BOYS’ TRACK AND FIELD
Since head coach Chad Lakatos has guided Edwardsville boys’ track and field they’ve enjoyed a nice run, which doesn’t look to end in 2017.
The Tigers finished runner-up to East St. Louis at the 3A state meet in ‘16, following a state championship in ‘15 and another second place in ‘14. Overall under Lakatos, they have three runner-ups and that state title.
Lakatos has a couple simple rules as the template for his program.
“Work hard, buy in and keep your grades up,” he said.
Working hard may be easier for the Tigers from seeing the fruits of their labor.
A.J. Epenesa and Travis Anderson are testaments to that. Both won state titles as juniors last season. Epenesa won the discus with a throw of 205 feet, 11 inches, while Anderson took first in the 110-meter high hurdles in 13.71 seconds. Epenesa was also second in shot put and Anderson was third in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles and the third leg of the 4x100-meter relay which finished sixth.
“I told them they had a great year, but it’s a new year and they’re not going to hand you the gold,” Lakatos said. “They better work just as hard this year as they did last year because nothing is guaranteed, not on the track or in life.”
Senior DeVonte’ Tincher will be a key piece. Tincher finished seventh in the long jump at state last year (22-3) and was the second leg on the 4x1.
D.J. Harlan, Matt Swanson, Kendall Davis, Daval Torres, Matt Griebe and a young distance crew will also contribute, according to Lakatos.
Sophomore Dionte Rodgers is out after a football season where he set the record for touchdowns. Lakatos said those types of additions are key to growing the program.
“Having somebody like Dionte come out, people looked up to him in football and maybe he’ll get two or three guys out just because he’s out,” Lakatos said.
The Southwestern Conference will provide a tough schedule again. East Side and EHS going first and second in the state attests to the talent in the SWC.
“Those guys get you ready for what we see up north,” Lakatos said. “East St. Louis beating us at state last year puts a sour taste in my mouth, but they’re a great team and they were better than us at that point.”
The Tigers will have a fairly inexperienced group in 2017 but will have plenty of versatility as they look for their 34th straight season with 20-plus wins.
Edwardsville finished 29-8 overall and 11-3 in the SWC last year, losing 8-4 to Belleville West in the Class 4A Belleville West Regional finals.
Andrew Frank (4-2, 3.39 ERA) and Andrew Yancik (4-1, 1.30 ERA) will anchor the pitching staff.
Outfielder Dylan Burris and infielders Kade Burns, Joel Quirin and Yancik are back with the most experience at the plate. Quirin is the only Tiger back with more than 100 plate appearances a year ago.
Freshman Drake Westcott (6-3, 230) could provide a boost filling in at first and third base. He has big-time projectable power.
With returning talent, Edwardsville is set for another successful season in 2017.
The Tigers have won 16 straight sectional tournaments and at least owned a share of 16 consecutive SWC titles.
Sophomore Zach Trimpe and junior Alex Gray headline a talented group after finishing fourth in doubles at state in ‘16. Edwardsville was eighth in the state as a team.
Senior Erik Weiler (singles) and sophomore Seth Lipe (doubles) were also state qualifiers a year ago.
“We have some returning skill players and there are challenges this year figuring out how things are going to fit together,” EHS head coach Dave Lipe said. “We returned a lot of talent, but we also return kids with talent who worked hard in their offseason. Those kids are better today than they were a year ago today… It’s an experienced group, but there are inherent challenges with that.”
The only seniors on the roster are Weiler and Ben Bequette, and Lipe expects leadership from them.
“I expect Erik and Ben as our two varsity seniors to provide a lot of leadership,” Lipe said. “We’ve got some kids in the junior and sophomore classes that are providing leadership, but from Erik, I expect him to compete with a lot of poise. He’s very competitive and loves tennis. I expect Erik to be among the best players in the area. I think we have three boys on this team who could be the best player in the area.”
Logan Pursell, Logan Kuhns and Jason Pan round out the varsity lineup.
Last season EHS finished 18-3-1 overall and 5-0-1 in the SWC to share the title with Collinsville.
The Tigers’ season ended in a 2-1 loss on penalty kicks at the Class 4A Granite City Regional to the host Warriors. With a slew of key returners, they’re looking to advance deeper this year.
Senior Abigail Crabtree, a Purdue recruit, looks to lead the way. She scored a team-high 16 goals as a junior. Other key players will be seniors Ashlin West (10 goals), Mallory Mushill (4 goals), Allysiah Belt (3 goals), Taylor Hansen (1 goal, 9 assists) and junior Megan Bowman (1 goal).
The Tigers look to build on another solid season in 2016 when they went 28-6 overall and 13-1 to win the SWC.
EHS’ season ended in a 9-5 loss to O’Fallon in the Class 4A Normal Community West Sectional semifinals.
Losing outfielder and leadoff hitter Rachel Anderson to graduation won’t be easy to replace, but seniors Sarah Hangsleben and Jordan Garella will be keys in that job.
Hangsleben hit .455 with 11 homers and 48 RBIs last year, while Garella went 20-4 with a 1.97 ERA in the circle.
Some other key returners are juniors Taryn Brown, Anna Burke, Jordyn Henricks and Emma Lewis.
Edwardsville was 18-14 a year ago and lost in the Metro East Lutheran Regional finals in straight games to rival Belleville West, 25-21, 25-20.
This year the Tigers will look to seniors Nick Allen, Jack Grimm and Will Bode to pace the offense and the defense. Allen is a right-side hitter, while Grimm is an outside hitter and Bode is a middle blocker.
Eric Brammeier, Curt Sellers, Evan Billiter and Drew Berthlett will contribute to the attacking, while Spencer Burbach and Bob Dresner will be key on defense and Ben Lombardi and Lucas Verdun will handle the setting.
GIRLS’ TRACK AND FIELD
Camilla Eberlin takes over the EHS girls’ track and field squad in 2017.
MiKala Thompkins resigned after five seasons and Eberlin was hired after directing the Lincoln Middle School boys’ track program for the previous eight years.
Only the 4x800-meter relay qualified for the 3A state meet last season, but their season came to an end in the preliminary round. A trio from that foursome is back for the Tigers with senior Victoria Vegher, junior Lorie Cashdollar and sophomore Maddie Miller.