By Mackensey O'hara contributing writer
---- — After starting the Cherry Valley-Springfield track and field program 20 years ago, coach Jordan Jaquay is sticking to his motto and having a lot of success with them.
“We just want the kids enjoying themselves and doing the best they can,” said Jaquay. “That’s how we run the program and it’s worked for years.”
The “we” Jaquay is referring to would be his wife Melissa, who co-coaches the team with him. Together, they have built a boy’s track and field team that has won seven of the last nine Section Four Class D titles and eight of the last nine Tri-Valley league titles.
It looks promising that the Patriots will continue this success with a strong group of returners and newcomers.
Leading the way for CV-S is senior Dustin Collins, who Jaquay said is their number one returner and will be a natural leader for the team.
“He is the defending section champion in the 400 hurdles, he’s won three straight Tri-Valley triple jump titles, and he is the school record holder in the triple jump,” said Jaquay.
Juniors Ben Drugatz, Nick Mills, and Noah Russo will be key in the sprints and relays and Elijah Lyon will be a top competitor in the middle distance races.
Jaquay said these five athletes give CV-S a strong, solid base.
“They are going to make up the core of the team,” he said.
CV-S will have quite the supporting cast to assist these five.
Jaquay said he sees junior John Magyar and senior Sam O’Brian-Wilson as the top distance runners for the season.
Juniors Ryan Jaquay and Kurt Presely will both be middle distance runners for the Patriots.
Seniors Andrew Winters and Luke Palumbo and junior Townie Zaengle, will lead the throwing events.
Top newcomers for CV-S are junior Cameron Hull, who will be competing in the jumps and freshmen Tanner Yager, who will be a thrower for the Patriots.
Jaquay said he is also very pleased about the return of senior Hunter Cox, who spent last year in Brazil as an exchange student.
“He was one of the best pole vaulters in the area as a sophomore,” said Jaquay.
Cox’s timing couldn’t be better. Rory Davis, who claimed the Class D title in the pole vault last season for the Patriots, has graduated.
Besides Davis, the Patriots did lose six other top athletes to graduation. Isiah Montgomery, Kyle Jaquay, Kevin Doubleday, Ethan Drugatz, Tyler McDermott and Connor Goguen all were key players in winning the section title last year.
Despite these loses, Jaquay said he is confident that his team will not suffer.
“We have a lot of depth,” said Jaquay. “That has been our key for the last decade.”
CV-S boy’s won the section title with nearly 50 points over Elmira Notre Dame last season and the Tri-Valley title with 126 points, 28 greater than runner up Gilbertsville-Mount Upton/Morris.
“We are going to be pretty solid in most events (for the guys) this year,” said Jaquay.
Looking at the girl’s team, things will be a little different, but Jaquay is still positive about the season.
“We are very young,” said Jaquay of his girls’ squad. “We have a lot of ninth and tenth graders this year that have come up from a very successful modified program.”
Alexis Cronkite is a freshmen who ran on varsity as an eighth-grader and who Jaquay noted as one of his top sprinters this season.
Sophomore Hannah Lamouret and newcomer Morgan Westermen are both jumpers and will compete in the hurdles for the Patriots.
Senior Lauren Loucks and junior Emily McDermott will lead CV-S in middle distance events; Loucks, a fifth year track athlete, will also jump this season.
Other notable newcomers for CV-S are Nicole Deselets, who is a freshmen jumper and sprinter, and senior Jordan Loucks, who will run sprints and relays. Loucks was the starting shortstop for the CV-S softball team last season before switching back to track for her senior year.
“We are going to have a few holes in events (with the girls) this year, but we are stronger than we’ve been in the past few years,” said Jaquay. “I think we will be competitive at the league meet.”
Overall, Jaquay maintains a positive outlook on the season and on the track and field program as a whole.
“We just want to be competitive and work hard,” said Jaquay. “We don’t set goals that we need to win (a particular title or championship), that will come naturally if we are enjoying it all.”
Cherry Valley-Springfield will be hosting the Tri-Valley Championship this year on May 15. The season starts for the Patriots on April 2 as they host Schenevus/Worcester and Stamford.