WHEELING-Two-time West Virginia Class AAA high jump champion Errin Baynes returns for his senior season, hoping to lead the Wheeling Park boys' track team to a ninth straight Ohio Valley Athletic Conference title and an 11th straight Region One crown.
Baynes, headed to the University of Southern California on a track scholarship next fall,was captain of the All-Valley track team after winning both the high jump (6-foot-4) and long jump (21-9) titles during the 2011 state meet in Charleston.
He burst on the area track season with several unbelievable feats while competing for the first time as a sophomore in 2010, winning the Class AAA high jump by sailing over the bar at 6-10 after an eye-popping effort of 7-.25, earlier that spring at the Mars (PA) Invitational.
Teammate Kody Geisel, also a senior, placed second to Baynes in the high jump at the state meet with a fine 6-2 effort.
Coach Chris Daugherty feels the Patriots are capable of contending for Region and OVAC laurels despite the graduation of eight key contributors, sprinters Jake Flatley and Zach Morris; distance runners Chase Mueller and Eric Auber; hurdles runners DeVaughn Palmer and Damon Beckett; pole vaulter Eric Dunbar and weightman Eric Sharier. The above group also helped Wheeling Park finish third in the state championship meet.
Palmer was fifth in the state in the 110-meter high hurdles final while Dunbar placed sixth in the pole vault.
Bryce Ingram, state qualifier as a freshman, joins Maerkeith O'Neal as Wheeling Park's returning letterwinners in the 100 and 200 sprints. The 400 and 800 returning participants are Maurice Miller and Michael Mauck, while Zach Witsberger and Taylor Long head the distance runners.
Baynes, also a conference champion during his first season competing in the long jump and OVAC placer D.C. Banks give the Patriots a couple of top performers in this event.
Shot put participants are Dewanya Neal and Robert State. Neal, who also placed in the OVAC championships, is expected to have another solid year competing in the distance events. The letterwinning pole vaulters returning are Chase Bonar and Alex Triveri.
Some new faces Daugherty believes may come along and provide some depth in the various events are Jaleel Brown, Johnathan Flight, Geremy Paige, Josh Garrett and Albert Shrimp.
Five seniors graduated from Coach Russ Hutchins' successful girls' track program that captured 2011 Region One, Class AAA, OVAC Class 4A and overall championships.
Replacements must be found for Alicia Bonar, Taylor Croft, Misti Ernest, Sarah Fisher and Olivia Tarr.
Fisher, the 2010 state champion in the discus, won a second straight OVAC title in the throw. She was the top OVAC shot put performer as well during her junior year. Bonar, a hurdler, won OVAC long jump competition. Tarr placed in both the conference and regional high events while Croft lettered in the distance races and Ernest was a letterwinner in the pole volt.
Marissa Custer, Lexi Ricker and Amanda Ricker return as shot put and discus participants.
Distance State meet qualifiers a year ago were Ellena Romanek (3200) and Lauren Tarovisky, who was fourth in the 1600 meters. Other distance runners that lettered were Audrey Biega, Samantha Dodd, Madie Friday and Madison Morris.
In the sprints Ashley Grove participated in the state meet in the 400 meters.
Mikia Muellar and Rakedra Webb also lettered as sprinters, while Stacy Chaplin and Jazzlyn Hall were hurdles competitors. Other state meet qualifiers back are high jumpers Paige Durkin and Olivia Wiley. Emma Dolan returns after placing third in the state as a pole vault contestant.
Distance events candidates include Amanda Alig, June Braunlich, Lindy Carey, McKenna Coyne, Casey Dolan, Natalie Fagundo, Cecily Flight, Courtney Long, Emma Romanek, Sydnie Stewart and Michelle Tan. Among the sprinters are Isabella DeFazio, Julie Dorsey, Miriam Flatley, Mikayla Jackson, O'Shun Jones, Kristy Kull, Monica Lathon, Nakysha McGhee, Rebeca Sellers, Rebecca Stahl, Emily Torbett and Natasha Whitaker.
Lexi Chacalos, Cristin Dolan, Adrianna Dunn, Emily Guthoerl, Natalie Marquart, Aspen Matock, Haley Norman, Anna Pennos, Lizzy Sellers, Paige Settle and Kailee Shelek are the hurdlers. Other discus and shot put candidates are Hannah Butts, Hannah Chiplinski, Shannon O'Lear and Elissabeth Parsons.
WHEELING PARK 2012 TRACK SCHEDULE
Mar. 23: at Parkersburg 4 p.m.
Mar. 27: Brooke 4:30 p.m.
Mar. 31: at South Hills Classic 9 a.m.
Apr. 3: at Buckeye Local 4:30 p.m.
Apr. 10: at St. Clairsville 4:30 p.m.
Apr. 14: Dick Dei Invitational (B) 9 a.m.
Apr. 14: at Bellaire Girls Invitational 9 a.m.
Apr. 17: Steubenville 4:30 p.m.
Apr. 20: TRAC Meet at Park. South TBA
Apr. 24: John Marshall 4:30 p.m.
Apr. 27: Mars (Pa.) Invitational 1 p.m.
Apr. 30: OVAC at St. Clairsville 4 p.m.
May 2: OVAC at St. Clairsville 4 p.m.
May 5: OVAC Finals at Meadowbrook 9 a.m.