Group of coaches look to build Lapel track program


LAPEL — The Lapel boys and girls track and field teams enter the 2023 season with a group of coaches set to help guide and lead them.

The two teams will be under the leadership of a group of coaches, Dan Combs, the team’s head coach the previous two seasons, Tim Miller, the school’s football coach, Chad Soden, the school’s girls soccer coach, Bobby Steele, a former Lapel thrower, Angie Jones, and Jim Clark, or “Poppy” as the coaches and athletes refer to him.

The group will look to build off of a season that saw two members of the boys team advance to the Lawrence Central Regional, but the overall goal heading into the year was to just get the numbers up on both teams.

“Just get kids out doing it. We made a point to increase the numbers on both the boys and girls teams,” Coach Miller said. “The goal is to make it an enjoyable experience that the kids want to continue to do. I’d say that’s goal No. 1 for us.”

The boys return both of their regional qualifiers in distance runner Cam Smith and thrower Nathan Belvo.

Smith, a state finalist this past fall in cross country, will look to carry that momentum over onto the track. Last season he competed all across the board for the Bulldogs, placing fourth at the Mt. Vernon Sectional in the 800-meter, and fifth in the 1,600-meter. He was also a member of the fourth place 4×400 relay team. At the regional, he placed 12th in the 800.

Belvo had the best Lapel finish in either the track or field events. After a third place discus finish at sectional, he went on to place 11th in the regional. At the sectional he placed one spot out of qualifying for shot put as well with a fourth place finish.

“I think he’s [Belvo] hoping to break some school records in those events, but he did have surgery in the off season, but he’s doing well in his recovery so we’re hopeful that he continues to improve and can break some of those records.”

Elijah Stires and Braxton Burress are two of the other key returners for the boys team.

Stires placed fourth in the 400-meter at sectional and eighth in the 200-meter, and Burress placed ninth in the 1,600. Both were members of the 4×400 relay team along with Smith.

The girls look to be strong in the distance events, with returnee Hannah Combs and newcomer Sophie Goodwin.

Combs placed eight at last year’s Pendleton Heights Sectional in the 1,600-meter, while the freshman Goodwin comes into her first track season off of a state final cross country season.

Goodwin was the first girl in Lapel school history to reach the state final, and will look to carry that success over to the track in some of the longer events.

Sprinter Regan Stookey looks to be toward the top of events such as the 100- and 200-meter races.

Last season, Stookey placed fourth at sectional in the 200 and sixth in the 400.

Ashlyn Doster will lead the Bulldogs in the hurdles and will look to build off of an eighth place finish last season.

“Those kids that are returning, they’re just continuing to improve, and some of the kids that we pulled out of the hallway or from other sports we’re hoping that we can find either a field event or running event that they can help score us some points in,” coach Miller said.

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