“Of all the sports these past few years, the most success has come from these girls, and it’s a credit to their athletic ability and their interest in the sport,” Boldt said. “We lose two thirds of our points from last year.
“But you keep going on,” he added. “When someone leaves a position, it opens it up for someone else. Kids will fill in.
“I’m not going to tell you we’re going to replace those points this year—it’s not going to happen. But we will have an excellent group of girls out there.”
Heading that list are the returning members of the 2007 state-championship team: senior Chelsea Bebermeyer, who placed sixth in discus and 10th in shot put; sophomore Dakota Kaufman, who placed fourth in triple jump; junior Tiffany Rooker, who was a member of the second-place 4×400 team; and junior Shelby Koons, who was an alternate on that relay team.
“We’ve got good state experience coming back,” Boldt said. “I always feel that if you can kind of keep a nucleus going, it will pay dividends.”
At the same time, Boldt has realistic expectations of this year’s squad of 15 girls.
“We’re not going to kid ourselves to say we’re going to be a major threat at the state track meet this year,” he said. “But I think our girls can still band together, rally around those relays and still pull something together that we can take to state. Our goal, as always, is to take as many kids as we can.”
Boldt expects Bebermeyer to be strong again in her two throwing events, while Kaufman should be competitive in the triple and long jumps and could be a force to be reckoned with in the open 400 as well as the 4×400 and 4×100.
Rooker and Koons will be prime candidates for relay roles, as well as the open sprints. Another contributor in the sprints could be Carmen Hawkinson. The senior ran on Smoky Valley’s state 4×100 team two years ago, but battled injuries in her first season at Hillsboro last year.
A third relay and sprint candidate, junior Abi Humber, who also was an alternate on the state 4×400 team last season, is rehabilitating an injured knee and will not compete this season.
The boys’ team
For the Trojan boys, graduation and football injuries will have an impact on this year’s team.
Sean Leihy, Adam Dirks and Michael Suderman and Tyler Kaufman have graduated after qualifying for state last season, and current seniors Jacob Yoder and Spencer Brown are coming off shoulder and knee injuries, respectively, from this past fall.
Because of the shoulder, Yoder will not throw the javelin or compete in long jump this season, both of which were point-producing events a year ago. He will likely focus on sprints.
In consideration of his recovering knee, Brown will focus on sprints and the shorter relays this season after qualifying for state with the 4×800 team a year ago. He may also add the javelin.
“You combine the kids we graduated last spring with a couple of injuries we have this year, and we’re down,” Boldt admitted. “But we are definitely not out.”
The Trojan coach thinks the strong suit of this year’s team will be middle-distance running.
Although Brown may be out of the mix, Hillsboro returns an outstanding runner in senior Cody McMillen, who set a new school record and finished fifth at state in the 3,200 meters.
“Cody McMillen will probably be our premier point scorer coming back,” Boldt said.
In addition to the 3,200, McMillen will return to the 4×800 and possibly the 4×400 teams. He also may run an occasional 1,600 meters.
Also contributing in the middle distance races will be sophomore Nathan Vogel, juniors Nicholas Mueller and Matthew Klenda and senior Johnathan Christian.
Junior Ishmael Morris is a returning member of the state-qualifying 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams, and will contribute additional points in the sprints, from the 100 to the 400.
Boldt also is looking for points from senior Grant Schneider in the hurdles and junior David Loewen in field events such as javelin and discus.
Boldt expects the Mid-Central Activities Association to be tough again this year.
“I’ve always said the league is a good indicator of how good you are as a track team because the teams are the same from year to year,” Boldt said.
In the girls’ division, Boldt foresees Marion, Hesston and Smokey Valley as the top contenders.
“I’d like to think we’re sill in the top half of the league, just because we’ll bring in some big points on the girls’ side,” he said. “Chelsea and Dakota and our relays could bring in some big points to get us started.”
Boldt’s outlook is similar for the boys. Sterling, Smoky Valley and Hesston are his early picks for the top spots.
He is looking for a top-half finish for his boys.
“There’s no reason our middle-distance and our relays couldn’t bring in some great points,” Boldt said. “That would get us in the top half. Once you get above the top half, it’s anybody’s game.”
No home meets
Hillsboro will practice, but not compete, at the Tabor College track this season. HHS has declined to host its annual five-team meet in April, and will move the April 25 James Thomas Invitational to the Bethel College track in North Newton.
The decision to move the meets was made months ago with the prospect of a new track and football facility being under construction on the Tabor campus this spring.
When the Brandt lawsuit has put the project on hold, the district decided to maintain its arrangement with Bethel College for the next two years.
Although the current track has some issues, particularly in wet weather, Boldt said a key reason for keeping the Bethel arrangement is that field events at the Tabor complex are quickly affected by wet weather, too.
“I’m really disappointed,” Boldt said about the delay caused by the lawsuit. “But the truth is the people who are losing out are the kids.”
Hillsboro will begin its competitive schedule next Tuesday, when the Trojans join Marion, Hesston, Berean and Sterling for five-team meet at Marion. Events begin at 4:30 p.m.