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DODDS Europe track preview

Plenty of athletes have shots at titles in track

Naples' Ashley Forte, center, won the 100 in a meet in Creazzo, Italy, earlier this month. But she's considered a strong contender in the 200 and 400 at the DODDS European Track and Field Championships Friday and Saturday in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

The 2014 DODDS-Europe track and field championships will be held Friday and Saturday at Kaiserslautern High School. Here’s a look at the top contenders in each individual event:

Boys

100 meters: Wiesbaden’s Anthony Little sprinted to the title of DODDS-Europe’s fastest man last spring with a blistering time of 10.92 seconds, and he’s stayed right on that pace all season. But he’ll find a hungry field and a thin margin for error at Kaiserslautern. Vicenza’s Karl Bulgin, Kaiserslautern’s David Zaryczny, Ramstein’s Johnny Pack and Gregory Desulme, Hohenfels’ David Vidovic and Warrior teammate Dequan Reed are among the biggest threats at Little’s heels.

200 meters: Little is back to defend this title as well, with a similar group of contenders hoping to unseat him. Desulme, who finished second to Little in both short-distance events last May, is foremost among them.

400 meters: Ramstein’s Eric Carter finished second in Europe in wrestling last season before winning a title this year. He’ll try to complete the same trick in track this weekend after finishing as runner-up in this event last spring. Carter leads a pack of contenders that also features Marymount’s Riccardo Cirilli, Wiesbaden’s CJ Pridgen, and Vilseck’s Khayree Files.

800 meters: Kaiserslautern’s Michael Lawson won this event last spring, and Raider runner Michael Close will attempt to keep the title in the program this spring. Count Cirilli, Wiesbaden’s Kelsey Thomas, Baumholder’s Isaak Giefer and Lakenheath’s Andre Bowser among his primary adversaries.

1,600 meters: Wiesbaden’s Thomas is a strong contender for this event as well after a fourth-place finish last spring, but he’s no shoo-in for the title. Warrior teammate Alex Wieman, Patch’s Alexander Bowman, Ramstein’s John Casey and Vilseck’s Ben Nelson and Michael Nelson present Division I opposition; Marymount’s Garbis Chekerdjian, Bitburg’s Jamal Braxton and Naples’ Raekwon Sallywhite might pull the upset from the Division II level.

3,200 meters: The Ramstein Royals and Patch Panthers are on a collision course on multiple fronts this spring, and the clash might spill over into this long-distance event. Ramstein’s Casey and Patch’s Bowman finished within a second of each other in a May 10 showdown, with Casey inching out a win. The rematch should be just as compelling. Runners like SHAPE’s Colin McLaren and Wiesbaden’s Jesse Hendrix will seek to complicate matters.

110 hurdles: A pair of names familiar to DODDS-Europe sports fans will square off in this race. Reymoi Lewis, the All-Europe quarterback of the champion Wiesbaden football team, and David Harris, the All-Europe centerpiece of surprise basketball semifinalist Vilseck, have run neck-and-neck all year, and this weekend should be no different. Naples’ Nick Snider is in range to pass both.

300 hurdles: Lewis, Harris and Snider will all be in the mix at this distance as well, but they’ve got company in Ansbach’s Brian Debel and Wiesbaden’s Anthony Sterling, among others.

High jump: Both Ramstein’s Jon Waarvik and Baumholder’s Demonte Fisher have posted a jump of six feet and two inches this spring, a height equal to last year’s European-winning effort by since-graduated Andrew Bert of Aviano. Vilseck’s Files and Ramstein’s Jamael Kingsberry have also cleared six feet this spring.

Long jump: A leap of 20-plus feet lands one in range of a title in this event, a feat accomplished this season by Ramstein’s Waarvik, Schweinfurt’s Timo Togafau, Naples’ Austin Bain and Wiesbaden’s Lewis and Daivon Poole.

Triple jump: The springy Waarvik has a chance to sweep the trio of jumping events this weekend. His primary competition here comes from teammate Kingsberry and Wiesbaden duo Ermis Carter and Tim Cuthbert.

Discus: Three of the top five finishers in this event are back from last year’s tournament. Runner-up Drake Harness of Ramstein, third-place Julian Byles of Hohenfels and fifth-place finisher Hunter Lunasin of Wiesbaden will test their strength again this weekend. Vilseck shot-put specialist Armando Saldana, meanwhile, will make a run at a strongman sweep.

