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Kaylob Kobza

Lakeview senior Kaylob Kobza poses for a photo during practice last week. Kobza is hoping to qualify for state this year after making it as a sophomore. The Vikings failed to send any athletes to Burke Stadium last year.

Lakeview boys track and field came up empty in 2018 after qualifying Kaylob Kobza to the state meet in the 400 the year before.

It was the second time in three seasons the Vikings failed to send anyone to state. That seems quite odd for a program that qualified eight events in 2014 and sent more than on entry in two of those events.

A year removed from last year's 0-fer, Viking coaches and athletes are back in training focused on the future, not the past.

Head coach Don Bentz said he hopes missing out on the trip to Omaha lights a fire under his team.

"I hope so," he said. "I hope it does for our boys. I'm hoping that definitely helps motivate them to get there. It does for me, too. You don't ever want to have a team where you don't get somebody to qualify. There's a little bit more motivation going into this season."

Senior Kaylob Kobza qualified in the 400 meters as a sophomore two years ago - part of contingent that included athletes in the shot put and the 300 hurdles.

He was 18th that year with a time of 52.94 seconds and was one of only seven underclassmen to make the event at state in Class B. 

"I'm just trying to start off strong, get as much conditioning as possible," he said about his senior year. "We have a bunch of new guys out, so that'll be good for the year and help us push each other."

Kobza's current personal record in the 400 is 50.7 set as a sophomore. This year, Kobza said his goals are breaking his personal best and making state again. 

The trick to success in his event, he says, is mental toughness. 

"It's the last 100 and then it's mainly just all guys," he said. "There's no real training for it. You can only be the best you're conditioned and you just have to have a lot of heart in it."

The largest group of Vikings on the roster comes from the freshmen and senior classes, creating a interesting dynamic of youth and inexperience. 

"I'm excited that we finally got to get outside and get some practice in," Bentz said last week. "The weather has finally kind of turned for us. I'm excited about the year. We've got 32 boys out this year. A majority of those are freshmen and seniors. We have a small group of sophomores and juniors"

There is also a group of seniors that have switched from playing soccer to participate in track.

"I'm excited," Bentz said. "We have a lot of freshmen coming in, and we have a couple new seniors that have come out this year that had been playing soccer that I think our definitely going to help us. There's a couple of them in the throws. Field events, I think they're going to help us out as well."

While it may be difficult to compete in team standing due purely to the size of the roster, there are some areas of strength according to Bentz.

"I think right now probably our middle distance and distance races," he said. "I think they're going to be a strong point for us. I think our throws. Our shot put, we're going to have two, possibly three, really solid shot putters for us this year. A couple of them might come around for us in discus.

"We just have a lot of unknowns with our freshman. I know that a few of them have had some success in the past. A few of them qualified for the junior high state track meet. It's just quite a step up to go from junior high to varsity. Middle distance, distance and shot put are probably going to be our strong points."

Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sports@columbustelegram.com 

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