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Zane Kennedy of Vilseck finished second in last year's 800-meter run at the DODDS-Europe track and field finals in 4:15.98. He will be one of few returning medalists for DODDS-Europe teams this season.
Zane Kennedy of Vilseck finished second in last year's 800-meter run at the DODDS-Europe track and field finals in 4:15.98. He will be one of few returning medalists for DODDS-Europe teams this season. (Peter Jaeger/Stars and Stripes)

High school track and field opens its 2011 season Saturday at four locations with a clean slate among male athletes.

That’s “clean” as in “blank.” No 2010 European boys’ individual champions return to defend their titles.

Moreover, 2010 silver-medalists are almost as scarce as champs. Just Derrick Flake of Ansbach, whose 51.11 seconds in the 400 was second to 2010 grad Julius Johnson-Rich of Patch by 1.28 seconds; 800-meter runner-up David Lance of Vilseck, whose 2 minutes, 01.91 seconds trailed Mannheim grad Alex Cornelius’s 2:00.92; Vilseck’s Zane Kennedy, second to Cornelius by 4.74 seconds in the 1,500 and by 8.33 seconds in the 3,000 at 4:15.98 and 9:23.28, respectively, and a third Vilseck athlete, high jumper Dane Gray, runner-up on more attempts to Ramstein grad Michael Wallace at 6 feet, 2 inches, return.

That’s about as wide-open as you can get.

Ramstein is the defending boys Division I team champion, but all those returning silver medalists, along with 100-meter contender Darius Whitehead, a European placer in 2010, and transfers Myles Hall from Patch and North Carolina product Eddie Stokes, both relay runners of note, have Vilseck coach Eric Mead contemplating a move up from his team’s third-place finish in 2010.

“Ramstein (85 points in 2010) lost quite a bit from last year’s senior class,” Mead emailed recently, but not without a caveat. “But with a school that size, they were probably able to replace those graduating seniors with new athletes.”

Even so, “With a little hard work this season,” Mead wrote, “Vilseck could be in the running for a Division I boys’ title.”

Aviano was the top-scoring D-II boys’ team in 2010 with 81 points, but the Saints bid good-bye to 74 of those when Jamal Tuck, Sean Outing and Francis Ledesma graduated. And third-place Mannheim lost 30 points when triple champion Cornelius graduated.

Youthful Bitburg will be led by shot-put bronze medalist Darian Billups, coach Brian Bent reported, while Ansbach returns power in Flake. SHAPE coach Michael Vargas is enthused about the leaders of his 65-strong team, stateside transfer discus thrower Justin Davis, also a high-, long- and triple-jumper, and distance runners Curtis Engel and Michael Cotugno; while AFNORTH’s D.C. McDonald reported his team will coalesce around 20-foot long-jumper Jamil Pollock, sprinter Sean Amidan and newcomer Dante Brown in the weight events.

Brussels boys were the only D-III team to score in the 2010 European championships. Rota, Sigonella and retiring coach Larry “Liberty” Bell’s final edition of the Menwith Hill Mustangs hope to change that in 2011.

bryanr@estripes.osd.mil

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