Shot put: This event belongs to reigning champion Saldana until proven otherwise. Fellow European wrestling champion Lunasin and Ramstein’s Drake Harness will challenge his reign.

Girls

100 meters: SHAPE’s Ryan Paine and Kaiserslautern’s Autumn Collins and Jada Bostic have all outperformed last year’s European-winning race this spring; Ramstein’s D’Myia Thornton, Wiesbaden’s Marquala Scott and Amelya Hempstead, Lakenheath’s Jaelyn Freeman and Kristen Reed and Bamberg’s Katie Funcheon have all come within fractions of a second.

200 meters: An equally tight field will line up for this race, with many of the same participants. Add Kaiserslautern’s Deaja Hubbard, Ramstein’s J’melia Richardson and Naples’ Ashley Forte to the ranks.

400 meters: While Forte is a contender at 200, the Wildcat might be the runner to beat in this race. Bitburg’s Theree Gatterburg is right with her, while SHAPE’s Paine, Ramstein’s Denee Lawrence and Jewel Beji and Ansbach’s Kelly McCaskill are all within two seconds of overtaking her.

800 meters: Reigning European champion Julia Lockridge of Patch and 2013 runner-up McCaskill are back for a rematch this spring, but there are plenty of capable runners ready to overshadow them. Ramstein’s Madison Morse, Lakenheath’s Michah Fontenot and McKayle Boden, ISB’s Ayden Eickhoff and Kaiserslautern’s Shanice Harmon have all hung with Lockridge and McCaskill this spring.

1,600 meters: Ramstein’s Morse won this event last spring and has been the class of Europe again this year, making her a runaway favorite to repeat. Patch’s Kelleen McGuinness, Wiesbaden’s Gabriela Elliot and Lakenheath’s Boden will be there to seize on any slippage.

3,200 meters: As in the 1,600-meter race, Ramstein has fielded a definitive favorite in the meet’s longest-distance jaunt. Royal runner Nicole Leondike posted a 12:28.75 on May 10, by far the best score of the regular season. A repeat performance will give her the nod over a field including Naples’ Caroline Bracken, Patch’s Michelle Gelacio and Kaiserslautern’s Harmon.

100 hurdles: Returning champion Phylecia Faublas won convincingly last spring, but she’s got some formidable competition in Kaiserslautern’s Jasmyn Bostic, who turned in a 15.76 time May 10 that would have bested Faublas’ title-winning time last year.

300 hurdles: Ansbach’s Mykala Bazen burst onto the scene last spring to win this event, and she’s spent her senior season racing mostly against her own high standards as the field falls further behind. But Kaiserslautern’s Jasmyn Bostic and Jada Bostic, Lakenheath’s Reed and Alconbury’s Olivia Sealey lurk as threats.

High jump: Ramstein’s Krystiona Mclean and Wiesbaden’s Kristin Alepado have each flirted with the five-feet mark that won Ansbach’s Caprice Lockett the European title last year. Division II Black Forest Academy fields a pair of contenders in Phoebe Robinson and Erin Fortune.

Long jump: While Division III teams often struggle against Division I neighbors, the individual nature of track events can even the field. That’s the case for Brussels’ Olivia Sadler, who has outjumped the large-school likes of Kaiserslautern’s Rhea Harris, Wiesbaden’s Hempstead and Faublas and Ramstein’s Samantha Carbon this season.

Triple jump: Italy has a good shot at a rare European track title in Vicenza’s Gabriel Moore, who turned in a jump of 33 feet, five inches on May 3 to set the DODDS-Europe regular-season standard. But Kaiserslautern’s Harris isn’t far behind, and she finished second at last year’s European meet.

Discus: Barring the unforeseen, this event is the exclusive property of Bamberg’s Damonique Lamons, who is poised to put a powerful finishing touch on the brief but eventful saga of Bamberg athletics before the school shuts down this summer.

Shot put: Lamons, the defending champion in both power events, is the prohibitive favorite to win this event as well after finishing second last spring. Nobody has come within six feet of her best tosses this spring.

broome.gregory@stripes.com

Twitter: @broomestripes

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