Season opens Thursday at quad meet in Grant
By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
With half of last year’s state qualifiers back and a good crop of younger athletes, Chase County’s head girls’ track coach is anxious to get a meet in the books.
That will happen today (Thursday) as the Chase County girls open their track season at a quadrangular in Grant.
Coach Troy Hauxwell, who is in his first year as head coach, replaces Al Zuege, a 27-year coach who retired last year. He’s hoping to continue the “great program” he said Zuege built over the years along with some good assistant coaches.
He’ll have some quality athletes back to help in that endeavor which helped the Lady Longhorns tie for 14th at the Class C state meet last year.
However, he said he’ll miss those graduated seniors who were a big part of last year’s team that won every meet prior to state except the Ogallala Invitational. That included the coveted SPVA Conference title as well as the district championship.
Returners include three of the four 1600 meter relay team members in Taylin McNair, Paige Spady and Destiny Reinke. They placed second at state last year along with graduated senior Kristin Jussel.
Those three returners plus Kadyn Milner are all back from last year’s fifth place 3200 meter relay team at state.
Another returning state qualifier is senior MaKenna Ketter in the high jump. Reinke and McNair were also individual state qualifiers in the 800 and 400, respectively. Reinke earned the eighth place state medal in the 800.
Also scheduled to compete for her fourth season was senior Valeria Cervantes. That was until she tore an ACL late in the basketball season.
She finished ninth at state last year in the shot, just missing a medal, and Coach Hauxwell said she was really looking forward to her senior season.
“We are definitely going to miss her,” Hauxwell said.
Doubtful she’ll be able to compete this season, Hauxwell said she will be helping with the throwing events and assist as a manager if she’s unable to compete late in the season.
As of last week, the girls had practiced three full weeks in cooperative weather, Hauxwell said.
However, it’s been a struggle having the entire team at practice with many other school events taking them away, he said.
“It gets pretty busy up here this time of year,” he said.
However, he said the team’s attitude is good and they got off to a good start.
“I’m excited to get to this starting point and see where we need to build from there,” he said of Thursday’s meet.
He won’t make comparisons to last year’s team, but said he focuses on getting better every day.
“If they can leave the lockerroom and ask themselves ‘Did I get better today?’ that is important” for a successful track team, he said.
He added it also helps to stay healthy, to have good weather and “a little luck.”
He sees strength this season from the relay teams, mid to distance running events, the high jump and pole vault.
“We’ll have to see who steps up in the throws and other field events,” he said.
Last year had a strong field of Lady Longhorn throwers in Cervantes, Jodi Koellner (also a state qualifier) and Ally Vrbas, the latter two who graduated.
Here is the roster of track athletes for the 2015 season.
Seniors—Emma Bauerle, Mindy Castle, Valeria Cervantes, MaKenna Ketter, Taylar Nickless, Paige Spady, Makenna Wallin.
Juniors—Cheyanne Kuhlmann, Jasmine Laird, Alyssa Moreno.
Sophomores—Sarah Allen, Brittanie Benge, Jadin Bussell, Megan Engbrecht, Molly Luhrs, Taylin McNair, Kaylee Meeske, Kadyn Milner, Mikaela O’Brien, Bridgette Odens, Josie Peterson, Destiny Reinke, Brittany Simeon, Katelyn Wheeler.
Freshmen—Lillian Adkins, Peyton Fiedler, Lauren Gockley, Kaley Hauxwell, Ragan Nickless, Andrea Page, Kayla Schilke, Giovanna Welsh.