Bureau County athletes getting their kicks with new sports

Princeton's Miyah Fox runs down the ball against Sterling Thursday at Bryant Field. The Tigresses won 3-1.

Miyah Fox has been a standout for all seasons at Princeton High School, participating in volleyball, basketball and track and field.

For her last season before graduating, she’s trying something new - soccer. She hasn’t played it since youth soccer.

She’s glad she did and is having some kicks playing again.

“I actually really do love it. It’s something, just for my last year,” she said. It’s really fun and I love all the girls. I’ve gotten really close with a lot of them.

“I used to play it when I was really younger, (in) PYSL and really liked it. My family was like, ‘Why don’t you try it one of your years.’ And so this year, when Keighley Davis wasn’t going out for track, (I said) ‘I’ll do soccer with you.’ And so we’re doing it and we really like it.”

Princeton senior Miyah Fox makes a throw-in Tuesday night against L-P at Bryant Field. The Cavs won 6-1.

Davis is also glad to get back in soccer again.

“I am really liking soccer it’s fun and something new. I did it because I was wanting something new to do and I have played soccer before and I wanted to kinda get back into it,” she said.

Fox and Davis are just two of several area athletes picking up something new this spring.

Bureau Valley juniors McKinley Canady and Landra Hitzler have made the move from the softball diamond to track.

Princeton sophomore Casey Etheridge is running track this year for the Tigers.

And Hall sophomore Kennedy Wozniak has come out for softball for the first time.

Princeton's Keighley Davis gets her kicks against HBR Monday night at Bryant Field. The Tigresses won 7-1.

Fox and Davis have made an immediate pact for the Tigresses soccer team.

“They’re fast. That’s real helpful to have speed up front,” teammate Devin Dever said.

PHS soccer coach David Gray said Fox has natural abilities that translate well to the soccer pitch.

“She’s an athlete and she’s got a lot of athletic instincts,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of correlation between basketball understanding and soccer understanding. So I think she’s got a natural ability of finding where the right place to be is and she’s fast, which is awesome to have on the soccer field.

“You can’t coach that. It’s just funny, because she looks like she’s running so casual, but she’s running by people.”

Fox is the niece of one of Princeton’s all-time soccer greats, Jasmine Kunkel, who’s wondering what’s taken her so long to play soccer.

“She’s kind of mad at me I didn’t play all four years,” Fox said with a laugh. “She was good. I’ve got to got to hold the genes, I guess.”

Hall softball coach Ellen Hermann was happy to have Wozniak come out this year and said she has done a nice job playing outfield and doing some catching.

“She hasn’t played since junior high, and she was a little rusty at the first few practices, but has gotten better each day of the season,” Herrmann said. “She is now our No. 2 hitter and has been consistently getting on base for us and hitting the ball hard. We’re really proud of her.”

Wozniak, who also plays for the Hall volleyball and softball teams, said she had a lot of activities going on, and playing high school softball did not fit into her schedule before.

“I missed the camaraderie of my team, I enjoy being with my girls, and win or lose we are a team,” she said. “We are playing a lot of good quality teams, and as a young team ourselves we are getting experience. I have not swung a bat in three years. It is tough to catch up with these players, but I am trying.”

McKinley Canady

Canady and Hitzler both have played softball for a long time, but were ready for something new.

“I wasn’t enjoying softball and wanted to try something new. I’m enjoying it very much,” Hitzler said.

“I haven’t ran track before. I’ve played softball my whole life, so track is completely new to me this year,” Canady said. “I decided to do track this year after realizing I didn’t love playing softball anymore. I just wanted to try something new, and I’m so glad I did. I love my coaches and teammates. They make the environment great.”

Storm track coach Jennifer Backer said Canady and Hitzler have been a great asset to the Storm.

“They fit into the program like they have been here the whole time,” she said. “They are both talented athletes and we are very lucky to have them. They are very goal driven, and continue to work hard daily to hopefully get to the state competition.”

Landry Hitzler

Backer said both have been quick learners.

“McKinley has fit right into the relay teams and took on triple jump like she has been doing it for years. She works hard and is open to whatever I throw at her to do for an event,” she said. “Landry is another talented athlete that is bringing a lot to the field events side of things. She has quickly risen up our leaderboard in shot put and consistently is PR-ing. She learned pole vault in one day and is still continuing to work with that event. She is definitely a quick runner as well. She has some nice sprints in her legs.”

The Bureau Valley boys track team has picked up a cast of new talent with junior Aidan Besler from baseball as a junior, as well as first-year seniors Connor Scott and Blake Erickson and junior Ayden Andrade and sophomores Brandon Carrington, Riggins Shafer and Zac Wiggim, who are all running for the first time.

Storm coach Dan DeVenney said all have been a welcomed addition.

“Most of them have played other sports with each other, so they already have that camaraderie that you want on your team,” he said. “Many of them have said they don’t know why they waited to join the track team and they wish they’d have done it earlier in high school. We’ve tried to give them opportunities to learn and do as many events as they would like to, and a couple have really caught on and made improvements and scored at some of the invitational meets for us.”

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