By Chris Chaney
Off to a fast start in the 2014 season, the Clermont Northeastern track and field teams have no plans to slow down as they hope to challenge for a Southern Buckeye Conference title.
“We’re looking to improve upon our fourth-place league finishes from last year,” said Pat Rexroat, who along with his son Brooks, handle the coaching duties for the Rockets. “We have a few more numbers. The boys have three returning letterman and the girls have three as well, then we have some new folks this year.”
Despite the lack of experience returning for both of the Rockets’ teams, their early season returns show that sometimes talent is more important than experience. Through three meets this season, the boys’ team hasn’t finished outside the top-6 while the girls’ squad has been in the top-4 in two of their three events.
The most recent event for CNE was this past weekend’s Cincinnati Country Day School Invitational held at CCD. Both teams finished in third place.
While the track and field program is relatively young, Pat Rexroat said there are a handful of upperclassmen who are leading the way and then some younger competitors who have been pleasant surprises in terms of how quickly they’ve been able to acclimate themselves and gain some points for the team.
“We have (junior) Steven Allen who is running 11.0 in the 100 and is ranked in the city,” the coach said. “He’s also long jumping 19-10, which is top-10 in the city at this point.
“Tramaine Smith, (a senior), is running the 300 hurdles for us this year and is doing a really nice job. He’s placed a few times so far.
“I have a freshman, Chris Coleman, who is high jumping, long jumping and pole vaulting — one of our field specialists. And Logan Fishback, (a sophomore) is throwing 40-feet-8 inches in the shot put and he’s 141-feet-7 inches in the discus, which is also highly ranked in the city.
“Our 4×100 and 4×200 relays are running very well, they’ve won at a couple meets already this year.”
Steven Allen, CNE’s 110-meter hurdler, got off to a promising start as well, but has been sidelined with a non-track-related wrist injury.
The girls’ team is similarly led by a few upperclassmen, but supported by a talented crop of younger athletes. Seniors Katie Phair and Krista King set the tone, while strictly underclassmen carry the rest of the load.
Led by field athletes and sophomores Jenna Mummert (high jump) and Elliott Durbin (discus and shot put), the Lady Rockets have been getting points in both aspects.
King and Phair take care of a lot of the girls’ sprinting, while sophomore Quinn Reed and freshman Hannah Hoerth, along with King, do some mid-distance. Jessica Shafer is the resident hurdler for the Lady Rockets.
“We have three or four of our athletes excelling at this point and it’s probably even more than that,” Rexroat said of the fast start. “We’re running with a lot of confidence, especially in our (boys’) relays.”
The good start is only as good as the finish in Rexroat’s eyes. A bunched SBC-National Division has the coach optimistic about his team’s prospects, but aware of the strong teams that make up the league.
“It’s going to be really tight this year,” he said. “We have a very balanced league. Blanchester, Georgetown, CNE — and I have not seen Batavia yet, but their stats look very solid. We want to finish in the top half of the league and continue to improve upon that each year.”
The Rockets were back in action against a slew of SBC teams on Tuesday and Wednesday at the New Richmond Invitational, but results were not available at the time of this publishing.
Next up for CNE is the Vern Hawkins Invitational at Georgetown on Friday, April 25.