NEWCOMERSTOWN -- Returning for his second year as head coach of the boys' and girls' track teams at Newcomerstown High, Jamie Lewis was happy with how his first season went as head coach and is excited to get the 2017 season under way.
"I think we had a real good year last year," offered Lewis. "All of the kids did really well and they all stepped up and worked hard. We had a talk at the end of last season about how things would go for us this year, and even the kids decided that we need to work a little harder to get to the place we want to get to this season."
For the boys, there will be 26 athletes competing and Coach Lewis is confident the guys will be able to carry over some of the success from last season.
"I think the guys are going to be pretty sound for what we have," said the Trojans' coach. "I think we will do well in the field events and our sprints are going to be a lot better this year because we have a lot of new runners who will help out in that area. We also have some really good distance runners.
"Overall, I think all the way around our guys should be pretty good," he added.
Returning letterwinners for Newcomerstown include seniors Brandon Moore (sprints) and Dayton Starkey (shot put/discus) along with juniors Ryan Stevens (pole vault/sprints), Noah Creager (sprints), Brody Lehman (middle distance) and Anthony Sanders (middle distance).
Stevens finished in first place in pole vault at the IVC Track Championships last season.
Rounding out the returning letterwinners will be sophomores Dylan Garretson (Pole Vault/Sprints/Middle Distance), Jacob Robinson (Distance) and Tanner Norman (Hurdles/Middle Distance).
The Trojans will have nine incoming freshmen, and Lewis is excited to see what they can do.
"With nine brand new freshmen and some new upperclassmen joining the team this year, I am not sure who will emerge as our top performers," admitted Lewis, "but I am thrilled to have more runners and to see how each athlete will contribute to our team."
Other varsity track athletes include senior Chris Patterson; juniors Daniel Russell and Calvin Ringer; and sophomores Steven Dingus, Kyler McNichols, Marcus Goodwin, Matthew Goff and Rees Creager.
The nine incoming freshmen include Hunter Garretson, Chace Bryant, Wyatt Connor, Dylan Donathan, Dangelo Gonzalez, Gavin Sholosky, Michael Unbowers, Jace Hickman and Mitchell Stull.
"I am really looking forward to all of our new teammates," stated Lewis. "I know they are all going to step up and contribute to our program.
"We are continuing to build our numbers and honing in our athletic abilities," he concluded. "The dedication of our athletes has shown positive results for what I hope to be a really good season."
The Trojans will be without graduates Braden Taylor and Mason Walkup.
Taylor qualified for the Division III District Meet last season and won the long jump at the IVC Track Championships.
For the girls, numbers are down this year, but Lewis is still happy with the effort this year's team has put in during the preseason.
"It is a little smaller team this year than we had last year," said the NHS coach, "but the girls that I have out have been working so hard. Several of the girls did things in the offseason to work out and get ready for the year. With that you can see improvements in their jumps and times already, which is great.
"Even though our numbers are down, I am still really excited," continued Lewis. "It is nice to see that the girls are excited and ready to step up and carry the weight."
The Lady Trojans will have 14 athletes competing, with half of them being returning letterwinners.
Returning letterwinners for Newcomerstown include juniors Amaris Wells (sprints), Destiney Grewell (hurdles/sprints) and Erin Lynch (long Jump/sprints) followed by sophomores Katelyn Glazer (sprints), Jade Johnson (throws), Azure Kitzmann (sprints) and Trew Davis (distance).
Johnson placed second in discus and fourth in shot put at the IVC Track Championships last year while Wells finished fourth in the 100 and 200 sprints.
Other varsity track runners for the Lady Trojans are sophomores Candace Offman and Savannah Sugars along with freshmen Bella Deboer, Karen Miller, Brianna Walkup, Kim Halsey and Jade Deurson.
There were no graduation losses on the girls' side and there are no seniors again this year, but Coach Lewis is still looking forward to have a lot of experienced athletes returning.
"We aren't losing any girls to graduation this year again," said Lewis. "It is nice to have some girls who have been in the program to lead the team and be role models for the freshmen and younger athletes.
"I am really looking forward to the girls that are out to continue to better themselves and do very well in the upcoming season," he added.
Newcomerstown will host the J.D. Milburn Relays on Saturday, April 1; the Ernie Art Invitational on April 22; and the Inter-Valley Conference Championship Meet on May 12.