Track Teams to Watch, #4: Lyons Girls

Rachel Hinker can help Lyons in a lot of ways. They'll have to decide where her abilities work best this spring. Photo by Alan Versaw.


Last year, Lyons finished second among the 3A girls at the state track meet. This year, they're coming down to 2A.


Last year, Akron blistered the field in the 2A girls state track meet. This year, Akron has their hands full.


It's not just Rachel Hinker that can do a lot of damage. Simply stated, Lyons may be the most balanced outfit ever to hit 2A girls track and field.


Setting Hinker aside for the moment, consider the rest of the resources for Lyons:


Distance: Lyons has always had a distance presence. This year, it looks like they'll rely heavily on the sister act of Melissa and Miriam Roberts. Melissa scored points in both the 1600 and 3200 at the 3A state meet last spring. She enjoyed a solid cross country season until illness hit the night before the state meet. She figures to be one of the top contenders at 1600 and 3200 in 2A this spring. But, this year, she's joined by her sister Miriam who also enjoyed an outstanding cross country season. Father and coach, Mark Roberts, gets to figure out how to parcel events between these two. It's been a few years since Lyons had a formidable 4x800 team, but that's not out of the realm of possibility this spring.


Hurdles: Jesse Montross has this one handled. How good is she? If she was back in 3A this spring, she'd be the top returning finisher in the 300 hurdles. Madison Myers is likely to add some hurdles depth for the Lions. Both of these individuals should figure on relays as well.


Pole Vault: As the ranks of schools (and coaches) participating in the pole vault grows thinner and thinner, the advantages of having a pole vault program grow bigger and bigger. Now consider that, with the rankings system, a school can bring more than three athletes to state in an event. How many vaulters will Lyons bring? That's not clear yet, but Lyons has at least three coming back who recorded marks last spring, and Corbette Tschanz's best mark from last spring ties her for top of the pile in 2A.


High Jump: Nola Basey and Olivia Raspotnik both figure to have the potential to be serious placers in 2A this spring. Nola Basey could be a legitimate contender to win it all. Raspotnik has some distance ability and figures to contribute in those events as well, perhaps as part of a 4x800 team. Basey figures to contribute as a triple jump as well as the high jump.


Throws: In what appears at this moment to be a bit of a down year for 2A girls throws, Michelle Hickey appears to be coming into the season as the second-ranked shot putter in the classification. No doubt, Lyons will try to exploit this situation.


Relays: Lyons always throws a competitive relay or two on the track, but it's generally not clear until late in the season which relay or relays they'll get after. In 2009, they went after the 4x400. In 2010, they set the 3A state meet record in the 4x100. It's anyone's guess which relays they'll be taking aim at this spring.


And, that would bring us to the topic of Rachel Hinker. The bottom line is that she holds the top preseason ranking in 2A in the 100, 200, and long jump. She runs a mean 400 when needed. She contribute on any of the three sprint relays. There are probably other events she could do as well. If she's healthy this spring, she gives Lyons all sorts of options.


So, let's talk for a moment about how Lyons performs so well in track and field. Somebody is bound to make the observation that Lyons is a very large 2A school. That much is true, and Lyons will likely be headed back to 3A in the 2012-13 school year if the CLOC committee proposals for classification breakpoints pass the Board of Control. But, big doesn't always win. Akron is far from the largest 2A school, yet the Rams absolutely dominated last year's 2A girls state meet. "Big" is only one piece of the puzzle and, paradoxically, a relatively small one at that. Keep in mind that Lyons was one of the very smallest schools in last year's 3A state track meet and finished second in girls and third in boys.


One huge aspect of the success of the Lyons program is that they compete against the larger classifications at every opportunity. You won't find Lyons camping out at 2A and 3A meets. You'll find them mixing it up with 4A and 5A schools at the larger invitationals. When that happens, athletes start taking aim at marks that will place them in those meets rather than marks that will advance them to state. Big difference.


Lastly, I know few people who work as hard at or are as genuinely interested in track and field as Coach Mark Roberts. I wish I'd had him as my coach in high school--my own high school track experience would likely have been a good deal more memorable if he had been.


2010 3A State Meet Results