Stow boys track primed for big season

Steve Batko
Stow-Munroe Falls Bulldogs

All the hard work has been done by the Stow-Munroe Falls boys track and field program to kick off this season running strong.

As four-year head coach J.K. LeSeure looks for the safety measures to just happen in the background, he is relishing the moment these kids can competitively just get out and run, jump and throw.

Some of that elation came during the state indoor championships, which went pretty well for Stow.

LeSeure and his staff is ready to take the next step – outdoors and in league action.

“During the winter we had to train in small groups and meet in different parts of the campus to keep exposure to a minimum and we are fortunate here in Stow to have a sizable campus with room to spread out and so we’ve been able to manage it well,” said LeSeure.

Things are getting back to normal with minimal changes for now.

“As we’ve moved outdoors, we have more space and so the approach feels more normal,” noted the Bulldog coach. “Meets will be smaller and we’re going to some different invitationals this year due to reduced field sizes, but those are the biggest changes this year.”

Even though the freshman and sophomore classes are relatively new, Stow has a very nice mix of veterans and newcomers to compete this spring.

“We have added protocols to follow and procedures are different, but at the end of the day, those are all just things we have to manage,” said LeSeure.

“Once we step on the track, or the runway, and into the circle, it’s still about athletes giving their all and competing to the best of their ability."

Making its home and Suburban League debut against Brecksville March 31, Stow is excited to get the season off and running. The meet starts at 4 p.m.

The Bulldogs will compete at North Royalton in a league meet April 7 at 4:30 p.m. and will run at the Nordonia Knight Relays April 10 at 10 a.m. before hosting two league rivals Wadsworth and Nordonia on April 14 and April 21. Both meets start at 4 p.m.

Stow then goes on the road for league meets at Twinsburg April 27 and at Hudson April 29 before hosting arch-rival Cuyahoga Falls May 5. Those meets start at 4 p.m.

“Our athletes have proven this entire year how strong, focused, and resilient they are,” said LeSeure.

The Suburban League National Conference will be deep and challenging as those teams look to navigate through lineups and establish goals.

“We are a pretty balanced team this year with strong proven athletes in many events,” said LeSeure. “This should make us very competitive across the entire league and give us a shot to compete for the league title this season.”

A slew of gifted seniors who contributed in 2019 as sophomores will head this year’s club along with some talented underclassmen.

Senior Seth Macura is back. As a sophomore, Macura ran a leg in the regional qualifying 3,200-meter relay team in 2019. He is versatile and can be used in a host of relays and open races.

“Macura set school records in both the 800-meter and 1600-meter indoors and finished ninth in the 800 at the indoor finals,” pointed out LeSeure, alluding to the OATCCC Division I indoor state championships in early March.

Macura’s time in the 800 was 1-minute and 57.77 seconds.

Junior Xavier Preston is back too after a strong 2019 campaign and an even bigger indoor season!

The speedy Preston ran in the 200-meter dash in districts as a freshman in 2019 and had a strong time of 23.72 seconds, but LeSeure is excited over what Preston did in the indoor season.

“Preston is coming off an outstanding indoor season where he set records in the 60-meters, 200-meters and was part of both the 800-meter and 1,600-meter record-setting relays,” noted his coach.

“At the State Indoor Finale, he was the runner-up in the 200 meters and fourth in the 60-meters,” said LeSeure.

In the indoor 200 state meet, Preston was timed at 21.85 seconds. His time in the 60-meter dash was 6.95 ticks.

Senior Clayton Mosher is another veteran who can do some damage in a few events.

In 2019, Mosher was sixth in districts in the long jump.

“Mosher also had an outstanding indoor season finishing the season with a second-place long jump as well being a part of the school record 800-meter relay,” disclosed LeSeure.

In the indoor state meet, Mosher reached 21-9.75 feet in the long jump.

Joining Preston and Mosher on the third-place 800-meter relay (1:31.16) are seniors Jo Barry and Mykal Azar.

The school record 1,600-meter relay (3:29.51) included Barry, sophomore brothers Bryce Turner and Brian Turner, and Preston.

“In addition to his contributions on our record setting relay teams, Jo Barry will carry the load in the hurdle events for us during the outdoor season,” noted the Bulldog coach.

Azar lends a plethora of event options for the Bulldogs as well.

According to LeSeure, senior Stephen Mangira will head the shot put and discus throws this spring.

“Stephen will be our guy in the throws this year,” proclaimed the Stow coach.

Top newcomers to watch, according to the coach, include sophomore Zach Shawala as well as the Turner brothers – Bryce and Brian Turner. Bryce Turner ran 19th in the indoor meet in the 400-meter race.

“Zach is a sophomore we expect to see big things from this season in the distance events after a pair of successful cross-country seasons and a big indoor season this year,” said LeSeure.

“Brian Turner is expected to continue his outstanding indoor season as he heads into his first outdoor track season,” said the coach.

Division I Stow will be looking for relays and individual opportunities to qualify to regionals and possibly to the state meet in what should prove to be an intriguing season.

“Coming off our successful indoor season we are very excited for this outdoor season and believe we can be very competitive everywhere we compete this season,” pointed out LeSeure.

“Our coaches are so proud of the grit these kids have shown this past year and can’t wait to see it pay off for them this entire track season.”