With the boys? and girls? team each boasting a returning state medalist and potential school-record challenger?plus a half-dozen or so mostly young returning letter-winners?the Hillsboro track and field team will be looking to make some waves in 2011.
Coach Dennis Boldt sees middle- and long-distance events being the strength of his boys? team, led by senior Joel Allen, who placed third in Class 3A in the 3,200 meter last spring.
This past fall, Allen set the school record in the 5,000-meter distance in cross country.
?Joel has a couple of things in mind,? Boldt said. ?He wants to get that school record, he wants to win the state strack meet.
?A lot of kids we tell to dream big, and you never want to give kids unrealistic expectations. But this is a realistic expectations. He has the experience, he has the work ethic.?
The current school record in the 3,200 is 9 minutes, 51.73 seconds set by Cody McMillen in 2008.
?I feel confident he?ll get that, depending on the weather and the competition,? Boldt said of Allen.
Augmenting Allen?s prowess in distance events is a cluster of talented runners, including letter-winners Bret Mueller and Josh Richert, plus newcomers Avery Frantz, a freshman cross-country runner, and senior Justin King, who is coming out for track for the first time after a strong cross-country season this fall.
?We have other kids running middle distance, but I think these will make an impact, from the 800 to the 3,200, plus the 4×800 and maybe even the 4×400,? Boldt said.
In other events, the Trojan head coach is looking for strong contributions from senior Jordan Riggs in the javelin, and sophomores Tyler Proffitt in the pole vault, Mitchell Day in the sprints and Shaq Thiessen in the high jump.
Proffitt and Thiessen just missed qualifying for state as freshmen.
Senior Caleb Hilliard, out for track for the first time, could make an impact as a multi-event athlete, according to Boldt.
?He could fit in many events, there?s no question,? he said. ?The thing I?m concerned about is that we don?t want him to train in so many events that he doesn?t do well in one. But we?re excited to have him out.?
For the girls, junior Callie Serene leads the list of returning letter-winners after earning a fifth-place state medal in the 800 last spring.
?Callie is an extremely strong runner,? Boldt said. ?She?s really developed this year?she?s taller and stronger. Her times right now are as good as the middle of the season last year.
?I said one of her goals needs to be?weather permitting and all that?to get our school record in the 800. There?s no question she could beat that.?
The current record of 2:22.4 was set in 1984 by Angie Helmer.
Serene could also be part of a 4×400 team, maybe even a 4×800 team, that would include a group of sophomore sprinters and jumpers. The group includes Heather Mayfield, Peyton Loewen, Rhonda Rogers, Taylor Thiessen and Erika Just.
Mayfield challenged for a state berth in high jump last spring and could do so again this year.
Boldt also highlighted the potential of three freshmen.
?I?m excited by a couple of freshmen in our throws?Taylor Vogt and Morganne Hamm, who scored in our league last year,? he said. ?And Erin Wiebe as a middle-distance runner I think is going to do an excellent job.?
On his combined roster of 35 athletes, 24 are sophomores or freshmen.
?I think it?s always good to have young kids coming up,? Boldt said. ?The most exciting thing is we have freshmen coming in, but we were predominantly young last year and those kids have come back. So we are building.
?When you?re young, that sometimes equals inexperience,? he added. ?But our young kids last year did come away with a lot of experience. We were very close for some young kids to make it into state. When they come back from that, they have a better idea of what they want to do. It makes a difference.?
Boldt said he expects a number of athletes could score points in the first Central Kansas League meet, but the team probably won?t challenge for a title this year.
Boldt said his primary goal, as always, is to qualify as many athletes for state as possible. He thinks a good number could make it to Wichita this year, especially if some of the relay teams he envisions are as strong as he believes that may be.
?I do have high expectations of the kids,? he said. ?Some?times they say I think they can do things they really can?t do. But I don?t. I?ve been around for 21 years?I know what kids can do and I?m excited. ?
This spring, Hillsboro will host three major meets at Joel H. Wiens Stadium: the James Thomas Invitational April 20, the CKL meet May 12 and the 16-team Class 3A regional May 20.
The Trojans will open the season with a five-team Central Kansas Track League meet April 5 at Fairfield.