Boys track preview

Boys track preview

Ethan Israels

“Pop” the starter fired his pistol and the last track event for the 2015 West Ottawa Von Ins Relays began. This would be the last race on this track until 2017. Due to construction at the main stadium, that affects shot put and discus areas, WO will not host any dual meets in 2016. Despite not having a single home dual meet, WO’s offseason work will lead to success in 2016. WO is coming off its best season in over a decade, going 5-1 in the OK Red, breaking 3 school records, and finishing 6th in the state at the Michigan Track Coaches Association Team State Championships. The Panthers have several key objectives that must be accomplished to taste this sweet success in 2016.

  The first goal will be to improve in the throwing events. In 2015, the Panthers struggled to score points in both discus and shot put. WO has also graduated the top thrower from last season, Cody O’ Dell. Throwing Coach Mitch Bosch has left West Ottawa for an administrative job in another district. Taking on his role, and partnering with Coach Court Ziegler will be Coach Zachary Hill who is a state champion thrower that currently holds several records at Allendale High School. In last season’s dual meets, WO was outscored 25-101 in the two throwing events combined. If WO can take the next step with shot and discus, that will go a long way to helping the team put away close dual meets.

  The second key for the 2016 campaign will be reloading athletes to compete in the jumps. In the high jump, WO has graduated their top four jumpers from last year. Two of the four, Demario King and Brian Knowles, both jumped in the top five at the MHSAA Regional, which was key for WO’s third place finish then. Filling this void will be Sr. Zach Holder and Soph. Liam Cavanaugh. For long jump, WO graduated all top five jumpers from last season. Taking over the varsity spots this time for the Panthers will be Sr. Zach Holder and Soph. sensation Michael (Paco) Griffor. Griffor shows tremendous promise as he achieved the varsity standard in only his second jump in 2015. In 2016, Coach Joe Diekevers will take over for WO Hall of Fame Coach Karl Von Ins, who came back to coach the Panthers in 2015.

  A third key will be to continue the success in the middle distance and distance events from last year. WO had a deep crew of mid-distance and distance runners that made it possible to secure 124/175 of all possible distance points in dual meets. WO graduated successful distance runner Gabe Kuyten and dominant middle distance runner Ben Stryker, but still has a promising payload of strong athletes. Returning for 2016 is leading 1600m runner Sr. Ethan Israels, top 3200m standout Jr. Jake Stryker, and exceptional 800m runner Soph. Logan Reimink. The Panthers will look to score the bulk of their distance points in the 1600m run and the 3200m relay which are the events WO excelled in during the 2015 season of success and are now the deepest events in 2016.

  WO will open up the 2016 campaign at Grand Valley State University in the GVSU Laker Challenge on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Come cheer on your Panthers on the road or at the only home contest on May 7, 2016, in The Von Ins Relays at the high school track.