By Chris Chaney
The Williamsburg Wildcats’ bid to earn a third straight Southern Buckeye Conference title has begun unlike any other head coach Chris Rolph can remember: running through the halls.
“I’ve coached close to 30 years and never seen anything like this year,” Rolph said of the weather’s impact on preseason training. “Fortunately, our school has been very cooperative. We’ve used the old high school, the new high school and the elementary school. We’re using gyms, we use the hallways and we’ve been inside the vast majority of the time.”
The lingering winter weather has made training outside next to impossible for not only Williamsburg, but also many other high school teams who thought they had signed up to play “spring” sports.
Rolph and his Wildcats are making the best out of a bad situation, training in any way they can and trying to keep things fresh as they wait for the snow to melt outside.
“Our high school hallway accommodates 100 meters,” Rolph laughed. “Our kids can run down the hallway and then the distance runners can run a lap from the first floor to the second floor and that takes close to two or three minutes, so we’ve just been running indoors.”
Not all of the Wildcats are staying warm inside the schools, however. Most of the field athletes are toughing the conditions and working on their crafts outside in the elements.
“To be honest, we’ve been focusing on conditioning and done very little with the field athletes with the exception of throwers,” Rolph explained. “Our throwers have gone outside and thrown the majority of the time and just toughed it out.”
As for how the team is shaping up, the defending SBC champs have a good core of athletes returning that include a number of All Conference selections.
“We’re certainly going to be competitive again and looking forward to some good things,” Rolph said. “Lee Brandon, a hurdler and pole vaulter, is a senior. He’ll run both hurdle events and a sprint relay. Another one would be Corey Stith, another hurdler and a sprinter. And somebody who did not run last year because he was All League in cross country who I expect big things from would be Roger Thornberry, a distance runner.
“Then we have the defending 400-meter league champion Ryan Boggs returning.”
The Wildcats will have to replace four key contributors to last year’s team as the team’s top three sprinters, Jacob Edminsten, Clayton Scheidler and Theo Simpson, graduated and junior First Team All-Conference thrower Michael Posey transferred to Batavia.
Rolph has a transfer of his own coming in from Western Brown that could help the sprinting corps, while other underclassmen will be leaned upon to fill in the other field events.
Still, with the fluctation in roster and weather, Roplh expects for his team to compete once again for a league title. The Wildcats’ main challenge will come in the form of the Georgetown G-Men who will return every one of their All-Conference selections from 2011-12.
“In our league, Georgetown is loaded,” Rolph said. “Blanchester is always pretty good. I expect them to be solid, they always are.”
Despite Rolph’s praise of Williamsburg’s SBC rivals, the road to the league championship will go through Williamsburg. The Wildcats are primed to kick off their season, but first, they need the snow to melt so they can stop training indoors.