With a combination of veterans and newcomers, River Ridge is looking to shock everyone in Region 7AAAA this season, coach Barry Lakes said.
“No one in our region is talking about River Ridge, and we are right where we want to be,” Lakes said. “We are strong in sprints, jumping and mid-distance, and I think we have a group of guys that will compete for the top two spots in the region.”
Returning for the Knights are juniors Nathan Trottier, Tanner Hicks and Michael Lewis, who will be running the sprints and mid-distance events. Lewis will also compete in the triple jump with senior Devonte McIntosh.
Creekview and Sequoyah will field relatively young squads in Region 7AAAAA.
Sequoyah is looking to move forward and develop as a team.
Coach Travis Sheffield will rely on freshmen and sophomores who will be expected to contribute right away, while seniors will carry the throwing and distance events. Daniel McKune will look to score points in the shot put and discus, while Ryan McNeal, Zack Moore, and Christopher Costa will run in the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs. Derrion Rakestraw and Jordan Usher will compete in the jumping events.
Much like Sequoyah, Creekview will rely heavily on a few seniors and its promising young athletes.
Senior Isaiah Rodgers will lead the Grizzlies’ sprinters this season, while vaulters Johnathan Johnson and Joe Dipietro should also score at every meet. Senior Connor Threlkeld, and juniors Johnathan Johnson and Zach Chester are poised to perform well in the throws for coach Tim Smyrl’s team.
“Our goals center around being the best we can be each day,” Smyrl said. “We simply want to break our personal bests each meet.”
In Region 5AAAAAA, Cherokee, Woodstock, and Etowah will be battling for the county and region titles.
Cherokee’s strength will be in the sprints and throws, specifically the 200 and 400 runs, as well as the discus. The Warriors will feature Andrew Harris and Aaron Wright who will be counted on in the 200 and 400, while Brandon Hrouda will look to score points in the shot put and discus.
Despite losing some state qualifiers to college, coach Charley Ingham will look for his boys to run better at region than they did last season.
Woodstock will try to capture another county title this year, while also seeking its first region title.
Coach Rick Glasper has a deep, talented group who have already broken several school records this season. Senior Kylon Drones has already won several county and region titles and has broken two school records in the hurdles. He is also looking to break 46 feet in the triple jump.
Owen Bailey is coming off a successful cross country season and is looking to break the school records in the 1,600 and 3,200. Glasper added that Regan Amos, Deante Robinson and Sharrone Gates are key sprinters, as is Drones, who will give the Wolverines their deepest sprint group in many years.
Chris Steele, who broke the school pole vault record in Woodstock’s first meet, has a good chance at contending for a region title.
With a group of athletes who coach Brett Vavra says work hard and have a good attitude, Etowah could be a team that competes for a region championship.
While Etowah lost a few athletes from last year, in addition to some football players who aren’t participating in track and field this year, Vavra isn’t shying away from his goals and expectations.
“We have some good young guys,” he said. “We want to continue to bring our team together.”