Under the direction of third-year head coach Brian Lightner, the Peabody-Burns track and field team will look to improve on last year’s season, which saw the girls finishing fourth in the Wheat State League and the boys finishing sixth.
Having 27 athletes on the roster—an increase from last season— will be a strength of the Warriors, especially the boys.
“This will allow us to compete more in practice for spots as well as fill events in track meets,” Lightner said.
With seven girls on the roster and only two seniors—both of whom are participating for the first time in a few years—Lightner said it will take time to develop his young team.
Anchoring the girls will be returning sophomore letter-winners Kenzie Young (distance) and Carlee Wentworth (relays and javelin).
Lightner also will look to seniors Brandee Burnett and Kortney Foth for contributions.
“Our goal is to be at our best in May for the league meet,” Lightner said. “In order to do that, improvement of our younger athletes and our upperclassmen competing at a high level will be key. “
It will take time to find roles and responsibilities for the individuals in the team,” he added.
Looking ahead to the league meet, Lightner said: “I see Little River, Centre and Goessel competing for the top spot on the girls’ side. A finish in the top half of the league would be a successful season for our girls.”
Meanwhile, the boys’ team will be anchored by a core group of seniors and letter-winners, led by senior Seth Topham, a returning state qualifier who placed sixth in high jump with a personal record of 6 feet last year. Topham also is expected to be a force in the hurdles and relays this season.
Lightner also will rely on senior letter-winners Lucas Larsen (throws) and Zach Preheim (hurdles and relays).
“These seniors have been out all four years of high school, and their leadership and experience will be necessary to help the younger athletes compete at their highest level,” he said.
Other seniors providing leadership will be Jayden Miller, a returning letter-winner in the throws, and Adam Sheffler, who will compete in the discus.
Lightner has five non-senior letter-winners on the roster: juniors Michael George (sprints) and Christian Chastain (distance) and sophomores Colton Terronez (throws), Nick Preheim (shot put) and Braxton Kyle (high jump and javelin).
As for the league outlook, Lightner said: “Our numbers on the boys’ side could allow us to finish in the top three. I expect Solomon, Little River or White City to lead the way, but would not be surprised if we were right there in contention.”
The Warriors are scheduled to open competition April 2 at Herington.