The Sheffield Wolverines have some big shoes to fill at the 2013 District 9 Class AA track and field meet Friday at Kane Area High School.
Kalil Slaughter - now running at Penn State Behrend - advanced through last year's district meet and went on to take tops in the state in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
Two gold medals.
Times Observer photo by Ben Oviatt
Sheffield's Adam Higby competes in the triple jump at the Warren County track meet at War Memorial Field. Higby is a district qualifier in the event, and will compete this Friday in the District 9 Class AA meet at Kane Area High School.
Slaughter wasn't the only Wolverine that made the trip to Shippensburg University in 2012. He joined up with Kwante Johnson, Deonte Clay, and Dylan Reynolds to bring home another medal in the 4x100 relay. Johnson and Clay have moved on, leaving Reynolds - now a senior - as the only Wolverine with state experience on this year's team.
Reynolds will have three chances to punch his ticket back to the PIAA meet, qualifying for districts in the 100, 200, and long jump. His best opportunity may be in the long jump, where he is seeded second overall behind Clarion's Ian Corbett. He will enter the 200-meter dash as the 10th seed, and the 100 as the 17th seed.
Only the D9 champ automatically moves on, or if an athlete meets a state-qualifying standard.
"Dylan has been working hard. He's been to states two years in a row, hopefully he can make it back his senior year," said Sheffield boys coach Rusty Barr.
Joining Reynolds in Kane will be senior Shequan Wright (high jump, third seed), sophomore Adam Higby (triple jump, 11th seed), senior Dylan McNeal (triple jump, 14th seed), and senior Quadir Thomas (discus, 15th seed).
The new look 4x100 relay team will make a return appearance at the District 9 meet, with Wright, McNeal, and Reynolds joining up with sophomore Jimmy Vile as the seventh seeded team in the event.
"We're right in the middle of the 4-by-1," said Barr. "There are some very fast teams this year. It could be anyone's race."
Youth is the name of the game on the girls' side, as the Lady Wolverines will showcase a talented group of freshmen and sophomores at Friday's meet.
Leading the charge is sophomore Jen Isenberg, who enters the meet as the fifth seed in the javelin and the sixth seed in the high jump. Isenberg qualified in both events last season seeded eighth and 10th in the javelin and high jump, respectively.
"We're looking at states," said Sheffield girls coach Jenelle Johnson. "Her best throw is three inches from the qualifying mark. Jen has been consistent with her throws and has been consistent with adding feet on to each throw at every meet. She's been working hard this week and is planning on being at states, whether she is up on the podium or because she reached 121 feet. This is her second year at districts for javelin; she's got the nerves taken care of last year and can confidently go in tomorrow and throw. She also qualified for high jump at 4-11, which will be a carefree event for her - something to take her mind off of javelin and at the same time keep her warmed up to throw javelin at 6 p.m."
Also making return trips for the Lady Wolverines are fellow sophomores Jade Moore and Morgan Leichtenberger. Moore qualified as the 12th seed in the long jump - one spot up from last year - and Leichtenberger comes in as the 11th seed in the 100 meter hurdles after taking the 19th spot as a freshman.
"Being only a sophomore, there is no reason (Moore) can't be at states within the next two years if she keeps working hard," said Johnson. "She's grown more and more confident in herself over the last two weeks and it's nice to see it reflected in her jumping.
Both Moore and Leichtenberger will run in the girls 4x100 relay along with freshman Julia Vile and sophomore Marlea Sprandle. It's a young relay and the first time to districts for them.
Rounding out the district qualifiers for the Sheffield girls is freshman Brittany Fritz, who earned the 17th seed in the shot put and is one of just four freshmen in the event.
"She's looking to break the school record in shot," said Johnson. "If she doesn't do it this year at districts, she has three more years to break it."
Again, it's a young Lady Wolverines group, with no senior qualifiers, and Johnson thinks they have the potential to send several to states in the coming years.