Count on one thing when the war-delayed high school track season finally gets under way: The athletes will be ready this weekend.

“We were disappointed by the delay,” said Würzburg sprinter Jarod Fox. “We were up and ready to go, but we have been training hard and all this extra time will make us even better.”

Fox’s teammate Antonia Mendez, who ran on Würzburg’s gold-medal 4x800-meter relay team, agreed.

“This gives us more time to train,” Mendez said.

Here’s a look at the 2003 season:

Boys sprint events

With the graduation of DODDS triple-record holder Isaiah Fluellen of Ramstein last year, competition could open up for a number of speedy contenders.

Vilseck’s Antonio Harris, who won the 200 meters last year after Fluellen was injured, will be back to defend his title.

Harris will be pushed by a quartet of runners: Jared Cosens of Ramstein, the defending European 200 and 400 silver medalist; Aaron Scott of Kaiserslautern, fourth in the 100 and third in the 200 last spring; 400 bronze medalist Marquise Eubanks of Wiesbaden; and Wiesbaden newcomer Mike Ganje, who claims to have a 10.7 100 meters to his credit.

Harris also will be pushed by a new teammate, Tony Edmonds, according to Vilseck coach Michael Watts.

“He’ll really give Antonio a run for his money,” Watts said. “Before this is all over, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”

Würzburg looks to have its usual power in both the sprint and distance relays, as three of its 4x100 gold-medal-winning unit return.

Girls sprint events

This year guarantees to see new sprinting champions in every category, as all three from last year have left.

Vilseck’s Ebony Chambers, sister of 2001 300-hurdles champion Tamera Marshall, should contend in the 100 and 200.

She “can really kick on the afterburners,” Vilseck’s Watts said. And “I have a freshman, Shameeka Crowder, that I believe was born to run. She’ll run the last leg of the 4x100 team.”

Another newcomer of note, according to Ramstein coach Cecilia Grosselin, is Raquel McCullom.

The 400 has a returning champ, of sorts. Kat Pizarro of Wiesbaden, who won the event in 2001 but left DODDS-Europe in 2002, returns to the Warriors for her senior campaign and has 56 seconds as her goal, according to coach Darryl Schwartz. It’s nothing if not lofty — the DODDS-Europe record is 57.30.

Würzburg’s Fay Ryans is expected to contend, too.

Boys middle- distance and distance events

SHAPE returns champions in two events — Patrick Edwards (3,000) and Gil Desrochers (800) — and a contender in the 1,500 in David Forte.

Edwards, whose painful hip injury slowed his cross-country season last fall, has been working hard on rehabilitation over the winter.

However, James Dickinson of Naples, fifth in the 3,000 last year will return, as will Wiesbaden’s Otto Mazzoni, Menwith Hill’s Dustin Whitlow and Ramstein’s Parker Cowles.

Defending 1,500 champion Charles Davis left Würzburg in February after being seriously injured in an auto accident on Dec. 14. Runner-up Thomas Hanson of Kaiserslautern, who also placed second in the 3,000 last year, is passing up his senior track season in favor of soccer, according to coach Marty Kollar.

That leaves bronze medalist Edwards as the top returner in the 1,500, while Desrochers faces challenges in the 800 from Wiesbaden’s Eubanks and Aaron Peters.

Girls middle- and distance events

In addition to wanting to run 400 in under a minute, Wiesbaden’s Pizarro has her eye on 2:12 in the 800, Schwartz said.

Also in the mix at 800 are Kristen Barnhill of Aviano, second in Europe at that distance last year; Amanda Terry of SHAPE; and Victoria Lindo of Hohenfels.

At the longer distances, Patch freshman Bona Jones could give upper classmen a run for their money. Jamie Lindsay of Ramstein, third to Jones and Patch’s Carolyn House in October’s cross-country showdown also will contend, as will sophomore Traci Williams and senior Deanna Huscher, both of SHAPE, and junior Molly Moench of Black Forest Academy.

Boys hurdles

Ramstein’s Jacob Palmer, champion in the 300 and second in the 110 highs, returns, as do a pair of fifth-place finishers, Würzburg’s Korey Gunter in the 110 and Ansbach’s Shawn Bachtel in the 300. Also in the mix are Wiesbaden’s Rashaud Joseph in the 300 and Hohenfels’s Lawrence Cruz in the 110.

Girls hurdles

The field is wide open, since 100 champ Shannan Fotter of Lakenheath and 300 titlist Jennifer Storch of Wiesbaden have graduated. Look for BFA senior Liz Sutton to take charge.

Boys field events

Mannheim’s Melvin Jackson might well dominate the throwing events, particularly the discus. Jackson flirted with the DODDS record of 57 feet, 5 inches, which has stood since 1978, before winning the Europeans with a heave of 53-5.5. He was second in the shot last season to Würzburg’s Mike Woolford, who graduated.

Jackson will be challenged by Bo Bartlett of Hohenfels.

In the jumps, JoJo Tutt of Naples, who was second in the long jump last spring, returns to defend his triple-jump crown against a wide-open field of newcomers, while Michal Lubich of SHAPE has already cleared six feet in practice in the high jump, according to coach Marc Robinson.

Girls field events

Experience is the watchword here, even though European high jump champion Charity Stowers of SHAPE has gone back to the States. Runner-up Ashley Buckman of Würzburg and bronze medalist Kym Taylor of Wiesbaden return in that event, and both will have to deal with Latoya Simmons of Vilseck, who coach Watts expects to clear 5-5, the DODDS-Europe record in the event.

Tori McDuffie of Hohenfels is the highest returning finisher in the triple and long jumps.

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