Falls track looks to stay competitive despite lower numbers

Roger Gordon
Cuyahoga Falls

The numbers are down big time, likely due to COVID, but that does not deter 15th-year head coach Dan Scourfield from believing that his Cuyahoga Falls girls track and field team is going to have a fine season.

“We have about 30 fewer girls on the team than last year, but I still think we’re going to do pretty well,” he said. “We’re not going to be real deep, but I think with the talent that we have, we can compete with just about anybody in the area.”

The sprint group is where Scourfield has most of his returning athletes.

“I rely a great deal on my seniors,” he said. “This is a group of seniors that has been together since middle school. We knew, with that group coming in, that they were really going to be good. We saw a glimpse of it when they were freshmen and made the regional meet as a relay team. In 2019, they set a couple school records and made the state meet in the 800-meter relay and just missed making state in the 1,600-meter relay.

“It’s a very tight knit group. Last year was the year that we thought they were really going to make a breakthrough because everybody was back, but then the season was cancelled.”

Unfortunately, senior Jenai Blake is one sprinter who, because of a pulled ACL she suffered in soccer, will miss the entire season.

Emma Brustoski and Grace Lowe, Blake’s classmates, will lead the way in the sprints.

“We’re going to lean very heavily on Emma as one of our top returning sprinters,” said Scourfield. “She’s also going to be one of our top returning throwers. She’s going to throw the shot put and might even throw the discus. That doesn’t happen very often. It’s a unique combination.

“One of the reasons Emma is such a good thrower is because of her speed and the power that she generates throwing. Throwing is extremely explosive, and that’s what she brings whether it’s the shot put or the discus. We’re looking for her to maybe throw the discus because of the loss of Jenai, who was our number one discus thrower. We’re never had Emma throw in meets because she’s been so valuable as a sprinter. We’re going to experiment this year and see just how far she can throw the shot put.

“Grace is part of the sprint group, but she’s also our school record holder in the long jump, which she set two years ago. That year, she just missed going to the state meet in the long jump. We’re excited to have her back. I think she can definitely qualify for state in that event. She’s fast and is extremely powerful. She’s everything you look for in a long jumper.”

Other senior sprinters who look to contribute are Kayla Brown and Tiffany Snyder.

Four other sprinters who are expected to be point getters are junior Ruby Masl, sophomores Ellie Brustoski, Emma’s sister, and Natalie Polidoro and freshman Shaniyah Cherry.

“Ruby is a hurdler,” the coach said. “She’s more of a long hurdler than she is a short hurdler, so the 300 hurdles is more her specialty. I don’t have a lot of hurdlers, so I’m going to count on her a lot in the 300 hurdles. She’s also a pole vaulter.

“Ellie is going to be relied heavily upon as a hurdler and high jumper. She’s also going to be part of the sprint relays.

“Natalie sprinted in middle school. She looks really good so far in practice. I’m kind of excited to see what she’s going to be able to do.

“Shaniyah is not only an excellent sprinter, but she’s also an exceptional long jumper. I think between her and Grace, we’re probably going to have two of the best long jumpers in the area. Both can make it to state in that event. They have that kind of ability.”

The Black Tigers’ distance group is inexperienced, with only one senior in Kara Herman. Junior Elsa Lowry is the lone returning distance runner.

“It’s going to take a little bit of time for the younger girls to work their way in and get comfortable running in varsity races,” said Scourfield. “I’ve got quite a few juniors who I think are going to contribute – Kendall Walker, Laila Smith, who has looked really good in practice, and Rebecca Johnston.

“Some sophomores who I think are going to be pretty good are Teagan Barnett and Kloey Dunford, who’s looked real comfortable in practice. A couple of freshmen who I think are going to be really good are Katy Fox and Hailey Testa.”

Like the distance runners, the throwers have little experience, the only seniors being Emma Brustoski and Sofia Rehs.

“A junior who has shown a lot of promise so far this year is Elise Erhard. She looked really good as a freshman,” Scourfield said. “Sophomore Emma Aloisi has looked really good in practice so far and is a very powerful thrower.”

According to the coach, his team’s fortunes will depend on team members staying healthy and getting back on track after missing last season.

Scourfield is in his first season as head coach of the Cuyahoga Falls boys team.

We have experience coming back in the distance and sprint events,” he said.

The distance group will be led by senior Lukas Keverkamp and junior Koby Dunford.

“Lukas is a four-year letter winner in cross country. He’s going to be probably our No. 1 two-miler,” said Scourfield. “He’ll be doing the heavy lifting in the longer stuff. He ran at the indoor state meet two weeks ago.

“Koby was a regional qualifier this year in cross country. He’ll probably focus on the 800 and 1,600.”

Two others who look to be contributors to the distance events are sophomores Ethan Hatfield and Jacob Norton.

Pacing the sprinters will be seniors Christian Casto and Jaylen Powlowski.

“Christian is a 110 and 300 hurdler as well as a high jumper,” Scourfield said. “He’s an exceptional athlete, and he’s going to bring two years of experience. Jaylen is a sprinter but will also do the long jump for us.”

The lone returning pole vaulter will be senior Tyler Robinson.

Underclassmen looking to contribute to the sprint events are juniors Chris Dortch and Alex Moore and sophomores Brennan Glover and Owen Wallace.

Nordonia’s top thrower likely will be junior Zach Dalton, who competes in both the shot put and discus events. Other throwers looking to be point scorers are sophomores Tristan Ohler and Yousif Jaber.

Scourfield is hoping for good health and good progress from his team, which is composed of only 28 boys.

“The attitude has been great,” he said. “They’ve been working hard, and that’s all we can ask of them right now.”

Scourfield’s assistant coaches are Chris Nauer (throwers), Jake Hall (sprinters), Jacob Sprague (pole vaulters) and Stuart Davis (distance runners).

The Black Tigers are scheduled to open the season at home against Suburban League National Conference rival North Royalton April 1 at 4:30 p.m.