QZ93 Sports

Shade track team gets going tonight

In District 5, Shade, Shanksville, Track and Field, WestPAC on March 24, 2009 at 6:00 am

For many athletes in the Shade track program, today’s going to be a learning experience. The team will visit Chestnut Ridge this afternoon with nearly half the squad having never participated in a meet.

“We’ll be trying to find events they can have success in and trying to make them better from meet to meet,” said Shade track coach Dave Mapes in an interview with QZ93 Sports. “Many of them will have their first meet (tonight) at Chestnut Ridge.”

And when the Panthers get on the track with the Lions, they’ll also likely be facing a numbers deficit against the hosts.

“Last year (Chestnut Ridge) had 21 senior boys and I didn’t have 21 boys on the team,” said Mapes, who begins his seventh season as head coach. He has been assisted each of those seven years by Mark O’Ship.

While there might not be big numbers in the Shade program, which is a co-op with Shanksville, there are certainly some talented athletes for both the boys and girls.

Shanksville product Jacob Hetzer, a senior, returns to lead the sprinters while Shade athletes Sam Aikey and Matt Oravec, both juniors, and senior Kevin Weaver, will be expected to shoulder a sizable load for the Panthers.

Aikey can handle several different events for the Panthers, and was improving as a long jumper toward the end of last season. Oravec will likely compete in the high jump and 1,600-meter run while Weaver is a strong middle-distance runner.

The biggest loss on the boys side will be that of distance runner Jeremiah Wilt from a season ago. The Shanksville graduate is now competing for Hagerstown Community College.

“We just try to do the best with what we’ve got,” Mapes said. “We try to make the kids better, and if we win a meet that’s a plus.”

Also expected to contribute for the Shade boys include Shade senior Brandon DeVroy and Shanksville senior Jacob Frazier in the throwing events. Shade senior Eric Maddy will provide leadership to the young Panthers.

“You have to get them to succeed individually and hope it all comes together for a team effort,” Mapes said. “It’s a team sport, but it’s an individual sport at the same time.”

The girls are looking strong in several events, especially the 400- and 1,600-meter relays, which feature several talented seniors and underclassmen.

Shanksville senior Aimee Thompson, juniors Chloe Mapes and Breanna Will, sophomores Jen Wilt and Ashley Manges, and Shade senior Diana Blanar, could all contribute to the success of the relays.

Alicia Perl, a junior at Shanksville, should give the Panthers a strong presence in the throwing events while Chloe Mapes has already been leaping well this season after adding the high jump to her event list last year.

“You just show up, do well and show improvement,” said Coach Mapes, who has helped Shade track athletes get to states on a consistent basis in his seven years. “If you can win something in the conference, that’s a goal.”

BY MATT JORDAN
matt@qz93sports.com

Note: This is the first in a series of stories profiling the boys and girls track teams in Somerset County and the WestPAC.

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