By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
Track season is underway for another competitive season between Washington, Washington Catholic, Barr-Reeve, Loogootee and North Daviess.
Several teams are expecting good seasons, but the spotlight is cleary on Barr-Reeve’s Connor Sorrells and Damon Pruett who are looking for return trips to the state finals.
Following a 44-7 record in 2012, the Hatchets’ boys track team has a plethora of talent returning from last season’s squad. Senior Blaine Arney (high jump, long jump, 400 relay, 1,600 relay), junior Tyler Walls (100, 400 relay) led Washington after a fifth place finish in the Princeton Sectional.
“Our team goals are to win conference,” said Washington coach Eric Gilley. “We’d like Jalen Madison to go to state in the discus, Tyler Walls to go to state in the 100 and Blaine Arney should make state in the high jump.”
With such a veteran team returning, there doesn’t seem to be many flaws regarding the 2013 Hatchets, but Gilley has concerns about the pole vault event.
“For our pole vaulter, this is our first year,” Gilley said. “That will be our biggest obstacle.”
Heading into her first year as the coach of the Washington girls track team, Maegan McPherson wasn’t sure what to expect, but she’s figuring everything out day by day. The Hatchets are 2-0 on the young season.
Washington will be led by senior Audra Lane (400 relay, 1,600 relay, long jump, and high jump), Jenna Legg (100, 400 relay, long jump) and Madison Decker (800, 1600).
“We have at least two strong people in each event,” McPherson said. “So far everything has gone really well. We have several girls from last year that went to the Regional, and they are striving to go further than that this year. We want to place in the top two or three at each event.”
Along with Lane and Decker, McPherson said she expects big things this season from freshman McKenzie Norton and Israel Waggoner. McPherson also said Washington's two discus throwers - Ashland Stoll and Lupe Perez should be very competitive.
As the Cardinals jump back into competitive track for the first time in a decade, Washington Catholic coach Josh Wichman said the team is taking the first year back in the fray day by day. The Cardinals will lean heavily on junior Sam Baker (800, 1600, 3200), senior Sarah Wichman (100, 800, 1600) and sophomore Dylan Walker (100, 200).
“We want to just compete this year to test the waters,” Wichman said. “So far they have blown by my expectations. We have received at least two ribbons in every race so far; every member earned a ribbon in four events this year.”
With the inexperience facing the Cardinals this season, Wichman said they will have to use the leadership they have in Baker and Wichman.
“Sam Baker set a personal goal and to get out of sectional would be a team goal,” Wichman said. “We want to compete and see how things go. Both of them advanced in cross country sectionals last year so hopefully that can repeat into the regionals. It’s a little different for Sarah, since she has never run on a track before.”
The Vikings boys track team will once again be one of the elite teams in Southwestern Indiana, as they are led by Connor Sorrells, Damon Pruett and Jarit Perkins. Barr-Reeve coach JayR Perkins said the team runs as individuals, and Sorrells, Pruett and Perkins will run in separate, more elite events.
“The whole reason we run track is to spring board into our cross country training in the summer,” Perkins said. “Our goal team-wise is for us to be accountable, build a really strong base and be competitive throughout the spring season.”
There are few obstacles that will get in the way of Barr-Reeve with Sorrells, Pruett and Perkins leading the way and leading by example for the rest of the runners.
“Some of the obstacles would be just to stay healthy and overcoming any sickness,” Perkins said. “We need to be prepared for running against early competition and being prepared when the tournament comes as far as feeling healthy, and being in a good mind set. We need to be ready to peak at the right time when the tournament comes.” While the boys’ team has two of the most elite runners in the area, the Barr-Reeve girls track team had only three team members on the high school level. Coach Jodi Knepp said the program is in flux at the moment as she tries to build up a good base coming from junior high.
“Nineteen junior high girls this season and three eighth graders will give us five girls next season,” Knepp said.
Knepp will have senior Kayla Wagler (100, 200, 400), but sophomore Cassidy Brothers (800, 1,600 and 3,200) has a contusion in her hip and will be out for the rest of the season. Sophomore Courtney Lasher (1,600, 3,200, 800) is working her way back from Achilles tendinitis. Knepp said Lasher is just looking to get some miles on her legs.
“With Kayla, we are hoping that she can place in the Blue Chip for first, second or third,” Knepp said. “Our hope is that she can reach regional this year. She definitely got improvement from last year.”
The Lions have started slowly with a 2-7 record, but overcoming the overwhelming youth of the roster has been the biggest challenge this season.
Of the 17 members on the team, Coach Adam Tompkins has 12 freshmen competing this spring.
The youth, however, hasn’t stopped Tompkins from setting goals for the postseason. The Lions will look to senior Zach Wagler (1,600, 3,200, relay sometimes), junior Liam Hollihan (3,200 relay), 800, sometimes 1,600-3,200) and junior David Donnersbuger (3,200 relay, 200, 400).
Sophomore Ariel Jones and junior Ashley Hembre will also contribute as the Lions work towards the postseason.
“I’d like to see some individual bests,” Tompkins said. “It’s tough being a smaller school and not really having numbers. Big chunks of the team are freshman. We¹re trying to develop a good throwing program.”
Wagler has already broken through in a big way into the Loogootee record books.
“Zach (Wagler) broke our school record in the 1,600 and will break the 3,200 this year and he’ll be on the 3,200 relay team when we try to break the record,” Tompkins said.
Under head coach Darrell Brower, the Cougars will be competing with some inexperience with no seniors left from last season.
“We hope to make a good showing in the sectional,” Brower said. “We’ve done pretty well so far in the season. We just want to show that the young team that we have is a contender.”
The obstacle of youth will be a recurring theme throughout the season, but the death of North Daviess senior Samantha Porter continues to cast a shadow over the school.
“We had an athlete that got killed in a car accident (Porter), and I’m still trying to get athletes to overcome that,” Brower said. “That’s been a real stickler for us this year. I still have a couple athletes that are trying to deal with it. We’re just trying to get through it.”
When you combine that death of Porter with the present youth of the roster, North Daviess and Brower has his hands full, and he wants the team to work hard every day and see where they are at the end of the season.
“We need to keep the kids consistent with their times and stay focused on their personal goals,” Brower said.