Aside from a shortage of distance runners, the Bluejays will be fairly balanced across the board this year.
Tabor will compete without All-American Hannah Holmes, who placed eighth in the marathon at outdoor nationals a year ago and was an All-KCAC performer in the 5,000 and 10,000 last year.
Junior Alyssa Windle, a newcomer, will lead the throwing events. A national-qualifier in shot put during the indoor season, Windle will seek to qualify again outdoors.
Windle?s main event, the discus, is not thrown indoors.
?(Alyssa?s) best event is the discus, so I?m looking for some big throws from her this spring,? Kroeker said. ?The discus is the most technical of all of the throwing events, so it?s the hardest one to actually be consistent in.?
Windle will also throw the hammer.
Kroeker also looks for points from sophomore newcomer Taylor Vogt in the hammer and the shot put; and freshman Jamiah Evans in the hammer, discus and shot put.
Kroeker will rely on returning junior Ashton Kroeker and newcomer Amy Horner, a junior volleyball player at Tabor, to anchor the jumps. Both are expected to score points in the triple jump.
Ashton Kroeker will also compete in the high jump. A year ago, she finished fourth in the high jump (5-1) and fifth in the triple jump (36-113?4) at the KCAC outdoor meet.
Horner will also compete in the long jump and the 400 hurdles.
Tabor will not field any pole vaulters this year.
Meanwhile, on the track, freshman Aaliyah Carter will anchor the short sprints, running the 100, 200 and 400.
?She?s not the fastest girl in the conference, but she?ll be a scorer for us in the short sprints,? Kroeker said.
Junior Sarah Hagen and freshman Keeley Kroeker will run the middle distances races. Hagen finished sixth in the 400 (1:03.34) at the KCAC meet last year.
Freshman Julie Loewen will run the 1,500 and possibly the 800, while junior Katey Whitesell will run the 5,000.
Horner, Ashton Kroeker, Sarah Hagen and Carter have put together a surprising 4×100 relay, Kroeker said.
?We?ve actually broken 50 (seconds), which is the first time in a lot of years that I?ve had a girls? 4×100 team that ran under 50,? he said. ?They work well together. It is how fast you run, but it is more important how fast the stick moves, and I think there?s just some good chemistry there between those four girls.?
The Bluejay men, meanwhile, will rely heavily on the throws this season.
Kroeker has depth in the shot put, led by sophomore newcomer Robert Phillips, who is in his first year of track. Additional contenders include returning sophomore Johnny Loera, and juniors Daniel Quiring and Jonathan Gibson.
A year ago, Gibson placed third in that event with a throw of 46-4 at the KCAC meet, while Quiring finished fourth (46-21?2).
Quiring is expected to be Tabor?s top hammer thrower, Kroeker said. A year ago, he placed eighth (137-11). Join?ing him are Loera and junior Matt Richert.
?Those three guys have a good chance to be scorers at the conference outdoor meet in the hammer,? Kroeker said.
Meanwhile, Phillips will anchor the discus, with Loera and Quiring in there as well.
Freshman Austin Kurtz, who is a member of the Tabor football team, is expected to be a contender in the javelin.
?He might be a national qualifier in the javelin,? Kroeker said. ?He?s got that kind of talent.?
Kroeker expects good things from his throwers.
?The hammer, the discus and the shot put are going to be really good,? he said. ?If we?re going to score points, it?s going to be in the throws this year.?
Sophomore Avery Franz will fuel the jumps. He placed third in the KCAC in the triple jump a year ago (44-41?4). In addition to participating in the long jump, Franz is also learning the high jump, Kroeker said.
Tabor will not field any pole vaulters.
On the track, junior soccer player Cole Younger has joined the team and will contribute in the short sprints.
?(Cole) ran 10.95 (in the 100),? Kroeker said. ?It?s been awhile since I?ve had somebody under 11 (seconds). Cole?s been a really nice surprise in the short sprints.?
Sophomore Zac Krehbiel joins Younger in the sprints. He placed fifth in the 100 (11.08) and sixth in the 200 (23.16) last year at the KCAC meet.
Senior Tyler Parrish will anchor the middle-distance races, including the 800 and the 1,500. He placed eighth in the 800 last year (2:01.48). Joining him is junior Josh Richert.
Tabor will not have any long-distance runners this year, with the graduation of All-American Garrett Daugherty, who placed second in the 800 at nationals a year ago and won both the 800 and 1,500 at the KCAC meet. The Bluejays will also run without Joel Allen, who finished fifth in the 3,000 steeplechase and seventh in the 5,000 in the KCAC.
Based on Tabor?s KCAC finishes in the indoor season (sixth for the women, seventh for the men), Kroeker said he anticipates a top-half finish for both Bluejay squads in the outdoor season.
Friends is the conference favorite for both men?s and women?s teams this season.
For the Bluejays, success will be viewed in terms of personal improvement and peaking at the right time.
?Our training year culminates in the outdoor conference meet, on those two days,? Kroeker said. ?As a team, if we finish top half, sixth or better, in the conference, I would say we?ve had a successful season.?
Tabor was scheduled to compete at Hutchinson Night Relays Saturday. The Bluejays will travel to the Friends Invitational Friday and Saturday.