Weekly Feature

2017-04-20 / Sports

Spoiler alert: EA track will be good in longer events


Molly McLaughlin will be among the returning standouts in the middle distance and distance events for East Aurora’s girls track team this spring. 
File photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Molly McLaughlin will be among the returning standouts in the middle distance and distance events for East Aurora’s girls track team this spring. File photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com It’s no secret that East Aurora’s track and field program has greatly benefited from the success of the school’s cross-country team over the years, and 2017 is shaping up to be more of the same thanks to a solid returning core of middle distance and distance competitors — on both the boys and girls squads — who have earned their fair share of accolades over the years.

“Our distance group is the team’s core,” co-coach Walt McLaughlin said. “A lot of them are training year round and they’re pretty good at what they do. Right now we’re just trying to figure out who goes where in the field so we can train them to be best they can be. We’ll have our work cut out for us against some of the better teams in our league, but we’re looking forward to getting through our dual meet schedule and using our invitationals to key in on top individual performances.”

East Aurora’s boys team, which edged out Alden for the regular-season title last year in a close dual meet with the Bulldogs, will look to overcome the loss of several longtime stalwarts of the program, including record setters and state-championship performers Matthew McLaughlin and Jason Farrell. Some of the returning athletes looking to be among this year’s go-to performers in their place include seniors Matt Sieracki, Pat Murray and Liam Sheehan (4x400-meter relay, 400 dash), also well as juniors Ian Russ (4x800, mile and two-mile runs), John Lyons (distance), Parker Tent (distance) and Jack Watson.

Junior JT Anstett, meanwhile, is developing as a sprinter and thrower, coach McLaughlin said.

“The boys team had a lot of talented seniors last year, but our goal is always to regroup, reload and come back strong,” coach McLaughlin said. “It’s tough to replace the crew we lost — some of those distance kids last year were two-time state champions in cross-country — but this year’s group is working hard. We’ll see in the next month how we stack up and that’ll come down to how much we improve between now and then.

“It’s a team effort,” coach McLaughlin continued. “It’s no secret that we’re strong in the distance events, so for us to have a good team we need to fill the other events and be successful across the board. We’ve got some young kids coming along in the field events and our sprints are kind of wide open right now. We’ve got lot of work to do and hopefully we’ll do a lot of good by the time we’re done.”

East Aurora will also be looking to find ways to make up for the departure of some long-time stalwarts on the girls’ side as well, athletes that included state 3,000 champion Sophia Tasselmyer and state qualifier Morgan Palmer in the throws.

Like the boys team, the Lady Blue Devils have a bunch of returning athletes who are ready to shine again — or shine for the first time — that includes seniors Erin Cocca (distance), Maisy Webster (distance) and Tori Klimowicz (middle distance/distance), juniors Molly McLaughlin (middle distance) and Eva Scarpa (middle distance), and sophomore Emily Jason (middle distance/distance).

“The girls are essentially a mirror image of the boys team; they’ve been working hard and having good workouts,” coach McLaughlin said. “We train the boys and girls teams the same, and as such the strengths are pretty much the same between them. There’s just a nice core group that trained hard all winter and some of them will do really well at the end of the season.

“Because there’s a lot of the cross-country kids who know what it takes to be successful, they’re focused and ready to get the work done already,” coach McLaughlin continued. “Their workouts have been going great, so now they just need the meets. The next month will make a huge difference with them. Hopefully our sprints and our field events come along in the meantime.”

East Aurora was able to get in one meet before spring break, and though the boys and girls teams both beat Springville on April 4 by nearly 2-to-1 margins, coach McLaughlin noted that the times and performances weren’t the best in less-than-ideal weather conditions.

“The weather was terrible that day, so we did well all things considered,” coach McLaughlin said. “It was just good to get a dual meet in, and it’ll serve as a good starting point for the season for us.”

East Aurora was poised to resume dual meet action Wednesday at Maryvale, but information about that meet — including whether or not the weather even allowed for it to be held — was not available at press time. The Blue Devils aren’t scheduled to compete again, however, until they take part in the annual Dunkirk Invitational on Friday, April 28.

“We’ve just got to continually improve and keep everyone healthy, as those are the biggest keys for continued success,” coach McLaughlin said. “Some of these kids come into the season in pretty good shape, so it will be fun to see how good we can be this year. A lot of the younger kids trained pretty hard over the last year, so it’ll be interesting to watch them make a name for themselves in track. It’s really such a short season for these kids to learn and perfect their events, but we’ll do what we’ve got to do so we’re at our best in the big meets at the end of the season.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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