Self improvement: With team numbers on the low side, Rockets focus on individual victories | Sports

Both Titusville track & field head coaches — Brent Henderson for the boys and Stacey McDonald for the girls — said roughly the same thing about their squads prior to the start of the season.

In a nutshell: Both teams had good athletes on the roster. But the cancelation of the 2020 season interrupted the momentum that the program had built over the pervious few years. And so the Rockets were entering the 2021 with not a lot of depth or versatility, which wasn’t going to do them any favors when it came to team scores.

Three meets into the 2021 campaign, both Henderson and McDonald were spot on with their preseason outlooks.

Team scores have not gone the Titusville’s way thus far. But there are a number of athletes that are giving the Rockets something to stay excited about for the remainder of the 2021 season.

Tuesday’s meet against Region 4 opponent Seneca, held under cold and gray conditions at the Ed Myer Complex, was the latest example.

The Bobcats swept the day, winning the boys meet 82-68, as well as the girls 102-47.

Yet, some individual Rockets impressed.

“We’re just looking for personal improvement,” said Henderson. “That’s the nice thing about track. You’ve got times, or distances, things that you can go for.

“I’m overall happy with what happened (on Tuesday). We didn’t have district qualifiers. But we had a bunch of personal bests today. And in these conditions, that’s good.”

Titusville’s lack of depth was further impacted by various maladies.

“We’ve got kids out with injuries, kids sick,” Henderson said. “We’ve got kids out with COVID. But so does Seneca. They had six out with COVID protocols. So that’s where we’re at. We’re just trying to fill those holes that we have. If we had some bodies that could get us some points in events that would make a big difference.”

The COVID list didn’t just effect the athletes. It also scratched coach McDonald, who missed yesterday’s meet after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Assistant coach B.J. Brooks helmed the girls team in McDonald’s absence.

“(McDonald) had the vaccine also,” said Brooks. “So it’s kind of an anomaly.”

As for the individual successes for the Rockets, nobody collected as many as Kaleb Sopher.

He opened the day by winning the long jump with a personal-best distance of 18-feet, 3/4-inches. Then he added a win in the 100-meter dash, snapping the figurative tape in 11.6 seconds. And later, he won the 200, clocking in at 24.1 seconds.

“He’s a speed guy,” Henderson said about Sopher. “And he’s really done well. I know one of his goals is to be the top guy in the region for the sprints. And so far he’s done a very nice job. He hasn’t been beaten yet.”

The Rocket boys also got a big day out of their throwers, who scored 22 out of a possible 27 points at the meet.

Cole Endres won the discus with a personal-best distance of 119-4. Lodge Nosko added a personal best in the shot put, winning it with a heave of 44-7 1/2.

Other winners for the boys included Frank Barger, who blew away at least one Seneca coach with his time of 16.8 seconds in the 110 high hurdles; Hunter Titus, who was fastest in the 400-meter run with a time of 56 seconds; and Mitchell Baldwin, who was the last guy competing in the pole vault, winning it with a clearance of 11 feet.

As for the Titusville girls, their day started out quite strong as they won the meet-opening 3,200 relay with a time of 10:54. Team members were Julia Johnson, Emma Wright, Sophia Sampson and SheaLynn Titus. Their effort qualified the group for the District 10 championship meet.  

“That was impressive,” said Brooks. “That was the highlight, I think, of the day.”

Later, Sampson added an individual victory in the pole vault, clearing the bar at 6 feet.

Also for the Rockets, Alexa Drake contributed a victory in the 400-meter run, finishing in 1:09.9. Athena Schmidt claimed the top distance in the javelin with a toss of 79-9.

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