August 22, 2014

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Boys H.S. Track and Field: Max Seipel turned family tradition into a true love

Avon Lake senior Max Seipel hopes to improve on his fifth-place finish at the state meet in the shot put.  STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Avon Lake senior Max Seipel hopes to improve on his fifth-place finish at the state meet in the shot put. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Max Seipel grew up around track and field, so it’s no wonder it has become his passion.

The passion has paid off for the Avon Lake senior.

He was fifth at the Division I state meet in the shot put (57 feet, 8½ inches) after taking second at regionals (57-11½). Seipel was also a regional qualifier in discus, finishing seventh (168-1).

Seipel, the youngest of five children, grew up in a track family. Three of his four siblings were members of the Avon Lake track program: Shane (class of 2004), Zac (2007) and Summer (2011). Shane was a thrower, Zac a hurdler and pole vaulter and Summer a hurdler.

Max hung around with Shane starting at age 5 during the 2001 high school season. That’s when Mike D’Andrea, the greatest thrower in Lorain County history, won the first of his two state shot put titles. He added a discus title as a senior.

“I was Mike’s biggest fan,” Seipel said. “Everybody was saying to me don’t go around Mike before he throws because he gets very intense. My parents said I’d always run over to him and jump on his back and mess around with him. He handled it great. He’s such a nice guy. I love him.”

Avon Lake's Max Seipel

Avon Lake’s Max Seipel is a bona fide track man.

Seipel plans to attend Ohio State in the fall — just like four of his five siblings – and compete on the track team as a preferred walk-on.

His fondness for track goes back to his early years.

“I loved the camaraderie of the team,” Seipel said. “It was a relaxing atmosphere, but you also worked very hard. It was enjoyable but you push yourself very hard.”

Seipel enjoyed baseball, too. He played center field, but gave it up after 10 years in deference to track.

“Track has helped to build a lot of good friendships,” he said. “All my best friends are on the track team. I get to hang out with them all day.

“It’s got me to where I’m at now. I’m very honored to be a part of this program. I couldn’t have done any of it without coach (Bob) D’Andrea and coach (Rory) Scarvelli. They put in all the work to help me out. It means a lot.”

Bob D’Andrea, Mike’s dad, has been the Avon Lake throws coach for the past 10 years. The Seipels and D’Andreas are neighbors on Meridian Court.

“Max used to come over to the house and ask to play with Mike,” Bob D’Andrea said. “It was hilarious. He’d come to the front door and ask if Mike could come out and play. Mike would always come out. They’d always go into the front yard and horse around. He’s always been very close.

“He’s a hard worker, a great kid, unbelievable attitude. You can’t find a kid with a more positive attitude. If you look at his size, he’s not the biggest kid out there, but his work ethic is what takes him through everything. He practices his form constantly. The other kids tell me he practices his form in the hallway. He’s always going through his steps. He’s always going through his form. He’s just an incredibly hard worker.”

Seipel’s goals for the season are simple and straightforward, propelled by a solid training plan.

“I want to do better than I did last year,” he said. “I have trust in my training. I throw five days a week and lift four days a week. I lift pretty heavy. I don’t do a ton of reps because I’m working on my explosive strength.”

Bob D’Andrea believes Seipel has the potential for some of the program’s top throws since Mike D’Andrea set county records of 67-6½ for shot put and 190-5 for discus in 2002.

“I believe Max is capable of about 60 for the shot put and 190 for discus,” Bob D’Andrea said. “We’ve had a lot of other great throwers over the years besides Mike: Jake Young, Sean McCann, Sean Murello and Matt DeChant. Max is such a great ambassador for our program, too. We have the most throwers we’ve ever had since I’ve coached with the team — 28 (18 boys, 10 girls).”

Unlike many high school throwers, Seipel is a bona fide track man. He’s run 52.6 for the open 400 meters and split 50.6 for the 1,600 relay. Seipel was an All-SWC and All-Lorain County safety last fall and played wide receiver and punter.

“He’s like his brother Shane,” Bob D’Andrea said. “Max is very coordinated. Rory and I work closely with the kids starting in the junior high. Max finished second for discus at the state middle school meet as an eighth-grader. You could see when he was young. He had that level of aggressiveness, never quitting, but never yet getting disappointed. If he didn’t do well one toss, he let it go. He’d go on to the next throw. You could see it in him at an early age.”

Contact Paul Heyse at 440-329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.

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