Athletes looking to get back on track in the face of real competition

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Runners around the track during the men’s 1600 meters event at the 2019 DODEA Europe Athletics Final. After a canceled 2020 season and a virtual championship last year, athletes are hoping for a traditional end to the season starting this weekend. (Michael Abams/Stars and Stripes)

“Warriors…come out to play-ay.”

It’s the most memorable line from a cult movie, “The Warriors,” produced long before Makiah Parker and Ava Stout were born.

But the two Wiesbaden stars will be able to heed that advice from Saturday as DODEA Europe returns fully to the track for the first time in over two years. Thankfully, the competition the two Warriors face won’t suffer the same fate as the film’s villain who quickly regretted those words.

Parker, a freshman at last year’s virtual championships, won the 100, 200, 400 and anchored the winning team in the 4×400 relay. Stout, a sophomore a year ago, was also on the 4×400 relay team and dominated the competition in the 100 and 300 hurdles.

Now, a year later, the two hope to help Wiesbaden repeat as women’s champions.

“While we appreciate the fact that we had the opportunity to ‘compete’ last year, it’s just not the same virtually,” said coach Jessica Jacobs. “There’s something about going up against another school, an opposing competitor that brings out something about your athletes that you just can’t replicate in a virtual format.”

Stout, in particular, won impressively week after week in the hurdles staged last year, with each school meeting at home tracks and then comparing the results to other schools. It was a marked improvement from the previous year when no competitions were held due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The two aren’t the only ones to stand out on Wiesbaden’s list. Jacobs also listed juniors Faith Maina, Kendall Kaloostian and Mary Kemmer (relay teams), senior Theresa Carballo (shot put), senior Elijah Smith and junior Zach Watts (relay) as athletes to watch.

And there could be more Warriors stars making their debuts this season.

“Although we have lost some seniors or athletes due to the PCS season, we are fortunate to have new talent and underclasses coming in,” Jacobs said. “These athletes are ready to leave their mark and impact our success going forward.”

Kaiserslautern won the boys’ competition a year ago and finished second in the girls’ competition. And with dozens of individual and team events up for grabs at the May 20-21 final in Kaiserslautern, athletes from many schools are likely to step onto the top step of the podium.

A look at what coaches responding to a query from Stars and Stripes say their teams will look like in April and May:

AFNORTH

Paulo Aponte (800), Marques Williams (long jump) and Tori Morris (high jump) have the most experience for AFNORTH, according to coach Mark Jackson.

The Lions have 30 absent athletes, including two newcomers to watch, second-year Spencer Johnson and freshman Richele Reyes.

“The kids are so excited to compete in person again,” Jackson said.

Rotation

Coach Carie Sundberg has gone from assistant at Brussels to head coach at Rota. She has 19 athletes absent for the team and only one who ranked in the virtual competition: her eldest daughter, Daphne (third in the 100 and 300 hurdles, sixth in the triple jump and seventh in the long jump).

Sundberg lists seniors Kye McGrady (sprints, middle distances) and Brianna Leiba (sprints, jumps) and sophomores Brian Leiba (sprints, jumps) and Sophia Dickkut (sprinter) as others to watch.

Black Forest Academy

Black Forest only had one athlete competing in the virtual finals. Senior Colby Liesen (400, 800, long jump, triple jump) earned a second-place finish for the school in the boys’ Division II.

This year, the school has 49 athletes to compete at the DI level, about a quarter of the school’s workforce.

Coach Caleb Turner said athletes to watch include juniors Josh Jung (jumps, sprints) and Josiah Alexander (triple jump, distance), freshmen Jacob Alexander (shot put, long jump, sprints) and Nathan Gray (long jump, sprints) and second Samuel. Yakuba (jumps, middle distance) for boys. Senior Zoe Miller (sprints, long jump) and Kiki Dunette (throwing events) lead the girls.

Ansbach

Seniors Lucas Morecraft (400, jumps), Jeremiah Tran (discus, hurdles, 400) and Delana Creech (200, 400) are back for a final season at Ansbach and joined by returning sophomore Brody Hoctor (400, 800 , high jump), Laila McIntyre (jumps, 400) and Trinity Batin (hurdles, jumps).

Coach Shannon Daniels has around 30 athletes absent, including newcomers to watch Ryan Surens-Garcia (high jump, 200, 400), Grace Robinson (jumps, sprints) Gabby Hursey (shot put, discus) and transfers Allison Schuck (SHAPE – shot put, discus) and Tamia McLaughlin (Texas – jumps, sprints).

[email protected] Twitter: @kharris4stripes

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