• Long Beach Breeze

Long Beach hosts Olan Welch Track Meet

By Andy Kanengiser

Track Meet

Plenty of pole vaulters, speedy runners and high hurdlers on the Gulf Coast will show off their talents at a track meet March 4. Student-athletes tossing the shot put will be there, too.

That’s the date when Long Beach High hosts the 3rd annual Olan Welch Invitational Track Meet. The event is named in honor of the retired Long Beach Bearcats track coach.

The Bearcats track team is among nineteen squads registered for the competition at Lance Lumpkin Stadium.

During Welch’s tenure as the Bearcats track and field coach, he was delighted to have then-fourteen-year-old middle schooler Brooklyn Biancamano on the squad in 2018. At an early age, Biancamano established a couple of state records and was rated among the best top young runners in the USA.

In 2020-21, Biancamano keeps making headlines for the Bearcats as a fabulous cross country runner and track standout. For nine years, she played soccer, until she switched to cross country as a seventh grader and has excelled ever since. Among her many honors, Biancamano was named Mississippi’s 2019-20 Gatorade Player of the Year award winner for girls track and field. She won the award the previous year, too.

Her mom, assistant Bearcats track coach Erin Biancamano, says she is proud of her daughter at Long Beach High. But she’s just as positive about the performances of the entire team.

It’s a strong Bearcats track squad that keeps growing in February.

“We are waiting on other sports to complete our roster,’’ Coach Biancamano said. “We just added soccer players and will still need basketball to finish their season. Our numbers look great so far. There’s lots of interest from new athletes this year.”

Newcomers to the Long Beach track team this spring include Lauren Bennett, Gabriella Setnikar, Natalie Crapps and Hannah Hartley from the Lady Bearcats soccer squad. Dylan Kippas joins from the Bearcats boys soccer team.

“These athletes are a welcome addition to our program,” Biancamano said. “We are hoping for more athletes to commit, as well, and can’t wait to see how they can contribute.”

There are other big events happening for the Bearcats track teams this spring. The 14th annual Bearcat Classic Track meet is set for March 18 at Lance Lumpkin Stadium.

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