The Centre track and field team was well-represented at the state meet last year, and with most of his state qualifiers returning, fourth-year head coach Alan Stahlecker expects good things from the Cougars again this season.
“Last season we qualified the most athletes for state that we have in a number of years,” he said. “With only losing one to graduation, I am expecting us to be competitive in those events—all running events.”
In field events, the boys’ team lacks throwers, but the girls should have some depth in that category, Stahlecker said. He also expects the jumpers to be competitive.
The girls return three state qualifiers, all expected to be key contributors again this season.
Junior Cacey Simons and sophomore Brenna Shields were members of the 4×100 team that earned 13th at state with a time of 54.28 seconds.
Sophomore Shelby Makovec returns as a state qualifier in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, earning 12th and 13th, respectively, at state.
Stahlecker also expects to see good things from Simons in the 200 and high jump, and from Shields in the 100, 400 and long jump.
The girls also will be aided by returning sophomore letter-winner Nellie Kassebaum in the 800 and 1,600.
Newcomers expected to contribute are seniors Anna Weber (4×100, triple jump) and Beka Basore (4×400, middle distance).
Stahlecker is hopeful the depth on the girls’ roster will lead to good things this season.
“Our numbers should help us to be competitive on the girls’ side in the Wheat State League,” he said. “I believe we should have at least one athlete who can compete for medals in every event, and so I am hoping our depth will help us compete.”
Meanwhile, numbers are low for the boys this season. The Cougars will rely heavily on last year’s state qualifiers.
All four members of the state-qualifying 4×100 team return: seniors Justin Deines and Houston Svoboda, junior Grant Srajer and sophomore Conner Montgomery. The relay placed 16th at state in 47.89.
The foursome is expected to be a force in multiple events.
Svoboda took 15th at state in the 100 (11.91), and is expected to contribute in the 200.
Montgomery will be competitive in the 100 and 200, Stahlecker said. Srajer will be a force in the 100, long jump and triple jump, and Deines will contribute in the 200.
Returning letter-winner, junior Ty Simons, will contribute in both hurdle events.
Another key will be returning sophomore Dakota Stimpson.
“Dakota looks ready to contribute in both of the boys’ hurdle events,” Stahlecker said.
Numbers may prove to be a challenge for the boys.
“We will strive for high placement in the events in which we compete, but we have no middle to long distance runners and only a limited number of throwers—all in the javelin,” Stahlecker said.
While the juniors and seniors on this year’s roster may be small in number—seven in all—Stahlecker expects mighty things from them.
“We don’t have a large number of upperclassmen, but they should all do well,” he said.
Also important will be the growth of the 17 younger team members.
“We have a lot of underclassmen who will need to develop and become more competitive as the season goes on,” Stahlecker said.
Centre is scheduled to open competition with a five-team meet at Hillsboro April 2.