Big Walnut High School girls track and field head coach Joe Evener has 45 girls on his outdoor squad this year, and he said the enthusiasm of the students who participated in this past winter’s Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches indoor track season should carry over into what he called a fun spring season with a lot of potential.
“We had a great finish to the indoor season,” Evener said. “Anna Mackey qualified to the indoor state meet for the third year in a row, placing ninth; Sami Rammelsberg qualified to the indoor state meet for the second year, placing 11th; and Kaitlin Meade broke the school record in the indoor 800-meter run.”
“It’s our job to put the girls into the right events, and best position them to maximize their potential as soon as we can,” Evener said. “But one of the things, I believe, that makes us such a competitive team year after year is the concept of unity. We are a team that understands, ultimately, our strength is in each other and that we support each other.”
Evener said the team is a family, with coaches, current athletes and former athletes alike feeling a connection with each other.
“I’m in contact with so many graduates from the program, and they still show their encouragement, they care about what is going on well after they graduated, and consider their time on the team as their favorite memories of high school,” Evener said. “That has not changed. I’ve watched our current squad of girls cheer for each other, support each other, and encourage each other through the difficulties of the pre-season conditioning period. The bonding they are experiencing will be so valuable when we get into the heart of the season.”
Evener said another team strength is in the coaching staff: Red Edwards, a highly regarded hurdle coach; Mike Ryder, a respected jumps coach; and, Jim Boyd, a coach who developed some of the most talented teams in school history.
“Distance coach Kevin Lewis has over 30 years of experience in coaching, and is well-known throughout the state,” Evener said. “Dora Riggs is, in my opinion, among the finest young throws coaches in central Ohio. The girls, under her tutelage, have great form and she has put multiple athletes in the regional meet and indoor state meet nearly every season since joining the coaching staff in 2012.”
New to the coaching staff this season will be Chelsey Carothers. Last season she worked with both the distance runners and pole-vaulters; this season she moves into working full time with the pole-vaulters.
Evener said the team’s core strength is its seniors: Erin Lanning, Sara Althauser, Anna Mackey, Sami Rammelsberg, Colleen White, Kayle Tanner, Selena McVay, Maddie Jenkins, Mary Jenkins, Kylie Stickrath, Jessica Ruffing and Ellie Jindra.
“There’s a lot of experience and talent in this group of seniors,” Evener said. “I know they’re ready for the season to begin. They’re doing a great job leading the team, and there’s a good mix of leadership in each of the different areas of track and field, as well as a few new faces. I can’t wait to see what they can do.”
Evener said that in the field events, junior Anna Vrancken qualified to the regional in the discus last season, making the finals and placing ninth. White placed in the district in both the shot put and discus last season, and was the team’s leading scorer.
On the track, Evener said sophomore Kaitlin Meade, with her indoor 800 school record, along with junior Emma Grumney, sophomores Leksi Murienks and Becca Bogantz, and freshmen Adelee Gartner and Hannah Moroz will be key in coach Lewis’ distance races. Seniors Sara Althauser and Sami Rammelsberg will lead a young group of hurdlers, Evener said, and in sprints the team has a good mix of experience and youth.
“The Ohio Capital Conference is one of the toughest conferences in central Ohio,” Evener said. “In the past seven years our division, the OCC Capital, has produced six district team champions and five district team runners-up as well as countless state qualifiers, placers and champions. There are very few other conferences in central Ohio, regardless of sport, that can say that.”
Evener said New Albany, Olentangy and Olentangy Orange would no doubt be major obstacles between Big Walnut and a 2016 conference title.
“As always, we need to be solid through all 17 events to put ourselves in position to make a run at the title before next year’s conference realignment,” Evener said. “I can’t wait to get the season started. The girls have the experience and they have the right attitude and work ethic to accomplish all of our team goals.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093