Tigers want to continue building depth

Circleville Tigers Boys Track and Field
Jason Wells
2022 finish: Seventh in Mid-State League Buckeye Division

Key returnees: Senior Zach Buitendorp, pole vault; Sophomore Daniel Cutliff, sprints; Sophomore Jake Yancey, sprints; Sophomore Jude Blair, sprints; Senior Joe Streitenberger, sprints; Sophomore Cyrus Lee, sprints: Junior Tim Wilson, long sprints; Junior Sterlin Mullins, distance; Junior Preston Hulse, distance; Junior Brandon Patrick, distance and Sophomore Jack Sorrell, pole vault

Buitendorp qualified for a second consecutive season last year in the pole vault, while the 4×1 and 4×2 relay teams of Cutliff, Yancey, Blair and Streitenberger qualified for the regional meet.

Key newcomers: “Hard to say at this point, but we have a lot of freshmen and other new guys out for the team,” Wells said. “I hesitate to mention individuals because inevitably we’ll have some guys not even on our radar right now who will surprise us and make big contributions.”

Expectations: Coach Jason Wells noted that the goal every season for the Tigers is to win the league and district championships, along with qualifying as many athletes as possible for the regional and state meets. He also acknowledged that the Tigers are in the midst of retooling the depth of its high school roster.

“We’re in the middle of a rebuilding phase right now, but I like how we’re progressing,” he said. “Last year, we had low numbers and were very young. We tried, though, to create a foundation we can build on this year, and I think we’ll see a lot of growth this season. We’re still young, but our numbers are a little better, and that youth is one of the things we’re excited about. We have some guys who know how to do things the right way, and the hope is we can continue to grow that with the young guys.”

Wells discussed the growth and improvement that he sees over last season.

“We have some kids that put in a lot of time this winter as well as some winter sport athletes who are now back with us that we expect to see a lot of growth in,” he said. “One of the best parts of coaching is seeing that year over year growth in kids, seeing them complete more and more impressive workouts over last year or master things technically that they couldn’t do a year ago, and ultimately hit marks they couldn’t even imagine last year or the year before.”

Circleville’s Zach Buitendorp is a two-time returning state qualifier in the pole vault.

Obviously, with a returning state qualifier in Buitendorp, Wells considers pole vault to be the Tigers’ strongest event entering the season.

“Our strongest event should be the pole vault, Zach’s been to state twice now and just qualified for indoor state this winter, so he gets us pretty consistent points there,” he said. “His big goal is to work toward a school record, and he’s worked really hard at it for four years, so we’re hoping he can get there.”

Wells believes fans will see improvement in the sprints that will hopefully help the Tigers climb up the league ladder after finishing seventh last season.

“We should be much stronger in the sprints this year. Most of our sprinters last year were very young, but they got a lot of experience and even qualified our relays to the regional meet,” he said. “That core group was very committed this winter, and hopefully they can take another big step this year. We also have added a lot of depth with our new guys. That’s something we didn’t have much of last year, and with the sprints being about half the events, that should go a long way toward helping us be more competitive this year. It gives us a lot more options as far as moving people around to different events to maximize points.”

Wells acknowledged the Tigers are still thin in some areas but have some reasons for optimism entering the season.

“We’re very thin in the jumps and hurdles right now, but hopefully the depth in the sprints helps us identify some guys who can slide into those spots and develop down the road,” he said. “Our distance crew is hurting for depth right now, but we have a few veterans who have a lot of experience, so hopefully they can hold down the fort for us.

“Sterlin, in particular, has had a great winter and has improved a ton since his freshman year, so it’ll be exciting to see what he does this year, but Preston and Brandon have been around and hopefully will be right with him. Our throwers were among the groups that were very young last year, and we’ve added a bunch of new throwers this year. We have a new throws coach, Coach Booth, who also coaches football, and I think the guys are really enjoying working with him and making progress. With about nine or ten guys right now and only two spots each in the shot and disc in the big meets, it’ll be interesting to see who emerges from that group. Hopefully the competition pushes all of them to be better.”

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