Runners to your marks, set ...
Stars and Stripes March 16, 2023
The path toward the DODEA European Track and Field Championships is set, beginning this weekend and ending May 19-20 at Kaiserslautern High School.
Last year’s champions – Kaiserslautern for the boys and Wiesbaden for the girls – will look to repeat, as will so many individual winners who return to the tracks this spring.
Here’s a look at the teams and athletes who could make the podium come this May, based on responses from coaches across Europe:
The Dragons have numerous athletes who could find themselves in contention for the European championships – and possibly coming out on top of the podium.
One of the top contenders is Jonathan Reyna. The sprinter will compete in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, but the 400 may be his best chance at silverware, after taking eighth place last May.
Others returning are Bohdan Andre in discus, Alfonso Sanchez in the high jump and 200, Emma Behr in the 100 and Daniella Pantoja in the 100 and discuss.
Newcomers to keep an eye are Saniya Townes, Evie Cumming, Daniel Blackburn, Julian Brazoban and Ben Wilson.
The Falcons got a late start thanks to the construction of a new track at the school, but that won’t damper their spirits.
Bahrain has six returning European meet qualifiers who coach Kesi Carter said will mentor the freshman class. The returners are Dimitri Mohamed, Paulo Sarmiento, Juan Young, Maddox Ryan, Natalia Garzon, Maddie Armes, Carson Owens, Grayson Owens, Dalisa Lewis and Toby Harney.
Joining the Bahrain team this year are Angelina Mohamed, Daniel Sobieralski, Ted Goddard, David Testa, Noah Matthew, Ronald Henderson, Zyon Green, Naava Barber, Laila Trimble, Arzel Quavo and Drue Britton.
Coach Alyssa Flynn has expressed excitement for 2023, saying the athletes’ wider range of skills will allow the Buccaneers, who won the boys Division III title in 2022, compete in more events than in the past.
Baumholder has a few returners who already have experienced success at the European meet. Janiyah Spruill took fourth in the girls 100 last year with a time of 13.47 seconds and fifth in the 400 with a time of 1:04.2. Emma Rodriguez was a member of the 1,600 sprint medley that finished first in 4:42.32.
On the boys side, basketball star Caleb Pigge came in fifth place in the high jump, clearing 5 feet, 7 inches.
Other returners include Shanelle Johnson, Alex Barreto and Dorian Cobb.
Black Forest Academy
The Falcons might be young this year, but they have three senior captains to lead the way.
Thrower Kiki Dunnette launched herself to second place at the European meet in the shot put with a throw of 29-11.5. Abi Davis is expected to push her personal bests in the high, long and triple jumps this season, and Micah Mansfield will compete in the sprints, throws and jumps.
Of the newcomers, senior Elmi van der Westhuizen, sophomores Liberty Cooke and Ben Allers and freshman Luke Harman will go out for the distance events. Allers will join seniors Ethan Hernandez (sprints/throws) and Brendan Kerr (sprints/throws) and juniors Amy Edele and Maddie Steiner (both sprints) in the jumping events.
The Brigands bring back many athletes from the squad that finished second at the Division III boys competition, starting with William Pierce. The three-sport star collected European crowns in the long jump and triple jump last season, as well as taking second in the 200 and third in the 100.
The senior has carried that success over this year, having claimed football and wrestling championships so far.
Another Brussels athlete who made the podium last year is Sofia Chentsova. The senior, whose personal record in the high jump is 4-11, tied for fifth at Kaiserslautern High School in 2022 and came in eighth in the triple jump.
Also returning are Damion Rogers (high jump/relays), Macey Stewart (distance), Blanka Prikasky (distance), DeMarkus Charles (sprints/jumps), Lukas Adams (distance) and Nik Szymanski (middle distance).
Haley Mitchell should be a factor in sprints, jumps and relays, while Preston Eldred will run the 400 and 800.
The Wildcats took home the Division II boys crown thanks in large part to their relay performances, and with three key pieces of those teams back, they could help propel them to the top again.
Cameron Collins, Jan Castro-Cruz and Christopher White were members of the 4x400 and 1,600 sprint medley teams that won European championships. The trio also played a role on the 4x100 team that took third place overall.
Castro-Cruz finished eighth in the 100 and Collins was third in the 400 as well.
Jacob Kidd, Davion Bowie and Maxwell Munene return after being a part of the 4x800 relay team that came in third.
