By Chris Zadorozny
The always tough Divine Child girls’ track team is back in full force this season.
The Falcons, who tied with Detroit Country Day for the Division 2 state championship last year, finished second in 2011 and won the title outright in 2010, will be eying another run at the flag this season.
And the Falcons have some big weapons to roll out, led by 16-time all-stater, senior Paige Patterson. She has been on two championship winning relay teams the past two years in the 4×400.
She also competes in the 4×200 and the 400-meter dash.
“She’s a big part of the puzzle,” said Mifsud.
Senior Mallory Myler will also help lead the team this year. The nine-time all-stater competes in the high hurdles and has also been a part of the two state championships. Along with the high hurdles, she also runs the 4×100, 4×200, and 4×400 relay, along with competing in the long jump.
In the speed events, sophomore Kayla Gandy was an all-stater in three different events as a freshman will return as one of the top hurdlers.
Rounding out the senior core is Siena Heights commit, Ashley O’Neill. She has been a state-meet qualifier the past three years and finished second in the discus last year at the state meet.
Among the other underclassmen, there are four juniors, seven sophomores and two freshmen that are expected to bring fresh blood and high hopes to the program coming into the season.
Shot-putter Hannah Schultz, who usually places in the top three for Mifsud, along with Ashley O’Neill’s sister, Rachel, will return as another top thrower for the Falcons.
Lindsey Brewis will be looked upon to hold down the distance events, running the mile and the two-mile. She qualified for the state meet in the two-mile last year.
Finally, “Spark Plug” Liz Mullen “compliments the whole team,” said Mifsud. She competes in six different events ranging from the 400-meter dash to the 800-meter run.
Hannah Korpics, “a dynamite sophomore,” said Mifsud, will hope to help the 4×100 relay squad get back to the state championships this year. She also competes in the hurdles and long jump events.
Mifsud said he expects a good season and hopes for an injury free one.
He credits his coaching assistants for his team’s recent success and with getting the squad ready for the coming year.
Pat Boyer, who works with the hurdlers, has been with the team since its inception on 1981. Jack Benitez covers the hurdlers and Mike Gardner handles the sprints and relays.
“Individually, across the board, we’re pretty solid; from field events to sprints, to middles distance, to all the relays. We’re a pretty well-rounded team,” said Mifsud.
As the Dearborn High girls’ track squad looks to the 2013 season, the Pioneers are hoping to defend their league title.
Last year, the team tied with Belleville, but this year the Pioneers want to win it outright.
Leading the way for the Pioneers, senior Maryrose Debardino will be the go-to relay runner and will lead the way for the sprinters.
She participated in the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter runs last year, along with the long jump. She will be looking to improve upon her sixth-place finish in the 400-meter run at regionals.
Juniors Leah Dong, Sarah Faraj and Margaux Mistor will also help lead the sprinting squad.
Dong will also help in the 100-meter hurdles. Mistor will look to make the jump from middle of the pack sprinter to one of the better sprinters on the squad.
As for the hurdlers, seniors Jesse Balaka and Anna Oslapas and junior Brittnay Toler will be the core the Pioneers rely on.
Balaka finished eighth in the 100-meter hurdles last year at regionals. Oslapas finished fourth in the same race. Toler placed ninth in the 300-meter hurdles at regionals and all three will look to improve those places from last year going into 2013.
“We’ve had a fantastic 4×800 relay team the past six years,” said coach Dawn Polk.
This year’s group will be juniors in Chloe Palajac, Hannah Davison, Zena Bazzi and Zeinab Almanfi.
Handling much of the distance events for the Pioneers is sophomore Clare Whitaker, who finished 14th at regionals in the two-mile. Whitaker also competes in the mile and 400-meter run.
Polk has a positive outlook on the Pioneers coming season.
“We hope to repeat as champs in a new league,” said Polk.
Robichaud’s girls will be looking to compete and maintain a team dynamic and have fun this season.
The Bulldogs only return five seniors and the only all-state runner to compete last year graduated, so the team will depend upon the juniors-turned seniors and a mix of the underclassmen.
Coach Jasmine Mays said she hopes that the team will work hard this season despite not having great depth.
Senior Crystal Robinson will lead the sprinters this year. Last year, she finished sixth at regionals in the 100-meter dash.
Senior shot-putter and discus thrower Jahara Grady will look to improve her throws from last year after her 32nd and 27th place regional finishes in shot put and discus respectively.
The Bulldogs will look to a new form of practice as well, combining boys’ and girls’ practices and using all the coaches to their advantage.
The Bulldogs are in a new division with Dearborn, Romulus, Belleville, Livonia Clarenceville, Inskter, and Redford Union.
Mays said she is hoping that the girl’s squad is able to compete and have fun throughout the season.
“I expect everyone to work hard, and those that do work hard, I expect them to be rewarded.”
Annapolis coach Kevin Knierim isn’t worried about his girls’ track squad coming into the 2013 season, despite being very young.
The Cougars are returning some high-profile runners in transformed sprinter-to-hurdler Angelica Oatis and distance runner Alora Fleenary.
Oatis is looking to improve from her fourth-place finish in the 100 meters and sixth place finish in the 200 at regionals last year, along with hoping to become the top hurdler on her team.
Fleenary is looking to improve from her sixth-place finish at regionals last year in the mile. Fleenary is capable of breaking some school records this year, according to Knierim.
Looking to build on their young team, Knierim is hoping that a solid core of sprinters will come in and solidify that area of the team.
“We should have more speed with the addition of our new sprinters,” said Knierim.
Leading the way for the throwers is senior Shileah Williams, who will be looked upon to lead the team in way of senior leadership.
The Edsel Ford squad heading into this season is a small and young one and the season promises to be a challenge.
There are three big athletes that the team will rely heavily on, according to assistant coach Lynn Bahena.
Senior Aurora Lobatos will take on much of the sprint running, the 400-meters and 4×100 relay.
Senior Samone Hollie will handle much of the throwing chores and junior Autumn Stanek will lead the hurdling crew.
There are only nine upperclassmen and 11 freshmen to make up the team, a very small squad compared to the rest of the Dearborn area schools.
Fordson will have a new coach helming the team this season. He is David Holota, who will take the reigns of a young team hoping to compete in a new division.
Returning for the Tractors is junior relay and hurdle specialist Sarah Naser.
Sophomore Lena Bazzi will try and lead the throwers after competing in both the discus and shot put last year as a freshman. She placed 11th and fourth respectively in those events at regionals last year.
Senior Lena Jaafer will be the top middle-distance runner for the Tractors.
Junior Saja Hamad and sophomore Jinan Aladily will hope to lead the sprinters.
To read the original post that appeared online on the MI Prep Zone website, on March 22, 2013, go to www.miprepzone.com/pressandguide.