Lake Forest boys’ track team running toward conference, state championships

FELTON — Track and field is unlike any other high school sport due to the variety of individual talents needed to put a competitive team together.

One such team that has been able to come up with all of the ingredients needed is the Lake Forest boys’ track squad.

The Spartans were sporting an 11-1 record and are considered one of the favorites to win both the Henlopen Conference and Division II state championships.

Lake Forest throwing coach Lou Copio, left, and head coach Fred Johnson, second from right, are looking for seniors Brian Stevens, right, and John Flamer to help propel the Spartans to both a Henlopen Conference and Division II state championships. (Special to The Journal/Bill Mitchell)

Lake Forest throwing coach Lou Copio, left, and head coach Fred Johnson, second from right, are looking for seniors Brian Stevens, right, and John Flamer to help propel the Spartans to both a Henlopen Conference and Division II state championships. (Special to The Journal/Bill Mitchell)

There are reasons why Lake Forest has been able to put winning track teams together both on the boys’ and girls’ side almost every year.

“We have very good coaches (assistant Wayne Markland and throwing coach Lou Copio) that do a great job of preparing our athletes,” said track and field head coach Fred Johnson. “Our athletes do a good job of listening to the coaches and then working hard to do their best. So when you put good coaches together with kids that are willing to work you get positive results.”

Another element that makes the success of both of the track teams unique is they compete with seven other spring sports teams to fill the rosters from a student body of around 900.

“We just had an awards assembly in which we recognized the success of both our varsity and junior varsity athletes,” said Johnson, who is also the athletic director and head football coach at Lake Forest. “During the assembly I told our student athletes how proud I was of the way they support the school and do their best to make all our sports competitive.

“When you look at some of the other Henlopen South schools that have trouble filling both a junior varsity and varsity team in all sports, we are fortunate to have a dedicated student body that wants to participate.”

Johnson was somewhat disappointed his boys’ team’s run at a perfect season was recently sidetracked by an undefeated Dover squad.

“The loss was disappointing only because we didn’t perform to the best of our ability,” said Johnson in reference to the 77-67 loss to the Division I Senators. “I’m okay with losing as long as we do our best, which I feel we did not do.”

While Johnson was upset with the loss, it may have come with a silver lining pertaining to how the Spartans will perform in the Henlopen Conference and state meets.

“I feel the loss will make the team realize they need to compete at their best every meet and not have a letdown,” Johnson said. ‘We were not successful against Dover, but the kids know they have the capability of being conference champions and maybe even Division II state champs.

“So, I feel they are all going to now work a little harder and put in more effort so they can achieve their goals.”

When it comes to winning the conference championship, Johnson knows his team will have to be at its best.

Andre Salandy and the Lake Forest boys’ track team are searching for a Division II state title.  (Special to The Journal/Diamond State Records and Productions)

Andre Salandy and the Lake Forest boys’ track team are searching for a Division II state title. (Special to The Journal/Diamond State Records and Productions)

“We have a legitimate shot at winning,” he said. “However, Dover is a well-coached strong team that has great athletes in all of the track events.

“So, our kids, especially after losing our dual-meet to Dover, will need to be at their best in order to win the championship.”

Whereas Lake held its own in the track events against Dover, the difference between winning and losing was in the field categories in which the Spartans won just one of the six events.

“We do have a group of talented kids, including John (Flamer) and Brian (Stevens), who compete in the throwing events,” said Copio. “When you have kids like we have, it becomes an easy job to coach them.

“They know they didn’t do their best against Dover and that’s why they are putting in extra work throwing the shot and the discus.

Flamer was disappointed by the loss to Dover but is looking forward to putting a positive end to his Lake Forest High School career.

“It would have been great to beat Dover and have a chance at an undefeated season,” said the Spartans senior. “I’m looking forward to our final meet and the Henlopen championships because we will get another chance of beating Dover.”

Teammate Stevens, who is also a senior, echoed Flamer’s comments.

“I really feel we beat ourselves at Dover,” he said. “We will do better in the conference championships and I know we will do very well in the state meet.”

Lake Forest will host the Henlopen Conference meet Thursday and Friday starting at 4 p.m., and will compete in the DIAA state meet at Dover May 15 and 16.

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