Weekly Feature



2017-04-19 / Sports

Lady Flames to field small squad, new coach

by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter

Williamsville East’s girls outdoor track team is undergoing a youth movement.

New coach and East graduate Laura Spitznogle said three-fourths of the roster — 21 of 30 — are sophomores, freshman or eighth-graders.

“We have a really young team of hard workers,” Spitznogle said. “A lot of our sophomores are in their first year of running track. So far it’s been a positive experience for everybody. This is a growing plan. We are looking at the future of our program.”

Spitznogle is a former state and national champion in the pentathlon.

Key athletes expected to contribute include seniors Jessica Abbey (sprinter), Malika Kodial (800, 1,500), Alanna Kramer (1,500, 3000, 4x800 relay), Sarah Ostrowski (100 and 400 hurdles; placed fourth in 100 hurdles at sectionals) and Hayley Skidmore (sprints, 100 hurdles, jumps); junior Arya Pindiprolu (400 hurdles); sophomores Jillian Myers (1,500, 3,000, 4x800 relay, steeplechase) and Rachel Romanowski (pentathlon; second at sectionals); and eighth-graders Arianna Kramer (1,500, 3,000, 4x800 relay) and Kayla Myers (pentathlon; took sixth at sectionals). Alanna Kramer and Ostrowski are the team captains.

Younger athletes to contribute include junior Rose Koochekpour (discus/shot put), sophomore Xinzhi Wang (hurdles) and freshmen Jaiha Lee (hurdles) and Celina Chung (triple jump).

East dropped its season opening dual meet at Sweet Home April 4.

Ostrowski won the 100 hurdles despite taking a large gash out of her knee during warm-up and second in the 400 hurdles.

Kayla Myers took first in the high jump in a personal best 4 feet, 8 inches and third in the long jump in 15-11½.

Skidmore scored points by placing first in the 200 and third in the 100 hurdles.

Abbey leaned for the finish to capture third in the 200.

Spitznogle said Romanowski (second in high jump), Arianna Kramer, junior Sarah Blumberg (400) and freshman Gretchen Beyer (sprints) all showed great promise in their events.

East boys

Coach Kurt Holme said the boys team will be led into competition by some experienced talent, along with plenty of new potential.

Seniors Baltaj Sandhur and Dylan Birzon, and high-achieving pentathletes, sophomore Jameson Reid and junior co-captain Joe D’Amico, lead the charge of a solid group of athletes returning from sectional qualifying performances last spring.

Holme said Reid and D’Amico hope to improve upon their top-10 pentathlon sectional performances of last season, while Sandhur, who also qualified for the indoor track state meet, leads East’s group of talented hurdlers, including junior Jason Iannarelli and freshman Nick Lazarov.

Birzon leads the sprinting and jumping group that includes senior Ben Glajch; junior Jorden Chen; sophomores Zach Rudewicz, Ethan Swierski and Ben Woolingham; and freshman Jake Skidmore.

Senior co-captain Andrew Helms and junior co-captain Nick D’Amico, two of the Flames’ most versatile athletes, lead a group of long sprinters and middle-distance runners, including senior Nik Milz, junior Julien Rajakrishnan, sophomores Ishaan Gupta and Adam Helfman, and freshmen Aidan Comerford, Evan Alberti, Nick Lafornara, Cedrick Bone, Saran Harinath and Cole Ronan.

Young talent and leadership for the distance events fall on the shoulders of sophomore Jack Stefanick, with capable assistance from freshman Owen Lewis, sophomore Jon Powell, and seniors Garrett Speller and Nikhil Gupta.

Holme hopes the team displays spirit, pride and outstanding performances for the 2017 spring season.

The coaching responsibilities are broken up among four coaches across the boys and girls teams.

Spitznogle focuses on the hurdlers, sprinters and assisting assistant coach John Priset with jumpers.

Holme works with mid-distance and distance runners and Mike Doerfler works with the throwers.

All of East’s dual meets will be on the road due to construction on their home track. They have been practicing twice a week in the parking lot and another three times a week at Williamsville North. East travels to West Seneca West at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.

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