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Transition to a new coach can come with some hurdles to clear and Columbia City boys’ track and field faced them last season with first-year head coach Kyle Nelson.
In their second season under Nelson, the Eagles look to make the next step in improvement with the help of top scorers and newcomers joining the team.
“We have guys hitting marks this year that they hit at the end of last year,” Nelson said. “They stepped up to that next rung last year and we’re still on that rung but we’re taking another step toward the next one.
“These guys have bought into the system in what we’re trying to do here. All in all it’s just better. We’re hoping that means better results this year.”
Helping their chances, the Eagles return four of their top five point scorers from 2010 — minus sprinter Seth Spangler.
The loss of Spangler has Columbia City searching for runners to fill the void left from the 100-meter dash up through the 800.
“We have Alex Fritz right now that can take his (Spangler) role in the 800 and 400 by the end of the year. But we’re very thin in sprints. We have guys that can do things for us but we’re not very deep.”
Columbia City can make up for that in the field and other running events.
The Eagles bring back a versatile senior in Jacob Moser, who participates in anything from throwing and high jump to sprints and relays.
“He can throw shot or discus, he can do high jump, run the 100 or 200 and any of the relays for us,” Nelson noted. “Our biggest headache will be where do we want to put him and what’s going to benefit our team and him the best. That might be different in each meet and tournament time.”
Moser scored more points (140.75) than any other Eagle last season finishing ahead of second-place Spangler by more than 50 points.
Throwing alongside Moser, senior Jordan Chapple has been one Columbia City can count on in the throwing events.
The Eagles depth in the field events stretches to its only sectional champion from last season in pole vaulter Dylan Miller.
Also a senior, Miller enters the year finishing with a personal best 13-feet-8-inches at the Wayne regional last season.
“Dylan is a naturally gifted pole vaulter,” Nelson commented. “We hope that another track season will allow him to continue to improve.”
Lucas Hahn backs up Miller in the pole vault finishing third at sectionals at 12-foot.
Senior Trevor Maggart is back after scoring the fourth most points for the Eagles in the hurdle events.
“Trevor is the heart and soul of the Columbia City boys’ track team,” Nelson said. “He keeps the spirits up when they want to go down.
“He dropped his 300 and 110 hurdles times drastically last year after figuring out how to three step. With a little speed development and hurdle work we look for good things from him.”
Columbia City’s depth might run deepest at the distance events.
With the return of seniors David Potter and Brenden Zoltek, the Eagles distance team adds newcomers Adam Bernhard and Evan Harney to an already strong core of runners.
“Evan and Adam are going to give us a lot of depth in the distance events,” Nelson noted. “Evan is another bright spot in our freshman class. Adam is a great runner from cross country coming out for the first time as a sophomore. Those two will make a impact joining David and Brenden, who are veteran runners for us.”
With the season quickly approaching Wednesday in a outdoor season opener at home, Nelson notes the toughest part is finding the right combination for events.
“There are so many different things that we can do with our guys this year,” Nelson said. “It’s just finding that right place for them and you’ll see us put guys in places their not very familiar with to see what’s best for them and for us as a team.”