By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
The boys track and field preview for the Rootstown Rovers’ 2023 season:
Head Coach: Larry Bailey, 39th year, 217-150-6 career record.
Coaching Staff: Joe Mackle.
2022 Record: 7-2-1 overall; 5-0 Portage Trail Conference.
Returning Lettermen (16): Trent Gierke, sr.; Caleb Cutright, sr.; Dylan Furry, sr.; Ben Kreitzburg, sr.; Simon Halaszi, sr.; Linden White, sr.; Aiden Rodstrom, jr.; Brady Fillmore, jr.; Gavin Cone, jr.; Dominic Siglow, jr.; Gianni Damicone, soph.; Owen Burrell, soph.; Mason Fleck, soph.; Dylan Wilfong, soph.; Eric Baughman, soph.; Mason Marik, soph.
Lettermen Lost (4): Xavier Birkett, Donovan Birkett, Ethan Sisley, Nick Roberts.
Team Captains: Aiden Rodstrom, Ben Kreitzburg, Caleb Cutright.
Underclassmen to Watch: Carson Cutright (hurdles), Jacob Sturm (distance), Brady Brown (distance), Wyatt Schenal (distance), Mason Lisi (sprints), Damien Reuting (sprints).
“We are the defending league champions,” veteran head coach Larry Bailey said. “We return 16 lettermen and add 10 freshmen from last year’s middle-school championship team.”
There are plenty of talented runners for the Rovers in the sprint events, especially in the hurdles.
Aiden Rodstrom, Dylan Furry, Simon Halaszi spotlight the hurdlers, which will get even stronger with the addition of Carson Cutright, who enters as a freshman that won the 100-meter championship as an eighth-grader last year.
Mason Fleck, Gavin Cone, Mason Lisi, Mason Marik, along with newcomer Cameron Mahone, will fill out the 100 and 200 meters, as well as the 4×100 and 4×200 relays.
Ben Kreitzburg runs well in the 200 meters and will help form the 4×200.
The Rovers’ 4×400 relay will feature Brady Fillmore, Furry, Rodstrom and Damien Reuting.
Bailey has seen plenty of groups to offer a fair analysis and considers his collection of distance runners “deep and talented.”
Senior Caleb Cutright is the Portage Trail Conference’s reigning champion in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters.
A group of underclassmen also provide depth, with Eric Baughman, Brady Brown, Wyatt Schenal, Dylan Wilfong and Jacob Sturm.
Sturm won the 1,600 championship in middle school in 2022, and was named All-PTC in cross country, alongside Schenal and Brown.
Fillmore, Kreitzburg, Cutright and Owen Burrell will give Rootstown a solid 4×800 relay team and also solid open 800 runners.
The Rovers have two solid shot-putters in Linden White and Dominic Siglow, with the duo of Gianni Damicone and Trent Gierke doing the same in the discus event.
The long jump and high jump events will be filled out by Damicone, Fillmore, Furry, Halaszi, as well as Mahone.
“We are back in Division III, return 16 lettermen, add 10 freshmen from the middle-school championship team and add Cameron Mahone, who is very athletic,” Bailey said.
“We have a young sprint group that will need to develop over the course of the season,” Bailey said.
March 28: vs. Ravenna and Streetsboro
April 1: at Cardinal Invitational
April 4: at Crestwood
April 8: at East Canton Invitational
April 18: at Lake Center Christian
April 25: vs. Southeast
May 2: vs. Mogadore
May 6: at East Canton
May 10: PTC Championships at Mogadore
May 12: PTC Championships at Mogadore