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By Staff | Apr 3, 2019

Now that our spring sports are in full swing, and I wasn’t around to do many of the teams’ previews, I won’t be doing them now since the sports have already started.

But I really want to write about the Magnolia Boys Track team, as well as the Magnolia Softball team.

The MHS Boys Track team won the Class A state championships last year, while the MHS Girls Softball team won their sectional game, but lost the regional.

MHS head coach Travis Emch, who took over for the legendary Craig Schneid – who has won more state titles than any track coach in the valley, won the Class A title in his first go-around. However, he lost a lot of points from graduation in Brooks Parsons, Jack Booth, and Kyler Cecil.

Emch learned from the best. He will look to possibly do it once more with four seniors who qualified for the state tournament, which will help him – along with assistant coach Trey Meeks.

Senior Ethan Herrick is back and brings three years of experience. He was a member of the 4×200, 4×400 and 4×800 teams, with the 4×400 team setting a new state record. Also add Spencer Shepherd, who placed third in the 800-meter as well as served on the 4×800 team. Patrick Mirandy is also back and ready to step it up after returning from placing third in the 400-meter. He was a member of the 4×100 and 4×200 teams, as well as helped the shuttle team qualify for state. The final senior strong-man is Jay Eller, who placed fifth in the shot.

The remaining seniors include Jacob Myers, Austin Pyles, Tyler White, Josh Arrick, Gage Adams, Sebastian Stickler, Chase Coulter, Kyle Thomas, Noah Wade, Jacob Miller and Teran Malone; eight of these 11 are out for the first time.

Watching these seniors in other sports along with the four seniors with state track experience, the Big Blue could challenge for the state once more.

Also add in junior James Stillwagoner, who competed in the 4×100 and 4×200 and shuttle team, as well as Jakob and Jared Barrows – who both did well at state. Jakob won the shot, while Jared placed third in the discus and fourth in the shot. These three are also back.

You must also add sophomore speedster Jason Beisel. He was on all four of the relay teams, as well as Logan Beegle – who was on the 4×800 team. Besides these guys, the rest of the team includes Jayson West, Gavin Herrick, Nathan Schupach, Kayden Jones, Allen Collins, Nathaniel Thorpe, Damon Shimp, Tony Fiber, Samuel Mensore, Deamien Gatian, Joseph Dawson and Marcus Barnes.

Not including the guys that made the trip to Charleston, I can see a lot more who can and will compete with the best, if they only train and listen to coaches Emch and Meeks.

The Lady Blue Eagles are the team to beat coming into the season.

They were also the team to beat last season, but lost their edge by good pitching and timely hitting. However, MHS Head Coach Angela Johnson and Assistant Coach Danny Anderson have four-year starter Ashley Tharp. She is one of the top three pitchers in the state, so anything is possible; it’s even better when she can hit just as well as anyone in the state,too.

Magnolia will be in any game they play with Ashley in the circle as she doesn’t walk many batters as well as hits. She lost her battery-mate to graduation but has a good looking freshman in Baylie Fluharty, who has a cannon that will keep teams from making their way into scoring position. And with that being said, and knowing Ashley will be throwing strikes, the only downfall will be the fielding. In the past several years the defense hurt the Eagles in winning the close games. However, with three-year starters Paige Brill at short and classmate Kayna Anderson back, the Eagles are solid down the middle – along with senior Lindsay Whiteman in center field. Down the left side of the field, junior Ashley Kelly will play the hot corner at third, while at first base will be senior Ashlynn Piekarski. Piekarski is solid at the plate and will back up Ashley in the circle as well. She will also be a DP when needed too.

But right field and left field are a work in progress. They look to have freshman Kadyn Fluharty and senior Rian Dawson, as well as junior Haleigh King.

The rest of the team includes Kailyn Pallico, Karisa Postlethwait, Shyanna White, Lily Spratt, Autumn Lockhart, Kelsey Litman, Natalie Fletcher, Sydney Scott, Kristen Francis, Kyra Dalton and Isabel Sprowl.

As long as Tharp is in the circle, the Blue Eagles can beat anybody, but if teams can make contact, anything is possible.

I’m predicting the Blue Eagles to soar over most of the teams they face, and expect them to play once more for a shot at state. If the Eagle batters can get the timing down on the games down the stretch, I believe with all my heart they will be on top and again challenge St Marys, Ritchie and Wheeling Central for a state berth.

Ashley will mow down her opponents with her fastball that has more movement than the members of Dancing With The Stars, and bring home a state championship.

In ending my column, I wanted to express my sincere thoughts and best wishes to all my teams I cover. I feel just as much for you guys as I do with both the MHS Boys Track and the MHS Softball team.

One more thing, if a game or match was canceled due to the weather and will be made up, could someone contact me and let know when, where and what time it will be made up.

I also would like it if schools can send me next season fall sports schedules ASAP, because as you well know, I will be retiring after this spring season, and I will be trying to let the Wetzel Chronicle know what games I can cover (as I will only be working 3-4 days a week), and I want to work with our paper to get as many games covered as I can in those days I work.