The girls team will be smaller than usual, but it still will be mighty. Aiyana Godfrey highlights the squad after taking sixth in the 100 and being a part to the third-place 1,600 medley squad with fellow returner Alexandra Balsamo. Gracie Dominguez and Balsamo also make up the half of their 4x800 relay, which finished eighth in Kaiserslautern last year.
New arrivals senior Jack Thomas and Jelani Castro look promising in the throwing events, according to coach Francis Noonan. Emma Fischer and Jillian Bradley, meanwhile, will help Naples in the girls relay teams.
Coach Will Buckley has declared this spring to be a rebuilding campaign for the Royals.
Most coaches would love to be in his situation. Ramstein has 173 athletes on the roster for the boys and girls teams, and many of them are three-sport athletes.
One of the top athletes is senior Max Furqueron, who placed second (2:01.03) and sixth (4:38.62) in the 800 and 1,600, respectively, at last year’s European meet. He also was the anchor leg on the 4x800 relay that won the European title in 8:17.94.
Also expected to make some noise is junior Vincent Studer, who crossed the line in third place in the 300 hurdles.
For the girls, sophomore Jodia Relojo and senior Brenna Mack both made the podium last year with sixth- and fifth-place finishes in the 200 and 1,600, respectively. Mack added a sixth-place finish in the 3,200.
Senior Jasmine McKinley comes back after a seventh-place result in the 300 hurdles last spring, while senior Alysha Edwards came in the sixth in the shot put.
The Admirals may have just 20 athletes between the girls and boys teams, but coach Carie Sundberg is seeking to get as many as possible to the European championships.
She has two individual qualifiers returning in juniors Sophia Dickkut and Brian Leiba. Dickkut came in eighth place in the 200 and 400 with times of 28.36 seconds and 1:05.36, respectively.
Also returning are Rachel Owins and Evarista Irby.
New to the team are swimming standout Isabella Cardenas in the middle-distance events and freshman Anna Townsend in the long-distance events.
New Spartan coach John Brown is looking for just two things – getting his athletes to set personal records and take as many as possible to the European meet in May.
He has one athlete who already has that experience. Senior Douglas Forbes competed last year in both the 800 and the 1,600, the latter of which he finished in seventh place.
Other returners include Conor Hall, Abigail Hopkins, Panagiotis Kostoulas, Asher McMullen, Julian Newbauer, Ben Reynolds, Sebastion Taylor Galofre and Shun Thomas.
The Cougars had a couple of runners training during the offseason, giving them high hopes for this campaign.
The Vicenza athlete with the most hype is Zach Denton. The senior won the European title in the 100 hurdles in a time of 15.39 seconds, and he is expected to push for the DODEA record in the event this spring.
Others coming back are Stephen Adeleye, Jada Anderson, Larkin Blue, Jackson Brock, Michael Darland, Erik Gastelum, Kylen Gray, Jacob Kloepper, Henri Lane, Julian Moroni, Andrew Reed, Matthew Stinson, Kaitlyn Wayne and Allison Williams.
The Falcons have more than 70 athletes on the squad this year, and more than half of them are either freshmen or new arrivals, according to new coach Diana Geiger.
With that youth, Vilseck will turn to two European placers for guidance. Justice Moore came in fifth place in the girls shot put last year (28-8.5), while Gabby Shields dashed her way to eighth in the 100 in a time of 13.77 seconds.
Also back this spring are Aedan Marr, Kendall Terrell, Ibrahima Balde and Owen Brewer.
Coach Ian Wingfield is excited for this track season, and when you have the best sprinter and hurdler around, it’s easy to see why.
Junior Makiah Parker swept the 100, 200 and 400 at last year’s European championship meet, leading the Warriors to the girls crown. She’s back and looking for more.
As is Ava Stout. The senior took care of business in both the 100 and 300 hurdles, winning both races by 2.7 and 3.86 seconds, respectively.
Faith Maina also placed at the 2022 European meet, taking fourth in the 400 and sixth in the 800. She along with the other two made three-quarters or the winning 4x400 relay team that ran a 4:07.88.
Senior Kendall Kaloostian and sophomore Bryce Watts are back after being on the title-winning 4x800 relay, and the duo plan on qualifying once again in the long-distance races.
For the boys, European-placers Luke Jones (eighth in the 1,600 and third in the 3,200 as a freshman) and senior Zach Watts (sixth in the 110 and fourth in the 300 hurdles) are back, and they are joined by Abner Elias. Jones is coming off a European cross country championship in the fall.