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Pacer track eyes TRL titles

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN Kelly O’Neill, left, and Madi Greenleaf return to the Pacers this year and will help make up a 4x400 relay team that could be the best in the state.

The Lakeridge track teams both have aspirations to win the district title this year and are loaded with talented individuals who could make waves at state as well.

The Lakeridge girls return an incredibly strong contingent that will look to win its fourth straight district meet and continue its league meet winning streak which stretches back nearly four years.

Lakeridge returns its entire 4x400 relay team which took third in state last year.

That team includes one of the league's top sprinters in Krissy Hengesh, Madi Greenleaf, a state qualifier in both hurdles events last year, Sydney Lautze, who coach Ken James believes could crack one minute in the 400 this year, and Kelly O'Neill, one of the state's top distance runners.

"I think we should probably be one of the favorites in that event this year," James said.

Along with Hengesh, Lauren King, Marissa Miller, Ranya Al-Khaledy and Saskia McNairy make up a strong sprinting contingent.

Anne Mueller will combine with Greenleaf to take on the hurdling events. Mueller will also compete in the long jump and triple jump, an event where she was a state qualifier last year.

Lakeridge's distance crew will be led by O'Neill who, in the team's first dual meet, turned in a PR and the fastest time in the state so far in the 800.

"She's had a really good winter of training and looks really strong," James said.

Lia Newman, Michelle Buncke and Sienna Allen will also be strong in the distance events this season.

In the field, Kyleigh Young will be one of the league's top competitors in the discus, shot put and particularly the javelin.

Along with Hengesh, Young will look to be a state qualifier for the fourth straight year this season.

Kavita Rajani and Kelsey Walker will also help the Pacers in the throws this season.

McNairy is expected to be very solid in the long jump and triple jump this season along with Kayla Brase and Mueller while sophomore Madi Moxness will be the team's top high jumper.

In the pole vault, Nicole Kangas is the fifth-best returner in that event in the league.

"The girls are pretty motivated this year. We don't have many weak spots," James said.

For the boys, Lakeridge hopes this proves to be a breakout season.

"We have gradually been making strides towards being a competitive team at the district level. We're now in a position to contend for the title," boys coach Joe Schloetter said.

In the sprints, Lakeridge will be led by Alex Alamida and Nicholas Yun while Spencer Russell and Michael Walker expect to be among the league's best in the middle distances.

Lakeridge also has a very strong contingent in the distance events, led by Julian Heninger and Mubark Mebrat who were each among the league's best in cross country last fall.

The Pacers have a deep and talented hurdles crew led by Trent Riggs, Reilly Kirk, Nicholai Busch and Dominic Eros.

In the field, Busch figures to be very strong in the javelin this season.

Russell, Alamida and Yun could also be among the best jumpers in the league, competing in both the long jump and triple jump.

"We are a well-rounded team and will rely on that depth," Schloetter said.

The Pacers are returning athletes who scored at the district meet in 12 of 17 events.

Lakeridge's next meet will be the East County Classic this Friday.