Season Preview: City reloads for shot at history

   Half a point is all that separated Columbia City girls’ track and field from history in 2009.
   Coming off a dominating sectional championship in 2010, the Lady Eagles are setting out for another shot at history.
   “We want to win, for the first time ever, two sectionals back-to-back,” Columbia City head coach Bob Fahl said. “We’ve never done it and we’ve got the right group to be able to do that.”
   The Lady Eagles haven’t finished below second-place at the sectional in over four years.
   Columbia City heads into the 2011 season looking for a third sectional title in four seasons without its’ two state finalist.
   The Lady Eagles strength has been in the field over the last four seasons. Combined with the loss of state finalists pole vaulter Mallory Vandersaul and high jumper Kinsey Kauffman, Fahl admits there is   some rebuilding to do.
   “We took a heavy hit in the field events,” Fahl noted of his graduated seniors. “Between the pole vault, high jump and throwing events we lost a lot of points.
   “It’s going to come down to if we can make up the difference in points. The people we lost were quality seniors. They always gave us points.”
   As much as last season was about seniors, the Lady Eagles bring back nine seniors and add nine freshmen.
   The Lady Eagles get a big lift to make up for the losses in the field.
   Freshman Kalisha Goree has made news at the AAU Nationals as a youth in a series of events ranging from long jump, sprints, and hurdles.
   “She’s got indications to be very, very good,” Fahl said of Goree. “The key on her is ‘can we keep her injury-free.’”
   The depth for Columbia City in the distance events weighs in as one of the biggest strengths for the Lady Eagles.
   Bringing over a cross country state finalist team, Columbia City gets the experience of seniors Renee Menzie, Laken LeFever and Samantha Engle back.
   Making for a dynamic duo of freshmen, Samantha Roush and Brooke Werstler join the distance team to give what LeFever says is relief for other runners.
   “It’s a big positive having the freshmen we had from cross country,” LeFever said.
   The hurdle events bring back a double sectional champion in senior Corinna Raypole.
   A sixth-place finish at regional capped off her season last year. Raypole is looking to better that.
   “I’m hoping to get the school record because I’m not far off,” Raypole said. “Sectional championship and conference are definitely goals too.”
   A pleasant surprise at the end of last season came in what was supposed to be a weak area for City.
   The sprints.
   Sophomore Megan Deutsch changed that grabbing her first sectional title as a freshman.
   “We knew she was good but had no idea she was that good,” Fahl admitted. “She came out injured last year but at this point she’s not. She’ll definitely help us in the sprints and 4-by-100 relay.”
   The official outdoor season gets underway March 21 with the first of four home meets against Warsaw.