Rain or shine, warm weather or cold weather, Bryan Wilson and Tyler Best always seem to be near each other whenever they race.

"They're like the Batman and Robin show," third-year Cuyahoga Falls head boys track and field coach Keith Nelman said. "Wherever Andrew is, you can find Tyler there too."

Thanks mainly to this dynamic duo, the Black Tigers will be led by their talented distance crew this year.

Wilson, a senior, recently reached the state indoor meet in the 800-meter race. His time of 1 minute, 59.88 seconds in the indoor 800 is a school record. Wilson also is planning to run the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races.

"Bryan is the backbone of our team," Nelman said. "He's the hardest worker on the team. If everything goes as planned, he has a shot to get to the state meet."

Best, a junior, isn't far behind his teammate.

"Tyler is good in all of the events that Andrew is in," Nelman said.

Despite the talents of these two distance standouts, Falls was hit hard by graduation.

The Black Tigers, who finished last at the 2013 Northeast Ohio Conference River Division Meet, lost a handful of kids to graduation, including several strong sprinters.

The biggest losses were Chris Harris, who won a district title in the 300-meter hurdles, and Austin Ward, a regional qualifier in the 400.

Other key losses were sprinters Thomas Breiding, who is running for the University of Akron, and Colten Lewis.

"Our sprinters are a big question mark, but I'm excited about them," Nelman said. "We have a lot of first-year guys. They have made huge improvements in each practice."

Fortunately for the Black Tigers, they won't be lacking when it comes to endurance.

Other distance standouts include senior Kyle Johnson, sophomore Caleb Freeman and freshmen Kyle Wilson and Cody Zrelak.

"Our distance guys are a bunch of hard workers," Nelman said. "We're excited for the future."

The sprinters' well isn't completely dry.

Senior Cameron Leymon returns and is expected to be the team's top speed threat. He is planning to compete in the 200- and 400-meter races.

"We're expecting big things from Cameron," Nelman said. "He's going to be a surprise."

Sophomore Josh Perry also is expected to be a key contributor in the sprinting events. He certainly made a lasting impression on his coach during last year's conference meet.

"I had an athlete go down and Josh said, 'Put me in, coach. I'm ready,'" Nelman said. "I was so impressed with him for doing that. He's going to have a good year."

Nelman's two leading hurdlers are sophomore Steele Porter and junior Brandon Hotchkiss.

"Steele is a very strong kid," Nelman said. "He has the strength, the speed and the form. He just has to put it all together.

"Brandon was running right behind Chris Harris in the hurdles last year. It's his year to step up and be a leader."

Other hurdlers who has gotten Nelman's attention are senior Kevin de LaTour, who is expected to focus on the 300-meter hurdles, and sophomore Brandon Pluchinski.

"Kevin is a great leader and hard worker," Nelman said. "He really enjoys track. I really believe his hard work will pay off. Brandon is becoming a real natural."

The throwers include 2013 All-River Division standout Bucky Hendershot, a senior, classmate Tim Breiding and junior Sampson Demand.

Juniors Josiah Alvis and Zach Weis have shown plenty of hops when they've been on the basketball court. Now they will get a chance to showcase their talents in the high jump.

"Both guys can jump out of a gym," Nelman said. "They came to me in the winter and said they would love to try to come out for the high jump. That's one thing we've lacked in the past. They're going to be fun to watch."

Sophomore Donovan Taylor already appears to be in midseason form in the pole vault.

"Donovan wrestled all winter," Nelman said. "He only made it to one indoor meet and he broke his personal record by more than a foot. Last year, he broke the freshman record for the pole vault. I expect him to be in the top four in our league."

Senior Siddiq Samad is the team's top returning long jumper.

Nelman's assistant coaches are Bob Koch (distance), Don Noe (throwers) and Tom Taylor (pole vault).

Nelman said that Mayfield and Strongsville are the teams to beat in the River Division. Also in the River Division are Hudson, Stow-Munroe Falls and North Royalton.

Falls was scheduled to compete in the Mike Beaven Invitational March 29 at Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron. Results were not available at press time.

The Black Tigers are set to host Akron Firestone April 2 at 4:30 p.m. before heading to the Longstreth Relays at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson. The Longstreth Relays are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

With chilly conditions still lurking in Northeast Ohio, Nelman's troops have been forced to make adjustments.

But such inclement weather has not gotten in Falls' way when it comes to training.

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