Viola woman starring for Scots

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

 The Monmouth College men’s and women’s track teams have won 38 of a possible 40 Midwest Conference indoor and outdoor track championships in the last 10 years and head coach Roger Haynes hopes he can cook up another batch of titles in 2011.

“I think we’ve got some new kids that will strengthen the mix,” said Haynes. “It’s much like cooking a good meal. It takes more than the basic entrée to make a complete meal. We have some new kids that are excited about track and want to be coached. We already have a strong bunch of returners and that combination has been fun for the coaches. The first week has been pretty positive. Environment goes a long way toward success and we’ve had a good environment so far.”

The environment since Haynes took over the men’s program 27 years ago has been a winning one. The men have won 36 team titles over that period and the women have 20 team crowns to their credit in the 11 years he has been guiding that program. Thanks to solid recruiting in the past and another good round last season, Monmouth could be on the verge of a special season.

The Scots return a very solid core of men and women for this season, including 2010 national outdoor high jump champion Tyler Hannam (Woodhull, Ill./AlWood), as well as 14 other athletes who have accounted for 26 league titles in 18 events. Logan Hohl (Orion, Ill./Orion), who has four hurdle titles and a relay crown, is back for his senior season, as is Brock McAnally (Crystal Lake, Ill./South), who has three pole vault titles to his credit, one outdoors and two indoors. Hohl could capture his fourth indoor 55-meter hurdle title and McAnally is gunning for his third straight indoor pole vault title. Peyton Lumzy (Dixon, Ill./Dixon) is another senior with multiple league titles in throwing events. Lumzy enters the season as the defending outdoor champion in the shot put.

Morgan Leffel (Viola, Ill./Sherrard) has been a jack-of-all-trades for the women. She earned an MWC title in the triple jump as a freshman and has since added a crown with the 4x100 relay team. The senior “do everything” performer can also pick up points in a variety of events from the sprints to the pole vault. Jae Moore (Peoria, Ill./Notre Dame) – another senior – continues Monmouth’s stable of quality sprinters and is the defending two-time 100-meter dash champion. In the throws, junior Amanda Streeter (Port Byron, Ill./Riverdale) is back to defend her hammer and back-to-back weight throw titles.

Although Hannam won a national title, he didn’t go through last season undefeated. Defending conference indoor high jump champion Nick Byom (Gilson, Ill./Knoxville) returns for his final season, making for a point-getting 1-2 punch with Hannam.  

“We have a very veteran group in the field events,” reported Haynes. “We should be very good in the high jump as well as the pole vault where (senior) Jeremy Henkins (Kewanee, Ill./Kewanee) will join Brock to give us a pair of solid vaulters.”

Mike Blodgett (Northfield, Minn./Appleton North) and Nick Law (Heyworth, Ill./Heyworth) add more senior flavor in the long and triple jumps. Sam Cokinos (St. Charles, Ill./East) – yet another senior – joins Lumzy in the throws.

“It’s always good when you can start with a pair of seniors in any event,” said Haynes in reference to the field events. “We think we’ve made enough changes that we can get them over the hump from conference champions to national qualifiers. The older guys have had some discussion of making it to the national meet. That remains to be seen, but (at conference) I wouldn’t bet against Sam, Peyton and Brock to really make a statement. They’ve been very consistent and that gives you the opportunity for a breakout performance. They all have that ability.”

On the track, the men expect more seniors to pave the way. Saidu Sesay (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) and Kyle Prout (Chillicothe, Ill./IVC) headline the returning sprint group. Distance men Tim Bentz (Dixon, Ill./Dixon) and Geoff Bird (Kenilworth, Ill./New Trier) – who ran to a second place finish in cross country last fall – will anchor that group, but the Scots won’t be hurting when it comes to the middle distances either.

“We probably have the most kids coming in at the 200 through the mile,” reported Haynes. “We have some good, talented guys there that could make an immediate difference.”

 No less than five freshman are expected to contribute. Karston Anderson (La Grange, Ill./Lyons Township) will join Hohl in the hurdles and is also touted as a threat in the sprints. The 400/800 tandem of Eric Brown (Montgomery, Ill./Oswego East) and Garrett Daniel (Glenwood, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor) bolster the Scots’ veteran squad in the middle distances. Kiante Green (Chicago, Ill./St. Patrick) will likely run the 200 and 400 events, but he could compete in anything up to the 800. Joe Levita (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland) is a miler with state qualifier experience from high school. Adam Sanden (Manlius, Ill./Bureau Valley) is expected to do “very well” in the jumps and sprints. Sophomore DeAndre Smith (Carbondale, Ill./Carbondale) moves from football to track and is a “solid shot and discus guy.”

