Last week we previewed the Liberty Bell High School spring sports programs in baseball, softball and tennis. This week we take a look at what to expect in track and field and boys’ soccer.
Track and field
Coach Erik Brooks returns this year with his typical upbeat, optimistic and enthusiastic attitude. Faced with the normal early March snowpack on the track surface, the Mountain Lions have been running warm-up laps around the high school building interior, and moving outside to train on the parking lot pavement, shoulders of Twin Lakes Road and through the adjacent Sun Mountain Ranch neighborhood.
The strength of this team will be in the distance races with the 800-meter, 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs, as a core of runners from the highly successful girls’ and boys’ cross country programs have shown up for practices early on. State cross country runners-up Leki Albright and Will Halpin, both sophomores, lead the way, with fellow sophomore Aksel Thomson and freshman Dexter Delaney also in the conversation.
Delaney had to sit out the last half of the fall running season with nagging soreness in a lower leg, but felt good throughout a full winter of Nordic skiing and looks to pick up where he left off after a strong eighth-grade season last spring.
Another pair of sophomores, Sandra Hernandez and Kyler Mitchell, will also be point contributors. Hernandez showed some good speed in the 400-meter run and the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Mitchell looks to feature the high jump and maybe long jump. One might also see him on the track in a dash or two, and on a relay team.
New to the program this year is freshman Morgan Spellman, coming over from baseball. He has displayed some athleticism and quickness in both football as a back-up quarterback and in basketball, and should be able to find his niche as the spring season develops.
It was wet, sloppy and mucky, but the Mountain Lion soccer lads were on the practice pitch last week with second-year coach David Marz.
Marz, also dealing with limited numbers during last year’s adjusted season, has a different problem with numbers: He has to figure out who will be the subs on the JV bench this year. With 26 students on his roster, the coach said that he has never had that problem before, but he doesn’t view it as a stumbling block to a successful year.
He also has more staff this year, with assistant varsity coach Kohl Simmons, assistant JV coach Adam Kaufman and returning volunteer assistant Ross Beatty.
In spite of the cold and rain, “We’ve had some great pre-season workouts and now it’s nice to move outside of the Cub Gym and onto the practice field,” the coach said.
Along with the increase in numbers, Marz reports a solid returning stable of players at almost every position.
“We effectively have 19 varsity players who can start a match on any given day,” he said.
That depth will lend itself to fresher legs. Expect Marz to platoon more, and that could also mean more of an attacking style of play, not always a possibility in the past.
Having a large JV group will also serve the program well, providing valuable game experience as the program matures into the future.
“There were a lot of strong legs and accuracy in the gym,” said Marz. “It is exciting to see how that translates to the pitch.”