The Miami East Vikings have a large number of athletes participating in all four spring sports and the talent across the board leads to high expectations in baseball, softball and track and field.
MIAMI EAST BASEBALL
The Miami East baseball program has been in a steady incline the past five seasons under coach Dean Denlinger and looks to take another step forward in 2022 after winning a league title a year ago.
Last season, in the old Cross County Conference, the Vikings finished 17-6 overall and 9-2 in the CCC to win the league championship in the final season of the conference.
This year the Vikings will compete in the inaugural season of the Three Rivers Conference against Bethel, Covington, Milton-Union, Troy Christian, Riverside, Lehman Catholic and Northridge.
“Our goals are to start and finish the season with a positive team identity and improve from our failures,” commented Denlinger. “We want to win the league and finish strong in the tournament.”
And Miami East has the horses to accomplish those goals as it has huge numbers in the program – 15 varsity players and 25 reserve players.
“Our numbers are really strong and will continue to get stronger,” Denlinger said. “We have really good numbers way down into fifth and sixth grade.”
Leading the way for the Vikings are six seniors who return from a year ago; Austin Francis (Catcher/Pitcher), Gage Butz (Center Fielder/Pitcher), Ethan Howell (First Baseman/Pitcher), Nathan Woolley (Outfielder/Pitcher), Jacob Demmitt (Second Baseman/Outfielder), and Austin Monnin (Outfielder).
Two key sophomores also return after stellar seasons a year ago as freshmen; Luke Hamaker (Second Baseman/Pitcher) and Connor Apple (Shortstop/Pitcher).
Many more players are in the mix to contribute as the Vikings are blessed with plenty of depth.
MIAMI EAST SOFTBALL
Brian Kadel has coached at Miami East for over decade, where he has built a winning culture around the sport of softball.
Kadel and the Vikings have eight returning starters from a team that finished with a 20-7 overall record and finished third (9-3) in a very tough Cross County Conference that housed the state champions. Miami East also reached the sectional final last season.
Leading the way for the Vikings are the five seniors; Kayleigh Kirby, Kayly Fetters, Kalli Teeters, Braven Mills and Mackenzie Noble.
“Our seniors will provide great leadership for a team with high expectations,” said Kadel.
Kirby is a dominating force for the Vikings at pitcher and shortstop. Last season she was a first-team All-Ohio selection after batting .500, hitting six home runs, driving in 41 runs and having an 1.685 on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Fellow senior Kayly Fetters and sophomore Reagan Howell were second-team all-conference a year ago. Fetters had a .412 batting average and an 1.056 on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Senior centerfielder Kalli Teeters also returns after a big season a year ago as she scored 40 runs on the season and had an on-base percentage and slugging percentage of 1.063.
Also returning after starting a year ago are juniors Rachael Haak and Kiera Kirby, along with sophomores Madison Maxson, and Aibigail Kadel.
The Vikings also see the return of two players who were out last season with unfortunate injuries; senior Braven Mills and junior Meg Gilliland.
“Braven (Mills) was set to start at catcher last year before breaking her ankle,” Kadel explained. “Plus, getting Meg (Gilliland) back provides great speed and solid defense in the outfield.”
Two more players will also contribute greatly thanks to development in the off-season, junior Annabelle Penny and freshman Jacqueline Kadel.
“Annabelle (Penny) will be a key because she will compete for pitching duties,” Kadel stated. “Jacqueline (Kadel) will also be competing for pitching duties as well as time in the outfield.”
Miami East enters a new era in 2022 as it competes in the newly formed Three Rivers Conference against the likes of Bethel, Covington, Lehman Catholic, Milton-Union, Northridge, Riverside and Troy Christian.
“This team expects to take experience from last year and continue to grow and develop this season,” summarized Kadel. “We expect to compete for a league title this year and hope to make a deep run in the tournament.”
MIAMI EAST GIRLS TRACK
The Miami East girls return a lot of talent to the track after a stellar season a year ago where the Lady Vikings won the league championship in the old Cross County Conference.
The Vikings also won the annual Austin Bruner Invitational at Tri-Village and the Arcanum Invitational, plus finished runner-up in the Covington Invitational and Tecumseh Invitational.
This year, coach Preston Elifritz has high expectations once again.
“Our goals as a squad, we’d like to compete in every invitational to place in the top three,” he stated. “We will compete in the first ever TRC Championship and look to vie for a league title.”
And Elifritz has the ammunition to do just that as he returns all-around athletes in field events and on the track.
Lindi Snodgrass (JR), Maria Broerman (SO) and Kinley Lavendar (JR) are key performers in sprinting and hurdling events, while Kennedee Elifritz (SO) and Kyley Davie (SR) lead the way in mid-distance races. Maryn Gross (SO) will contribute greatly in the long distance events.
In the field events, Anna Rowley (JR), Kylee McKinney (JR) and Cora Kinard (SO) will lead the way in jumps, while Annika Paton and (JR) Shelby Preston (JR) are the key contributors in throwing events.
MIAMI EAST BOYS TRACK
Miami East coach Steve Karnehm enters his 13th year as the Vikings’ track coach where his program has thrived over the years.
And the Vikings look to keep the tradition of success rolling in 2022 after winning the Cross County Conference a year ago and sending five competitors to the state meet – four who return this year.
“We will be relatively strong, assuming we stay healthy,’ commented Karnehm. “Our greater assets will be middle distance as well as distance and pole vault. Our throwers are coming along well and our jumpers are relatively new.”
The key returning performers for the Vikings are Kaden Weldy (10) sprints, Anthony Putnam (12) throws, Jayden Hatcher (12) sprints/middle distance, AJ Ary (11) pole vault, Josh Amheiser (11) pole vault and middle distance, Dylan Barnes (11) middle distance, Clark Bennett (11) middle distance, Drake Bennett (10) middle distance, Hunter Hawkins (12) hurdles, Braden Monnin (12) distance and Elijah Willmeth (11) distance.
With the talent and experience on the roster, Karnehm has high hopes entering a new league, the Three Rivers Conference.
“Of course, we would like to win the first edition of the new Three Rivers Conference,” he stated. “But the competition will be strong from Milton, Covington, and Bethel. We have a strong schedule, so that should help us also.”
Karnehm and his athletes also have aspirations of breaking records.
“The kids would like to see us break the school record in the 4X4 as we ran 3:27 last year,” he continued. “Both vaulters have the potential to vault 14′ plus and would like to do well on the state level.”
Look for a big year from Miami East in 2022.