Before heading off to Brigham Young University in the summer to prepare for college football, Mike Davis will have a few items of business to tackle during the next several months.
As the linchpin to the Glendale High boys’ track and field team once again, Davis will look to successfully defend his Pacific League championships in the 100- and 200-meter races with the ultimate goal of returning to the CIF-State Meet in June.
The standout sprinter posted All-Area best times in the 100- (10.67) and 200-meter (21.40) events last season. Davis became the first Nitro to participate in the state meet since Richard Erbes in 1986 and joined an impressive list of Nitros to qualify for state, including former Olympian Dwight Stones and state high jump record-holder Lee Balkin.
New Glendale Coach Andrew Dakopolos, who succeeds Bob Bailey, said he’s eager to find out how Davis will fare in the spotlight again.
“We have very high hopes for him, and the biggest thing will be for him to stay healthy,” Dakopolos said. “He’s taken some time off with his training, but he has the natural athletic talent and he’s blazing fast.
“If Michael wants to go back to state, then he will go back to state. It’s exciting to be able to coach him and we will do everything in our power to get him back to state.”
Davis, who earned All-Area first-team accolades in football last season, should find himself surrounded by some budding talent at Glendale. He will be joined by sprinters Carlos Navarro and Daniel Jung, both of whom will work with Davis in the relays.
Brian Shieh will lead Glendale’s distance runners and also participate in the long jump.
“I like our versatility and depth,” Dakopolos said. “We should have formidable relay teams to go with our long-distance crew.”
Flintridge Prep captured its first Prep League championship last season. While the Rebels sneaked up on several teams to win the league title for the first time since 2003, things figure to be a bit tougher this season.
“Right now, we are hoping to win it again,” Flintridge Prep Coach Nick Ponticello said. “At the same time, we have to make sure we are not overconfident.
“Last year, it was more about the element of surprise. We are looking forward to a good season. We want to try to be even more cohesive.”
Flintridge Prep will return a core of talented athletes in distance runners Elias Ellison and Aaron Sugimoto and Alan Yoho. Also looking to earn Flintridge Prep valuable points in meets will be sprinters Henry Griffith and Stefan Smith and West Nowotny in the discus.
It’s unclear if sophomore pole vaultors Gareth Weiss and Barrett Weiss will return to the Rebels. The twin brothers both broke personal bests last season in tying for a CIF Southern Section Division IV championship with vaults of 12 feet 9 inches before a tiebreaker determined Gareth to be the champion.
At Crescenta Valley, the Falcons are coming off a second-place finish in the Pacific League last season. While Crescenta Valley lost a couple of top athletes to graduation, it will again likely be strong in the distance events with the trio of Gabe Collison, Nick Beatty and Matt Manalo. Alex Damla will compete in the 400 and David Shahmanyan will take part in the hurdles.
Crescenta Valley Coach Mark Evans said the Falcons are in the process of shoring up their depth in the field events. Leading the way will be Logan Rogers in the pole vault.
“Overall, we have a strong team that’s still looking to develop some more,” Evans said. “We have depth in the distance events and the relays are in an experimental mode right now.
“We will be a little young, but that’s OK. We will try to get better as the season goes along.”
St. Francis will begin a new era under the direction of first-year coach Marvin Williams, who spent the last three seasons as an assistant at Campbell Hall. Williams replaces Pat Donovan, who will stay on as an assistant.
The Golden Knights will try to establish depth in a variety of events while competing in the tough Mission League.
“We want to be able to make some big steps in the different events,” Williams said. “We feel like we have a lot of talent in place.
“It’s about building consistency during workouts so they get stronger physically during the season.”
St. Francis will turn to sprinters Ross Niederhaus, Anthony Carter and Christofer Rivera, to go along with hurdler Caleb Simmeth. They will be joined by Daniel Medina in the 400, Bowen Waugh at distance and Eric Knowles in the long jump.
Hoover will return standout distance runner Jeremy Zadoorian, who finished fourth in the 800 at the Pacific League final last season. Zadoorian was the lone Tornado to advance to the CIF prelims.
“[Zadoorian] is very strong and we expect to see him make it to CIF,” Hoover Coach Jack Sallakian said.
The Tornadoes will be strongest in the distance events. Kenneth Trejo and Vladimir Climasevschii will take part in the 3,200. Sangwoog Ha will participate in the 400.
“We will have about the same numbers as last year, though maybe we will have a few more,” Sallakian said. “We were weak in the field events last year, primarily because we couldn’t fill out enough athletes to participate in them.
“Now, we have some people in from the other sports and we hope to fill them in there.”
Hoover will not host any meets this season because the track and football field are undergoing major renovations.