lyles Invitational at Central.
13 – at Male Invitational; 20 – Heart of the Bluegrass at the University of Kentucky; 26-27 – Eastern Relays at the University of Louisville.
2 – Sundown Invitational at Oldham County