Let it suffice to say the bar has been set very high from the outset this year.
Graduation removed state medalists Erin Carr, Danielle Cope and Erin Richmond from the roster, but a solid core returns for the new season.
“We did OK in the off-season,” Thierolf said. “We had a nice year last year with a number of freshmen and sophomores getting big-meet experience, and many of them hit the weight room.
“Now we have a group of sophomores and juniors we’re excited about.”
Chief among the group with upper-echelon experience and skill is Julia Zeiner. Zeiner turned in a silver-medal performance in the long jump as a freshman. She placed seventh in the 400-meter run and medaled with the second-place 4×100 relay anchored by Carr.
Thierolf said Zeiner is an early favorite to anchor the 4×100.
Camille Christensen, a junior, placed sixth in the 3,200 and will likely anchor a 4×800 that Thierolf expects to be “pretty good.”
“We’re also going to put together a 4×400 that will be pretty good,” he said.
In addition to strength in both sprints and distance races, Thierolf said the squad also will be strong in the jumping events.
Running with Zeiner (pole vault) in the 4×100 will be sophomores Kayley Heerey (100, triple jump, javelin) and Kristen Steinborn (100, 200) and senior Kalaya Jackson (long jump, triple jump).
Along with Christensen, the 4×800 will include sophomores Bridget Lundy (800) and Jaclyn DeForest (1,600) and junior Amanda Richmond (800).
“Camille and Amanda both did a great job last year,” Thierolf said. “And we think Lundy will show the same improvement on the track as she showed on the basketball court.”
Lundy also will be part of the 4×400, along with Steinborn, Richmond and freshmen Donna Cady (800) and Kathy Goering (high jump, long jump, triple jump).
Marion has two senior throwers: Kimber Hardey (shot, discus) and Amara Prescott (shot, discus, javelin).
Thierolf said consistent work in practice will be a key to success this year and echoed the praise he gave Carr a year ago.
“Erin showed what working hard in the weight room can do for an athlete,” he said.
While the girls have earned top billing, the boys are not to be underestimated.
Senior Justin Heidebrecht and sophomore Ryan Jones—one half of the 4×800 relay that earned a seventh-place medal at the state meet—are the team’s only returning qualifiers.
Jason Hett, who anchored that relay, and John Barr III both graduated, leaving two spots to fill. Thierolf expects strong competition for those positions.
“We’ve got three different 4x800s we’ll try out in our first meet,” Thierolf said. “So we’ll find out who is going to step up pretty quickly.”
Adam Regnier, a junior, is an early candidate to grab one of the spots with the “A” relay. Thierolf sees five others vying for the fourth spot: seniors Charlie Holub and Hank Collett, and sophomores Louis Holt, Elliot Hett and Eric Vogel.
“They’re all going to do a great job for us,” Thierolf said. “It’s not a bad problem to have.
“Our relays will evolve—at least, I hope they will. I hope we’re that competitive.”
Thierolf hopes to find competition up and down a roster that goes 44 deep. He anticipates that the throwing corps will be the strongest part of the team.
“We’re awfully excited about the throwers we’ve got,” Thierolf said. “Except for Austin Hager, they’re all young.”
Hager (shot, javelin) is one of the team’s six seniors. Thierolf highlighted sophomores Parker Ash and Doug Schroeder in the shot put.
Thierolf pointed to three discus throwers: juniors Derek Riggs and Matt Thierolf and sophomore Nick Klenda.
“I think we’ll be solid,” he said. “Nick is far and away our best on discus, and he’ll be in the mix to qualify.”
Juniors Mitchell Leppke and Mark Kukuk and sophomore Sheldon Boone all throw javelin.
Thierolf said, “We’re lucky to have flexibility, but maturing will be a key for us.”
The season begins April 1 when the Warriors host a five-team meet at Marion.