Whether it was training with the Dublin Coffman men’s track team this spring or last fall’s cross-country program, Noah Clemens admits long runs aren’t always thrill-filled.
He said it’s the relationships built during this time that are worth the work.
“Running isn’t always the most fun, but we like to make it fun,” Clemens said. “I feel like we know how to have fun together and get the job done. We talk all the time and we hang out a lot too.
The memories the Shamrocks have made outside of competition have helped them prepare – especially in distance events – for what could be a solid season during an overall transition period.
Following the departure of Kathryn Slaven after leading the program for five seasons, James Legins took over as coach.
A 2006 Westerville North graduate who was a middle-distance runner for the Warriors, Legins was an assistant to the Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit from 2012-2015, served as a volunteer assistant to Baldwin Wallace in 2016, returned to the Walsh Jesuit as a as an assistant in 2017. and served as head coach there in 2018 and 2019. He did not coach last spring after the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Last time I checked, we had just over 100 boys, so it just takes a little while to get to know them, but it’s going pretty well,” Legins said. “As a global band, we want them to keep doing what they’ve been doing and have fun with it and stay in the moment.”
In last year’s Regional Division I Clemens 3,200-meter relay, 2021 graduate Braden Shoaf and junior returnees Liam Shaughnessy and Will McGraw finished sixth (8 minutes, 8.1 seconds), Shaughnessy a finished fifth in the 1600 (4:22.86) and 10th in the 3,200 (9:46.04) and McGraw placed seventh in the 1,600 (4:28.89).
After helping the Shamrocks rank second in the state in cross country last fall, Isaac Frank, Clemens, McGraw and Shaughnessy could team up on this year’s 3200 relay.
“The team is as deep as you could ask for,” Shaughnessy said. “Everyone is giving their best every day and that’s what will set us apart from other teams this year. I see it as something that stems much more from work ethic and team culture rather than some sort of luck or sheer talent, which is what a lot of upper class men have worked to incorporate in our program and can see it working now.
“The training we’re engaging in is pretty intense and will absolutely pay off, so it’s going to be about bouncing around the different events and seeing what sticks best.”
While Legins calls the distance crew the “backbone” of the program, senior Evan Jajack gives the sprint corps a veteran to lean on.
At last year’s District 1 meet, Jajack competed in the 800 relay which finished sixth (1:31.48), and he’s also one of the top long jumpers on the team.
Other sprinters include juniors Michael Anderson, Jaden Cooper and Jalen Manu and second Zach Beckman.
Freshman Jacob Bolton and sophomore Zacary Heyob bring depth to the distance events.
“We’ve been doing a lot of strength and conditioning this year, so hopefully we’ll be good to go,” Jajack said. “Last year, our (800 relay) was very strong. Our training has been good and I’m excited.
•Coach: James Legins, first season
• High level athletes: Michael Anderson, Noah Clemens, Jaden Cooper, Isaac Frank, Evan Jajack, Jaylen Manu, Will McGraw and Liam Shaughnessy
• Key losses: Robert Moloney, Braden Shoaf and Mick Smith
• OCC-Central 2021 ranking: Olentangy Orange (137), Hilliard Davidson (104), Coffman (92), Olentangy Liberty (76), Hilliard Bradley (65), Upper Arlington (49)
• Post-season 2021: Sixth in district, 23rd in regional
•Coach: Kalvin McRae, fifth season
• High level athletes: Sam Boggess, CC Ezirim, Peter Hollern, Jayden Randolph, Sam Ricchiuti and Carson Smith
• Key losses: Jordan Gross and Silas Kayuha
• OCC-Cardinal 2021 ranking: Thomas Worthington (128), Hilliard Darby (111), Olentangy Berlin (87), Jerome (80), Marysville (63), Olentangy (54)
• Post-season 2021: Tied for seventh in district, 19th in regional, tied for 16th in state
•Outlook: With around 125 athletes out, depth should be a strong suit for coach Kalvin McRae’s team.
Senior Carson Smith was a regional qualifier in the 800, and he joined juniors Jayden Randolph and Sam Boggess and second Sam Ricchiuti in the 3200 relay at regional. The 1600 relay of Smith, junior Peter Hollern and 2021 graduates Jordan Gross and Silas Kayuha also reached regional.
Senior CC Ezirim is expected to be a key sprinter and long jumper. Others are expected to contribute including seniors Adam Khalil (discus, shot put) and Paul Miller (discus, shot put), juniors Joonho Oh (sprints, pole vault), Josh Razor (distance), Praj Sachan (sprints) and Theo Williams (long jump, high jump) and sophomores Michael Ezirim (sprints) and Benjamin Lam (sprints, shot put, high jump).
The Celtics are to replace Kayuha, who won the program’s first state title by clearing the 110 hurdles (14.36) last season.
• Quoteable: “It’s going to be an interesting season. We have a lot of holes to fill, mixed with returning athletes, but we have more holes to fill than returning talent. CC is probably going to be one of our best sprinters and he’s going to do the long jump for us as well. I love the pitchers we have. We need to get some of those questions answered to see who our invite guys are going to be. The season is flying out and before you know it, we’ll be in the conference and the district. —McRae
•Coach: Brian Brillon, first season
• High level athletes: Weston Day, Amare Jenkins, Spencer McClellan, Bryce Page and Reece Page
• Key losses: Zion Freeman-Walker, Ali Latif, Andrew Leonard and Trevor Page
• OCC-Capital 2021 ranking: Winchester Canal (174), Big Walnut (142.5), Westerville South (99), Scioto (70), Worthington Kilbourne (62.5), Westerville North (60), Delaware (49), Franklin Heights (4)
• Post-season 2021: Ninth in district, didn’t score at regional
•Outlook: Scioto has a new coach for the first time in a quarter century as Brian Brillon replaced Kevin Foley, who stepped down after 25 seasons. Brillon was previously a volunteer coach for the Irish.
Scioto will be led by a strong contingent of distance runners including senior Spencer McClellan and junior Bryce Page, who joined 2021 graduates Andrew Leonard and Trevor Page on the 10th 3200 stint (8:10.06) at regional.
Junior Reece Page and second Weston Day are other key distance runners.
Senior Amare Jenkins will compete in the sprints, hurdles and long jump, and junior Aaron Weeks is another sprinter.
Brillon, who is a massage therapist for the Columbus Crew and Ohio State Athletics, previously served as a horizontal jumps coach for Ohio State and Otterbein and served as an assistant coach at Worthington Christian.
He is the husband of female track and field coach Stacey Brillon.
• Quoteable: “I want to create an atmosphere where student-athletes can get a role model for the next level — whether it’s college athletics, the military, work, college. … We need to deepen the league season. We have a young team. — Brillon