Cristian Widenhouse is one of the prominent returning track and field athletes for Bishop England this season.
When you've been at the top, there's only moving room below. Bishop England boys track and field coach Tony Colizzi hopes the new senior class will embrace high expectations this season and not suffer a letdown on the heels of a state championship last year.
“It is very difficult to defend a state championship,” Colizzi said. “State championships usually come on the backs of your seniors, so the following year it is new cast of athletes that must carry on the tradition.
“You hope each year that the new class will step up and compete to the best of their abilities.”
Colizzi was clear, though. This group's goal is to continue winning state titles.
He'll rely on notable returners, such as DeAngelo Stephenson, Griffie Loy, Parkwood Griffith, Alex Righi, Cristian Widenhouse and Andrew Furmanchik. “We also have a host of younger and new athletes that we are expecting some good things out of this year,” Colizzi said.
Stephenson has dominated sprinting events in the past. Loy signed with the Naval Academy for throwing field events, proving his high caliber at the high school level. Griffith competes in pole vault. Righi, Widenhouse and Furmanchik highlight the Bishops' distance events.
Colizzi noted areas for improvement in jumping and hurdles.
Some key dates on the Bishop England schedule include the Coaches Classic in late March, the Father Kelly Classic – which the Bishops host – in early April and the Taco Bell tournament one week later.
The Wando boys track and field team boasts the coveted balance of talented individuals and a strong overall team.
Last season, the Warriors finished as champions of Charleston County and their region. Kenny Waring, a freshman at the time, claimed the state championship in the 100 meter dash, and he placed second in the long jump.
Dezmon Venning earned the runner-up spot in the state discus meet as a senior, and the 4x100 relay team earned sixth place.
Waring returns as the fifth ranked sophomore in the nation in the 100 meter with a time of 10.70. He was also slotted No. 1 in the country for his age in the long jump with a mark of 23 feet 9 inches. “Obviously, Kenny Waring will be a big part of our team placing in two events in the state meet last year,” coach Kevin Shiver said. “Kenny's goal this season is to win the 100 meter and long jump.”
Waring's football teammates are also making a name for themselves in track and field. Seniors Davis Banks and Zach Dauscher compete in the pole vault. Newcomer and sophomore Gauge Wood “is showing great potential,” Shiver said. “All three vaulters have the ability to go over 14 feet this season.”
Seniors Chuck Rouse, Rashaun Brown and Kaiser Pinkney, along with junior Nolan Kelleher figure to tally high throwing totals this season for Wando.
“In the sprints, we look to make it for the third straight year in the 4x100 with Kenny anchoring that team,” Shiver said. “It is early, but it looks like two seniors that are new to track and field – Rudder Brown and Nate Wright – will help Wando reach our goals: breaking the school record the third straight year and competing for a first place finish at state.”
The distance group is also led by seniors with Andrew Roberts, Andrew Tyler, Johnathon Rice and Myles Clarke figuring to make impacts in the 800, 1600 and 3200 meter runs.
A.J. Gawryluk comes off a strong cross country season and is a state contender for the 3200 meter championship.
“We are working hard in all events and plan on making a splash at the SCHSL State Championships this season,” Shiver said. “This is the most seniors we have ever had going into a season, and they are hungry to put rings on their fingers.
“Each competitor has his individual goals but our ultimate team goal will be focused on doing what we need to do as a team to place as many guys as we can at the state meet to win the overall team championship.”
Follow reporter Tyler Heffernan on Twitter at @TylerHeff.