SALEM Salem's jump to the NBC hasn't been an easy one. The football team suffered setbacks. The basketball team just couldn't get over the hump. The baseball team finished winless. The softball team has struggled. And the boys' track team, well, the boys' track team has excelled.
Heading into the NBC meet today, the Quakers are 7-0, having defeated all league teams head-to-head.
In dual meets, Salem has topped Minerva, West Branch, Alliance, Canton South, Marlington, Louisville and Carrollton. The undefeated dual record has the Quakers in prime position to win the conference title. Not bad for the new kids on the block.
"The league it itself is very competitive and it was all new to us," Salem coach Todd Huda said. "We had never really competed in dual meets that meant anything before. This year, it's different with every dual meet counting towards a chance at a league title."
To win that title, the Quakers must finish today's meet in second place. Huda is hoping for a little more.
"If we place second, we win the league title," he said. "But we're not going there to take second. We're going there to win. Our first goal was to win the county. Our second goal is the league championship. Next week, we want to get as many of our kids out of districts and to the regionals and then get as many kids on to the state meet. But right now, we're focusing on the NBC."
The Quakers' winning ways have garnered attention. Most of that attention has been bestowed on junior discus standout Anthony Shivers and for good reason. Shivers broke the school record six separate times this season. Right now, it stands at 179-6. The throw is currently the best in Division II.
"Anthony is having a great season," Huda said. "He just keeps breaking his own records and keeps pushing himself. He's done a great job and continues to do a great job."
Shivers' accomplishments aside, Huda says it's the senior Quakers who have been the backbone to this season's success.
"Our senior leadership has been outstanding," he said. "That's our strength. Austin Noel and Zack Penick, our sprinters, have been incredible leaders. Trent Kenreigh, our long jumper, had the longest jump in school history. Nick Costa has really stepped up as our distance runner. Scott Lodge does whatever we ask him. At the NBC meet, he'll compete in our 4X800 relay and our 300 hurdles. You couldn't ask for a better kid to coach."
And then there's senior thrower Steve Manypenny. A force in shot put and discus, Manypenny's talent often goes overlooked behind Shivers.
"Steve has the fourth best throw in school history," Huda said. "He doesn't get the credit he deserves because Tony is so good. Steve gets overshadowed but is a big, big part of our team. I mean he's one of top four ever at Salem. That's a big accomplishment."
Accomplishments seem to come easy for the 2012 Quakers. Those accomplishments have opened eyes in the NBC and around the state, but Huda saw it all coming. He's not surprised. His team has not exceeded expectations. They met simply them.
"I've had this group since they were freshmen," he said. "I knew we were going to be pretty good this season. I know what this group was capable of."