TRAVERSE CITY — Paper doesn’t run.
So even though on paper the TC Central girls track team appears to have everything it needs to win Friday’s Division 1 track regional at Central High School, the Trojans aren’t ready to hold an early championship-crowning ceremony.
The defending regional champion Trojans are the favorite, with the top seeds in nine of 17 events and two more No. 2 seeds, but Central is well aware that anything can happen between now and the final event of the meet.
“It’s always fun to see how things shake out on paper, but when it comes to participating and competing you never know what’s going to happen,” said Central girls coach Lisa Taylor.
Aside from having the talent, Central has a big advantage by hosting this year’s regional, where the athletes will be able to sleep in their own beds, perform at a facility they know well and even go to school for part of the day.
“The kids feel real comfortable on their home field,” said Taylor. “To not have to travel is a huge advantage.”
If there’s one event to watch for the Trojans, it’s the 1,600 run. Of the top 15 seeds, Central has 10 of them, beginning with top seed Katie Moses.
“That’s going to be huge,” Taylor said. “The distance events have the opportunity to really perform for their team and help with the team score.”
West has one top seed heading into the meet as freshman Olivia Bishop leads the high jumpers. The Titans’ Allida Smith also is poised to possibly have a big day as the fourth seed in the 100 and the sixth seed in the 200.
Taylor said her team has talked about the opportunity to repeat as regional champions and is taking that very seriously.
“Although our season’s been short it’s been successful,” said Taylor. “We’d love to win it on our home turf. We’re defending champions and we have a real motivated and hyped up team. They’re excited about the idea of being able to win the thing.”
It won’t be much of a surprise if a Traverse City school does well on the boys side of the meet, either. West and Central are expected to be right in the hunt for the regional crown.
“I think the Traverse City kids will do quite well, both from Central and West,” said Central boys coach John Lober. “If you were to go through the seeding sheet and add up the points, West would win the meet and we would be one point out of second. (Flint) Carman-Ainsworth would be one point ahead of us. But I’m not foolish enough to think when I’m looking at the seeding sheet that everyone’s going to do what’s on that sheet.”
West is strong in the hurdles and sprint events. Among the top-seeded Titans is Spencer Montcastle in the 110 high hurdles. Dan Montgomery is ranked first in the 100, where he will battle Central’s T.J. Schwannecke, and Montcastle has the No. 1 seed locked up in the 200. West has five of the top six runners in that event. The Titans also have the No. 1 400 relay team.
Lober feels his team has good balance across the board, but it’s the strength of the distance runners that could carry the Trojans a long way. Central’s 3,200 relay team is within a second of first-place Saginaw Heritage with the team of Chris Brower, Anthony Berry, Kyle Dotterrer and Johnny Ackley. Dotterrer, Keefer Edwards and Berry, who Lober calls the best freshman distance runner in the state, are each highly ranked in the 1,600.
Schwannecke, one of the top sprinters at the regional, could play a big role in Central’s showing as he’s entered in the 100 and 400, as well as the 400 and 1,600 relays.
The Trojans’ field events will be led by Aaron Taylor, who has a high jump of 6’6” to rank first. Taylor also enters the meet fourth in the 110 hurdles.
Lober thinks the Trojans can score in 14 of 17 events, but he believes West will be a factor in most events, too.
“You can look for Central and West in every event and i’m real proud of the fact that we’re a track town and we have a lot of kids who represent our community well in track,” Lober said.
After a slow start to the season weather-wise, the regional is supposed to be run under perfect conditions with temperatures at or near 70 degrees. That means everyone is anticipating good results from the competition.
“I expect good times,” Lober said. “The kids have waited all year for this kind of weather. When you get weather like this it’s very conducive to great competition.”