Monmouth’s men don’t have the corner on the Scots market when it comes to a complete package. The women also have a strong veteran-to-rookie mix.

 “We feel like we’ll be strong across the board,” claimed Haynes. “I don’t know if we’ve got anyone who is exceptionally strong at the national level, but that remains to be seen. We do have good people that will push each other. Our depth is certainly deeper than it was a year ago.”

 Mary Kate Beyer (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria) is fresh off her first All-American performance in cross country and is ready for her senior season in the distance events. She’ll lead a young, but veteran group that includes sophomores Rachel Bowden (Lexington, Ill./Lexington) and Aron Jackson (Annawan, Ill./Annawan).

 “They had great outdoor seasons in the 800 and 1500,” praised Haynes of Bowden and Jackson. “We expect them to be solid there again.”

Like Beyer, Whitney Didier (Dixon, Ill./Dixon) and Heather Hull (Cambridge, Ill./Cambridge) are ready for one last go ‘round. Didier enters her final campaign as the defending league pole vault champion and Hull will have one last shot at a high jump title, where newcomer Emily Tysma (Hillsdale, Ill./Riverdale) is being counted on for added depth. Didier could get more freshman company in the vault with the addition of Morgan Ryan (Metamora, Ill./Metamora), who Haynes calls a “very good” vaulter. She may also see action in the long jump and hurdle events.

Maureen Dewan (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) is the lone senior in the throws and could move up in the rotation with the graduation of six-time conference champion Gloria Lehr. She’ll still have to battle with Streeter and sophomore Allison Devor (St. Charles, Ill./East), as well as newcomers and state qualifiers in high school, shot put specialist Amber Ruter (Princeton, Ill./Princeton) and discus thrower Raven Robinson (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods).

 “Maureen will get her chance this year,” predicted Haynes. “She’s been stacked in behind Gloria and that group that’s been very good.”

Speaking of good, the Scots could be very good in the jumps. Sophomore Chelsey Widdop (Reynolds, Ill./Rockridge) has “committed herself” to the long jump and high jump and could have an impact in an already deep field.

“She’s a capable athlete,” said Haynes. “She needs to get a bit more sound technically, but she’s got a chance to be very good.” 

Bailey Johnson (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg) – a newcomer – is a multi-talented athlete who could help in a number of events. A long and triple jumper, Johnson is also expected to see plenty of action in the sprints. Another sprinting newcomer – Kimarri Campbell (Sterling, Ill./Rock Falls) – has “Monmouth” experience after running in high school for former Scots’ standout Chris Lacy. The Scots expect to get the services of versatile freshman Marla Willard (Pittsfield, Ill./Pittsfield) once she completes her basketball season. Willard is touted as a quality high jumper who could also run the 400 and 800. Freshman Kenzie Payton (Alexis, Ill./Galesburg) is projected to be a difference maker in the 200 and 400.

Sophomores with cross country experience will try to transfer that to the oval. Alyssa Edwards (Waterloo, Ill./Waterloo) comes in off a strong cross country season and is expected to compete in the 800 and mile. Brittney Frazier (Lombard, Ill./Glenbard East) and Marlee Lane (Round Lake Beach, Ill./Grayslake North) improved their fall seasons and are being counted on to be a force in the middle distance events.

The Scots’ tried and true recipe for success will see some new ingredients in the mixing bowl as well as the old standbys, but Haynes is counting on the same end result.

“It’s the same basic approach for us,” said Haynes. “It’s simply a matter of us taking care of our business. We need to develop three solid people in each event and have the depth to cover whatever mistake we might make. The freshmen have to be key ingredients. I think they’re good enough, we just have to get them ready. We’ve got the people with the abilities, but we have to put them in the right position to be ready at the right time. Obviously, freshmen are different than juniors or seniors, so we have to get them seasoned correctly over the first five or six meets in order to have them ready to compete at the conference meet.”

The Scots will get a chance to begin the seasoning process this weekend at the Knox Invitational, before hosting their own meet on Jan. 22.